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.