WEEK 10 – New Dangers: History, Documentary Memory and Advertising

In my lectures, I define all documentaries as “propaganda” documentaries. Also, in my classes the points of “truth and objectivity in documentaries”, which I believe spoil the documentary classes in this country, are almost never discussed.  How could a view that perceives documentaries as means of propaganda talk about truth and objectivity? Besides, we accept that documentaries are fictional and focus on the techniques that are necessary to create this. I mean, we try to understand and apply methods of creating an illusion (a good lightning, a good fiction, what a good usage of camera is and how it should be done, etc.)

A documentary is a propaganda film, and a real documentary which is rare and exceptional cannot be watched on Discovery Channel. Allow me to add something here. We think the aim of advertising is to increase the sales of a product or service, which is true in general. However, I see a second purpose of it, and I believe this observation is important enough to share it with you. Let me explain it with an example. In a commercial of a bank (whose name is unimportant and doesn’t make any difference) that aims at leading young people to the bank, depicts 70’s and 80’s as far as I understand, or if I am wrong let’s say 60’s or 50’s. Young girls enter the bank doing summersaults, eating lollipops, hula hooping, sliding down handrails. This commercial certainly has or could have an aim of increasing consumption, which I do not intend to discuss; however, its most important function is to transform, rewrite, distort, twist, and falsify history. In 80’s (also in 50’s, 60’s and 70’s) people were dying in this country, and there were tortures, black-markets, coups, war, and people were exiled from their country and universities. There were not girls jumping ropes and doing summersaults only. Thus, when you look at recent important commercials especially the ones with high production values, you can realise that their ultimate aim and function is to transform history. If you transform history, you also transform today and more importantly the future. Is the Anatolia we know the same as the Anatolia that the young girl wanders around in the GSM operator commercial? Consequently, is the word “freedom” that the young girl uses such a cheap concept? Are the fields that green and fertile as we see them in Ford commercials? Are the cows and fish that well-fed, the villagers that happy, and do the truck drivers with happy eyes tap on their trucks as if they would on a horse’s back? No. Look at those oil, bank, car, detergent, soda propaganda films; you will clearly see them transforming history. (They certainly intend to pump consumption, and I do not deny this.)

In the last sentence of the previous paragraph, I used the term “propaganda films” rather than “commercials.” We can naturally define a commercial like this. At the beginning of this section, I said documentaries are propaganda films. Then, from my point of view, commercials and documentaries can be defined as two different forms of propaganda films. If we move one step further, commercials become documentaries. Considering the perception level, the way of time management, comprehension capacity, patience and so forth of people today, 30-second or one-minute documentaries are produced, and we recognise and watch them with their widely used names, “commercials.” The methods of Lene Reifenstahl and Robert Flaherty are back in history. The state, national and multinational corporations produce and get today’s short documentaries watched in this new format. There are numerous benefits in being so short (the benefits are for the ones that make propaganda not for us of course). Nevertheless, this “Shortness and the Functional Importance of Shortness” is a different paper’s concern. The preference of this format is not due to lack of time or high expenses of time on television; this is a conscious preference that increases the impact of propaganda.

These propaganda films/pictures/texts/logos spew from billboards, radios, televisions, virtual sites, cinemas, sports uniforms, hats of celebrities, facades of buildings, lighters, headrests of bus seats, train and flight tickets, restaurants, ice-cream shops and sports fields, underwater and sky. Their structure that is aggressive and that carries mean and bitter messages, repeats ad nauseam, and repeats again and again not only takes away our words, language, and everything that we want to say, transforms all meaningful scenes into one abused plastic item and understanding, glorify and get people accept the consumption ideology which is like grasshoppers attacking field crops but also transforms history, and consequently the future.

WEEK 11 – The Aim(s) “To Die or to Stay Alive”

Fundamentally the most important and primary task of men is to live. We live to pursue life – I do not mean to survive –, to exist in afterlife, and actually to be memorable.

Being forgotten is death. Death is important, especially if the one who dies is us. The ones that we remember live. The thing that defines life around on behalf of us can be explained with the verb remember. A story, an individual, a relative is alive and in life as long as we remember them.

Television programmers are human beings, and so are advertisers. The primary difference between them (I mean the ordinary TV programmers and advertisers worldwide) is that advertisers are smarter, braver and more creative than TV programmers in total. They are really insistent about that, and I accept it because I do not want to change the direction of this text. Advertisers are smarter and more important than TV programmers and also anyone one else; they are smarter and more important than ecologists, bakers, and footballers, etc. (I do not say advertisers are talented; they can be, but this is not a must because they can easily purchase talent.) Adversiters are wise people who reduce life to simple terms; they can explain almost everthing with a simple verb “to buy.”

Advertisers’ knowledge of earning the most with the least effort results in an increasing intellectual difference between them and the rest of the groups they leave behind (because advertisers are always in the front, the rest is behind). Thus, their talent of earning the most with the least effort is developing, or unquestionably this illusion that they have created sacredly become entrenched. Even if they bluff, even the ones who have better cards in hands believe them, and no one can see that they are bluffing.

TV programmers’ and advertisers main interest is to live like any other of us; that is, they want to be remembered like fathers (godfathers?), prostitutes, bakers, the unemployed, doctors, etc. However, they kill to live like the mythological characters not because they intent to, but because this is the only way that they can stay alive, they continuously distort concepts like Marxism, democracy, literature, language, customs, philosophy, poetry, etc. Their surroundings get deserted maybe out of their control. First they transform language and meaning, and this transforms ethics and nature.

People of some professions are not aware or maybe partially aware of the fact that the secret of life lies in the sustainability of it, and life depends on staying alive and remembrance. However, advertisers are conscious of this, and they wake up every morning to realise their aim of doing something to become memorable; this is the advertisers’ main job. Doctors think that the critical operation that they make save someone’s life, but in fact they achieve immortality themselves in this way, or they delay their own death through being memorable or save themselves.

Advertisers use the means, processes and work power to develop their primary techniques of improving their memory, and they do this through combining their intelligence and knowledge that that they develop while they are not working with the advantages that they obtain as members of the elite. They have a very distinguished laboratory. Maybe there is no other area that is so open to development and where “experimenting” is a natural part and must of a job. This is why, advertisers create works by using their intelligence and high technology, and they have all opportunities to introduce them. Although what they have created is bad, they have made up a saying “There is no such thing like bad advertisement”, and like advertising itself this statement is also not open to discussions. Like advertising itself, this statement is also blessed. There is bad bread, shoes, PhD theses and salty pumpkin seeds but no bad ads. The good ad is good, and so is the bad one. Consequently, the members of this visual area that is enlightened by the science of memory techniques are untouchable, and they have time to read books, travel around the world, and colour their lives with new experiences (like scuba diving, helicopter, bungee jumping, safari in India, Nepal, or Africa) that enable them to view the world from a different perspective because they can earn so much money for which others have to work for a lifetime from just a single picture, 30-second film, a couple of tiny unquestionable jobs.

Goodness or being good is continuously discussed in philosophy. However, a good play is good and a bad one is bad; while we are watching, the feeling that we want to shout out loud and the boredom that we feel undoubtedly shows us that it is bad. TV and radio programmers do not have the same opportunities as advertisers do, but we want them to create longer and more periodical works to pursue in life and make their works memorable. This is injustice.

Consequently, their position closer to the evil is understandable. They do not want to die as neither of us does; they want to be memorable. However, they, the pariahs of the visual area, must make weekly comedy shows, news, paparazzi or sports programmes that last hours. Their opportunities and budgets are limited, and they have an additional obligation that they have to do everything without saying anything “criticizing the system.” Despite this, they also want to be memorable, and their bosses also want them to make “easily remembered” effective programmes, and they evaluate or get their performance evaluated. This is partly the reason behind the violence in TV series; this is the reason behind all news, entertainment, paparazzi, reality programs that we cannot stand. This is the obligation to do the job that is sixty, a hundred or five hundred times longer than a commercial but with a budget that is a tenth or ten per cent of the budgets spent for a commercial. This is the reason behind the lack of quality because doing a bad job is a bit easier than doing a good job. Not much, just a bit.

Violence is not in human nature, and the opposite is unforgivably nonsense. This is nonsense because it ignores man’s process of civilization that he undergoes. Man tends to be violent when he is exposed to violence or faces inequality. It is not meaningful to think that man has a potential to act violently without a reason.

Examine your memories, and the traces that you have left behind as memories for others. While you are doing this, you will see that this is very easy because you will easily remember your memories. The rest is already dead. When I do this, I mostly remember memories of violence (both physical and psychological), violence that I was exposed to or that was intended to be practiced on me; I do remember most of them. I remember others like encounters with great works of art and artists, my acts of bravery and dignity; I mean the presence of brave and glorious people and their resistance, but these are less than the others.

In fact, maybe all people are innocent, which I would happily accept. It is not easy to leave memories behind like İlhan Berk or Kurt Vonnegut. Then, hit on the man’s head with a block of wood, and he will never forget you until he dies if he doesn’t when he is hit of course. TV programmers hurt us maybe because of the limited opportunities they were given, time restrictions that do not allow creativity and efficient work force, their hopelessness deriving from their obligation of catching deadlines which is the poison of artistic production. Maybe we are all innocent; all we want to do is to become memorable, to stay alive, in fact. We know we are dead when we are forgotten and what we do is to make an effort to remain memorable. We do this using all the methods that we know; at least we try to.

WEEK 12 – SIZE MATTERS: Being Big and Being Small

Similar to the internal and external pressure put on England to adapt metric system today, ranging from the examples that are totally irrelevant to me and this text to writing DVDs with the same software program, having the same jeans sizes worldwide, and thousands of similar things that I cannot even remember now, we are going through a process of standardization. It is evident that this attempt does not please us, nor does it increase love and peace, communication and empathy because these changes are not the result of positive efforts to develop humanity and culture, but they are just part of the process of adaptation of the managerial and commercial territory to the powerful; this is why, all these changes benefit the big and powerful.

As these attempts grow like a monster in a disordered, deformed body similar to metastasis, the world, the individual, the small and the authentic have no chance at all. Behind all ecological and political problems lie the pressure put by the totally corrupted giants like Hollywood, World Bank, Levi’s, Coca Cola, Monsanto, and Venice Biennale. All these giants consume extravagantly and produce vast amounts of waste. Wastes come out in different ways and forms like anorexics, obese, inhalant abuse, carbon monoxide, rivers totally contaminated because of heavy metals.

The new suppressive and corrupted global culture does not spread out of only Venice Biennale into our lives, today and future. Advertisements are one of the fundamental powers used by the process of adaptation to the new culture and world design imposed by the dominant, the global and even the giant. It is the ads that deceivingly dictate common people the orders in small groups, instructions, wishes, the decisions about the clothes that will be worn next year, weather and financial forecasts that even they themselves define with their technological choices, the stocks to speculate on in the stock market. They do this with either real ads or news or any other programmes with different names that they have turned into ads. The time of the paperboys calling out loud in the streets is over. The machines in each house do the same job silently and decisively.

Contrary to the previous ages, the big can adapt the world to the geographical territory suitable for his needs and aims without any encounters with the small if it is not really necessary. This is because the big has never been so powerful before and the small has never been so weak and disorganised before. Today life is a matter of survival for the small. They can do almost nothing to increase what they have in their hands, extend and develop. Under though conditions, the small has been so much deformed that it takes a lot of effort to realise the beauties of being small that have remained in their hands. The commercial, cultural area and the territory that they lead their everyday lives in are so small and unusable, and the small is so uneducated and disorganised to see the reasons behind this that they are usually under the illusion of seeing the other small as the rival and compete with them. Today, in the real world of impositions, how and what kind of new strategies against the big, for example Exxon, could be developed? Today the companies that apply gold cyanidation that function at both sides of the Aegean Sea have a 250-year-old experience and budget. How could it be possible to protect the Aegean region, olives, marvellously cool and sacred drinking water, the cultivated fertile soil of both sides from these companies? The Iraqi people have been tortured and murdered for years. There could be no rationale to legitimise this, and there is none. The most relentless power of the world has been practising this in front of Europe who continuously pronounces democracy, and what could be done to stop this? What could be done against the producers of the genetically modified (GM) food which is proven to poison the soil and to be carcinogenic and often sent from the neighbouring countries back to us? What could be done against the fishermen who hunt Bluefin tuna without obeying the regulations and break the ecological chain that could never be reversed? Could it be fought against by Greenpeace which is one of the big itself and have most of the negative sides mentioned above or by WWF? The big with its ill structure takes the possession of the civil area and builds huge buildings there as an alternative to minimise the criticisms.

The pressure put on the local, the small diminished the hopes concerning the survival of the world. Today, say the Brazilian culture, which is flexible, open, innovative and synthesising new approaches to the innovations, is pushed to change by the global pressure. Mainly from November to June, and actually every time, they try to transform the Brazilian culture into the dominant culture in Bern or Copenhagen. Brazilian culture finds it difficult to stand this degenerate dominant culture with its openness (which is an antidote for the corruption of the world), respect to the traditional, colourful structure and multiplicity, hospitality. What is even more tragic is that the culture, which we name as Brazilian culture, and which is more quality, human, open and transparent, practises power over the smaller and local cultures. This layered pressure system brings the end of the world slowly because in such systems it could exist with only the cruellest and most reserved cultures. This situation not only makes the world a boring place to live but also diminishes the solution options. This monoculture that makes us look like each other, like Coca Cola bottles, have reduced the number of types of rice which used to be 40,000 twenty years ago to hundreds, most of which are hybrids. Today, the pressure on languages, traditional healing methods has been decreasing alternatives for cultural, ecological, administrative, and managerial solutions.

At the point where man’s search of happiness falls apart from the human, we encounter one or another advertising slogan: “My father is a man like Toyota.” It is not possible to see a culture where the imagination of happiness is so painful anywhere other than advertising culture. As a continuation of this process, again the big appears as a new danger that they cause occurs, use social ads through the means of media that they themselves own and tell us that we should have less showers, use less electricity, travel less. And in the afternoon, in commercials, the same ones also tell, suggest or order us that we should travel with their airlines more, we can have as many showers as we can and eat as much as we can at their huge hotels. This schizoid structure, unconvincing sick situation is not really funny.

WEEK 13 – The Relationship between Media and Advertising: A Discussion from the Perspectives of Justice, Meaning, and Ethics

When the important contents of the mails of the big aristocratic families in Europe (like Medici, Fugger, Walser) were excluded from the strictly protected and highly confidential mails that they sent each other, the commercially insignificant information generated the first newspaper in the 1500’s. This is how Habermas explains the birth of first media. A couple of big and prosperous families of Europe were not only informed about coffee, cacao, the number of slaves, prices, political situations, and commercial, economic, political, military flaws by the help of reporters (or spies) but also being generous enough to share the rest of the insignificant information with the public. These big noble families ruling the world were telling the public to be busy with the information that they kindly share with them while their ships were sailing to the lands where no white men had ever stepped on and the tough powerful men on these ships were sharpening their swords and getting ready to slaughter the natives. That means the first news was the mails from which the important information was excluded. Waste, rubbish! Is it the same today? The reporters who claim that they fulfil their responsibilities for the public on screens, radios or in papers and also the consumers of the news should consider this. We had better consider that the pile of newspapers at the corner of our rooms, a piece of news that we look at in a paper or a TV programme that we watch is a bunch of waste, rubbish or a piece of information. The reporters opposing this process and the minority that tries to change this perception are devastated by the dark side of the state and mafia.

Despite this, from 1850’s until the beginning of 1900’s, all labour unions, districts and groups had newspapers, and newspapers were given a very important political and social role by the working class in Europe. However, capitalism found new ways to distribute papers to a larger area faster and print high quality papers, which created the mainstream media, and it financed this huge investment with advertising. The content of the news in mainstream media was controlled and made devoid of significant information as it used to be right at the beginning.

Radio was considered to be the wireless communication at the beginning. It was both a receiver and a transmitter. In 1911, Marconi had the first idea of broadcasting music through this device, and the first idea of radio came out. During the Second World War, radio was used for communication. After the war, as it started to be used for mass communication, its first interactive quality, the function of obtaining a two-way communication was diminished. One party’s opportunity to express oneself was blocked, and radio started broadcasting messages to masses from the centre. In the USA, the waves of the state were privatised. And the radio commercials were born. (There were printed ads already.) In 1924, there were 400 radio stations only in Manhattan. There was a salad of waves, and nothing could be listened to properly. There came the frequency licence solution to this problem. This huge effort and investment was not for the benefit of the public but for better quality broadcast of commercials. The institution that made such improvements had the same role as RTÜK does today. The first radio theatre financed by a soap manufacturer company named Brillo has the name related to this area that is also currently used. Brillo is a soap company, and such series are named soap opera.

In 1950’s, when the first satellite started spinning around the world, it was evident that this new situation/ innovation/ invention was very important and had something to do with communication. First the armies and then capitalism possessed these waves. The third world countries opposed to the situation that the rich possessed these waves like all other things in the world. When the injustice in the share of these waves with the third world was stated the MacBride Report, the USA withdrew from UNESCO in protest and has not paid even a dollar of its debts.

When we mention the history of communication, we at the same time mention the history of advertising and consequently the history of exploitation. If we ignore the role of advertising, the primary voice of the dominating political and commercial system, how could we propose solutions to problems that have turned the planet into such a mess? Wouldn’t it be absurd? We state that this injustice and the consumption culture exhaust the world ecologically and socially. Then, how far could we go with those pretentious social responsibility campaigns that do not criticize even ads that are the main weapon of those firms to increase consumption?

There is doubt that in twenty years, advertisers will be at the same point that we stand now, but the CEO of a big advertising agency should state these words before incurable problems occur, but this is the main characteristic of the system; consume and destroy it too fast but fix it not fast enough. Firms should act more ethically. It is not possible to save the world while telling people to consume more (especially the products and services that I offer). Today, the supply of blue jeans already produced can meet our needs until the year 2250, but still they are producing more and wasting electricity, water and manpower. We cannot solve the problem if we ignore the conflict here. We can sit at a café in Cihangir and write exceptional articles regarding conservatism in the country, but if we do not react to the destruction that derives from advertising just because these people are our peers and we share the same social environment, there is something wrong with what we do. Advertising causes ecological and intellectual desertification.

I believe advertising in its current form is harmful for human health. Everything becomes even more frightening when we look at the ads in our transforming country. First there were shouting people in ads; they we shouting out loud and saying that they did not like bank branches and they were ridiculing their friends in some firms. Next, verbal insults started; overweight women were not allowed in elevators. Then, they managed to make people insult their professional areas that they devoted their lives; Mazhar, Fuat and Özkan were made to say that the bank commercial was better than their lyrics.

Now, the advertising scripts that we can describe as psychiatric cases of extreme lack of communication are at the point of displaying “bumping” and “kicking.” How far could this ‘creativity’ go? Some time ago, in an ad, I saw a man being kicked because he refused to buy a TV, a car company having their cars crash into each other with a note that these scenes were real. Yes, they are not fake; they are the facts of our lives.

I am completely opposed to the concept of advertising that is practiced today, and the examination of the definition related to advertising can be briefly explained as follows:

It is the reality that the powers (media, multinational or national corporations, state, etc.) that define the age, money flow, poverty, processes and economy use advertising, not documentaries as propaganda films any more, as a means in their acts.

This is the most significant thing to consider for learners and producers of documentaries. This is the essence of the discussion and research. It has to be discussed, questioned and if necessary refuted.

If my thesis that advertising replaces documentary is a fact (I believe it does though), we have to develop a model and method. It is necessary to produce short but striking works with an acceptance of philosophical problems involved if we want our message to spread in mainstream media. It is not because short works are more meaningful than the long ones. The short works involve numerous problems though. However, it is almost impossible to access to TV channels with long works. Thus, it is essential to analyse the cameras, lenses and the software that advertisers use in post-production to create and use the language successfully. If it is not possible to use them, we need to find alternatives. There is no need to invent another language.

WEEK 14 – Representation

People who have made their choices to produce contra, documentaries or news, to become reporters seem to make another choice which is being the voice of others. The aim is to voice the quiet, to make the invisible visible. There seems to be, and actually there generally is, a human/ethical ground in such choices.

With this aim, while producing a documentary or contra and attempting to pronounce something for or on behalf of some people, we tend to include one of the main two groups: like the ruling or the opposing group, the centre or the periphery, me or the others, the oppressor or the oppressed, the majority or the minority. The common examples to the opposing groups, the centre or the periphery, the oppressed, the minorities could be gays and lesbians, the black people, Kurds, refugees, etc.

However, I believe some important factors are not considered especially in documentaries and research. Maybe the possibility that the oppressor could be the oppressed at the same time and the fear to access to this multi-layered structure make the topic easier to digest and exploit but more deficient.

It is natural that the structure and content of concepts that are handled as the ‘other’ (for example, the black and lesbian) is more complicated than it seems. However, this complexity is not usually considered, or it is overlooked. The formulas that are created from this false and easy point of view cannot solve the problems. At least we know that it does not propose solutions to the ‘other’ that is being talked about and seemed to be treated as subjects but actually treated as objects. If we do not know it, we learn it in a short time. We learn that not all black people are black or that the colour does not define the black today. How black is Michael Jordan? Or, how white is a common Turk in the world? If we handle it individually, in the context of “me and the other”, the others/outsiders/marginal/minorities are the ones who are continuously in struggle to change their situation and position. No one discusses about this because they are oppressed, under pressure, and they cannot realise themselves. We can see this only by looking at the names that define them.

However, in real life, it is extremely difficult to distinguish the ‘other’ from me, the centre, or the oppressor. In this difficult process, some will always represent the ‘other’ actually by continuously using the representation opportunities of the ‘other’ and replacing the ‘other.’ While doing this, they in fact realise only themselves in essence. This can be done in two ways. One way is to create one’s own presence through acting as if they represent the ‘other’ who work in this area. The other way is to come out as the representing spokesperson but in time to forget the problem and the group and benefit the process to elevate his position stepping on the others. The latter is realised by the help of the media usually.

This paradox, this tragicomic situation, whose background is formed by media, interests the contra director, documentary producer, writer, instructor and people. Some always volunteer to be or to represent the ‘other.’ Some people from the same groups continuously identify the problems, data, and solutions and define the good and the bad in the name of the ‘other.’

However, the real ‘other’ cannot often access to panels, televisions or radio programmes, books. (They can access as a figure, statistics, as an object that is “appropriated, cut and edited,” kind of garniture but not as a subject.)

The ‘other’, but the real one, the one who experiences all the problems and who at the same time knows the solutions emerge as an individual in the middle of extraordinary or exceptional situations. They emerge devastated, wretched, and irrational, with unutterable behaviour and words in their current situation when it is not possible to realise their existence. They emerge when they face death in Kosovo or Ruanda, or when they run away from the police in Taksim, etc. Here the ‘other’ is allowed to be represented in mass media in such exceptional situations when they don’t have the opportunity to express themselves. They are shown as if they were the subjects, but actually they appear and disappear as objects. A black one could say something when he was dying, and what he was saying does not matter, and a transvestite was shouting out loud to the microphone when she was being pulled from her hair and nothing could be understood. However, the one like “Sisi” who volunteers to represent the ‘other’ and who is at the same time the ‘other’ at first sight is approved as much as she falls apart from being the ‘other’ in real sense. The more she is alienated from the ‘other’ the more she is approved, and the more she is approved, the more she is alienated. The more she is approved, the better she is appropriated, and the more she is appropriated the farther she falls apart from the reality and the stronger she makes her power and become permanent. (Actually, this is a vicious circle that we cannot end explaining.) In a way, they become the censor of the limited terrains where something about the ‘other’ is uttered but not the spokespeople of the ‘other.’

The problem is that such examples like “Sisi” are frequently seen in the general structure. Some of the representatives of the ‘other’ fall apart from the ‘other.’ They differ from the ‘other’ not only in thinking and attitudes but also in the construction and organization of the new life and the repetitive structure of the daily life.

The representatives are ignorant of the ‘other.’ However, there is a contradiction that while the interest and information regarding the ‘other’ decrease, the number of the spheres and environments where the ‘other’ could be represented by those ‘representatives’ increases. We see them in panels, TV programmes, and they make a living over showing the ‘other’ as the subjects but actually using them as objects. The ‘other’ becomes the essence of their presence or their capital. When you meet the real ‘other’ who stands against the reality of life, listen to the oppressed or encounter their lack of education, drug abuse, their arm broken by the police and police records of the black, Asian, white, you can touch the real ‘other.’ Then, you can see, hear and touch the meaningful things regarding the ‘other,’ and this does not really happen in mass media.

 

At this point, you can simply ignore, use or attempt to understand everything. It is a frequently seen problematic situation that the representatives who volunteer to represent the ‘other’ but actually abuse them are in an illusion that they are parts of the ‘other.’

 

The representatives, who betray their philosophies that they had at the beginning, lose their quality of being representatives and become famous, in fact harm the ‘other’ in media, especially on TV where the programmes “categorise” and “homogenize” the ‘other’ due to the obligation that they have to say something no matter what it is, get to somewhere and use the time allocated carefully. In such a process, the meaning, originality and uniqueness of diversity lose its sense because such TV programmes run out of time. The time concern and the anchor-people’s desire to wrap things up as a closing speech as if they were identifying some solutions make the participants, i.e. the representatives, prefer an unrealistic discourse that homogenizes the theme rapidly. Then, rhetoric deprived of originality and details that will expire right after the programme finishes are built. Thousands of such types of rhetoric are dumped by the end of the programmes. What remain in mind are the gestures, mimics and the apparent or hidden violence that participants practice on each other. In such programmes, there is usually an educator, an NGO representative and a victim. If the media can communicate with the victim, we can often see or hear about that victim in different channels and programmes, and we can actually all witness the metamorphosis that he/she goes through.

WEEK 15 – The Last Lesson

Another fundamental change that concerns the masses is hidden behind the concepts of privatisation and globalisation. This change that occurred especially in the last quarter of the past century brings almost no positive novelties to common people’s conditions, positions and life standards. The only change is that the state is replaced by the concept of private corporations. The state has voluntarily become the guardian of the corporations. As common citizens, when we look through the glasses that media give us, we see the terrain of reality and hope as dim, shadowy and dark as it used to be twenty, thirty, fifty years ago. One of the things that increases the density of darkness is the media. However, just the opposite is taught in schools. Everyone pretends that this miracle is possible. Look at the public leaders that appear on screens every evening; do they look like joking or hiding the truth?

In the past, the state used to hide the truth, and now the corporations do the same; nothing has changed. We used to be ignorant, and so are we now. If there is a difference between the past and present, it is also a desperate situation. Today we have the illusion that we know something; in the past we used to know that we were ignorant. In this situation, we can see the reason behind the frequent spread of information concerning the crimes committed by the states. The expired, insignificant information, political murders, crimes barred by the statute of limitations and names of the murderers of unsolved murders spread around; however, the murderers are either already dead or senile. (This evaluation is not related to Wikileaks; it is an important one.)

The nation-wide or worldwide known artists, the most qualified comedians, the most beautiful women are the spokespeople, image and voice of the corporations that are the ultimate power today. Consequently, they do not tell us the truth; even if they do, we find it difficult to believe in them. We are naturally confused when the voice who tells us to support street dogs in the morning reaches us in the afternoon to say that we should talk on our mobile phones longer. Why should we talk longer if we don’t have more to say? While it is scientifically proven that talking on the mobile phones is harmful for our health, how could it be humane to tell young people to talk longer just to earn more credits or win a silly prize? Besides, we know that the only one who wins the real prize is the one whose voice we hear in the ad, and we seriously doubt that s/he is trying to deceive us. Advertisements are maybe the most innocent form of deception that reaches us from the media because their aim, name and format are evident. When we consider that it is not hard to name almost all programmes commercials (news, music videos, discussion programmes, etc.) on TV, and they all deceive us and keep us busy with not the reality but its substitutions, commercials will remain quite innocent in the world of television and media.

If a great deal of media, primarily television, is a box under the command of corporations, we inevitably have serious doubts about what the media corporation (it is also a corporation) tells us, and it does not matter whether it is close to the ruling class or the opposition, and whether the speakers are brave, qualified and intelligent or not. It is like a bad end-of-year show in a school. It used to be meaningful to unveil the indecent acts of the state that was losing power and leaving its place to a corporation thirty years ago maybe. It might also be the right time to reveal the crimes of corporations that suggest consuming more, try to create a new form of bacteria or species that continuously disrespect anything around them and devastate every obstacle on their way by speaking on the phone more, earning more and achieving more. However, it is impossible to hear or say anything regarding this. These corporations, for their benefits, could stuff workers into rooms like gas chambers to sandblast jeans. In fact, the gas chambers and concentration camps were built by the same corporations that produce our fridges or washing machines today. They can tolerate, surely for their benefit, the brutal deaths of young people under metal sheets in shipyards. They can destroy the River Alakır and Loc Valley without hesitation and label all the old men and women “traitors” who have been living there for seventy or eighty years and have never demonstrated against the government in their entire lives but today stand up against the brutal destruction of their land.

Today, the state acts like a security force that eliminates the obstacles against the corporations and money. In the globalised world of the corporations, only money can be circulated freely; there are very few changes in the awful working conditions of workers, and sometimes they get even worse. The corporations that are responsible for the crimes committed against nature think that they are paying back by serving some pastries, tea in paper cups, a couple of posters, and paying for the taxi of the spokespeople in the gatherings that the public relations companies that they establish organise. They think they are paying back for everything they have done to the sandblasting workers, shipyard workers who died there, clear rivers, trout, waterfowls, daffodil bulbs, tuna, woodcocks, falcons, and valleys devastated. Is this a daring sentence? No, I don’t think so. Examine each species mentioned here and the working class. Then, you can see that this is a concrete sentence.

There is another significant danger that the misinformation and/or info pollution, noise or disinformation create. This is not only eliminating the concepts of conscience, solidarity, and empathy from our souls and lives and replacing them with the new species that is greedy and does not understand the concept of ethics and whose values are zeroed. Let’s assume that we can endure all these. Then, we face the danger of not knowing what to do because all concepts are shuffled. Schools are not schools, labour unions are not labour unions, NGO’s are not NGO’s. So, we can give up everything because everything is nothing, or something that we do not expect or something that is already quite confusing. Look at the political parties’ programs, operations within the NGO’s, the democracy in the operations in the labour unions, and see if you can identify the difference among the rightist, the leftist, the conservative, the green and the liberal. In the middle of this dust and smoke, natural values, faunas, floras that we can hardly replace disappear. Ethics disappear, justice, sense of righteousness and law disappear; it could be possible to restore nature under certain circumstances and in a certain amount of time, but it must be extremely difficult to restore a society whose sense of justice and ethics have disappeared.

Corporations put more and more pressure on ecological, physical and legal spaces that we live in because they both have the obligation to grow, be faster and more venturesome than their competitors and think that all the gains that they have are good and for the benefit of the public. The state thinks that they clean and ennoble the valuable areas of the city from which they send away the ‘spoilers’ by the help of the police force and construct new, clean, high buildings. Certainly, no one can hear the voice of the Gypsies or the Kurds but the commercials of the new buildings on TV. It happened in Ayazma and Sulukule. The corporations have the same starting points when they mine, sandblast jeans, blow the dynamites to construct dams, develop Agent Orange and napalm; they aim at destroying the enemies, protecting the country, fulfilling the needs for housing, energy, food, attaining prosperity and constructing peace. And there is a price for each, and corporations simply distribute the prices and risks to the certain parts of the public. This is what happens; socializing the risks and privatising the profits.

Suggested links;

http://www.cinemambiente.it/splash.php

http://www.zcommunications.org/zmag

http://stk.bilgi.edu.tr/docs/m_belge.pdf

http://www.locvadisi.com/

 

Suggested readings;

 

Minima Moralia/ Theodor Adorno

Homo Ludens/ Johan Huizinga

Cultural Memory/ Jann Assmann

Manufacturing of Consent/ Noam Chomsky