I am thinking about who the male heroes of my childhood were. I had a culture of comic books, though not very deep. I used to read Zagor the most.
And there was also Mister No. But, in Mister No, our adventurous hero got into trouble the most because of women. Mister No, who had a weakness for women, was deceived quite easily by the skillfully drawn 'femme fatales'.
As for Zagor, it was a comic book which was sailing in more secure waters when it comes to the issue of women. The struggle of Zagor was to secure the just order of the Darkwood forest, where he lived. His relationship with women was very much in the background.
Then, one day, I watched "Star Wars" in cinema and my life changed a lot. My first hero was Han Solo now. A smuggler, who is adventurous, stays away from the crowd and lives for his own pleasure and future!
He joined the aristocrats, first for his own interest, then, because she liked Princess Leia and as the story proceeded, he learnt to put his life in danger for nobler causes.
In fact, Princess Leia was not one of those typical princesses waiting to be rescued; on the contrary, she was a woman who always rose to the challenge and became a fighter if needs be. I mean, such women are more attractive to me. That is to say, my interest in women with a strong character started in the very back then...
After Star Wars, whenever we came together with the children of our relatives in the evening, we used to play the game of "saving the princess". In our eyes, women were valuable creatures who needed to be saved from the hands of bad men by the good ones.
The only girl who could play the game with us in the family was the beautiful daughter of my uncle, Gökçen; she used to be either the princess or 'the daughter of the Chancellor" kidnapped for a substantial ransom...
I was responsible for the scenarios and design of the characters! I filled all of the clichés that we watched in cinema and television into our games. But, I warned Gökçen all the time by telling her, "Say some harsh words from time to time, do not just stand there like a doll!"
When we were children, we were also affected by the image of "sexy woman as the prize of the heroic man" presented to us by advertisements, TV series and movies such as James Bond. It was as if not valuing women was one of the indispensable conditions for men to look 'cool'.
As you know, the interest of high-school girls in 'bad boys' is quite well-known. In my high-school years, my attempts to become a 'bad boy' always ended in failure. I could not act as if women were not valuable. That is why, I always became the best friends, but not the boyfriends of the girls that I liked in high-school.
The movies and TV series, where men exploit women, have, of course, always existed in cinema and television. Especially in the movies of traditional cinema of Turkey destined to be blockbusters...
But, a balance found with the state channel TRT needs to be highlighted. For instance, "Perihan Abla", whose main character was a skilled woman loved and respected by everyone and with a high social capability, was an entertaining and positive production, which valued neighborhood culture and cooperation and narrated them. In fact, it might be because it pushed its matriarchal structure a bit too much, it made the male main character of the series run away from itself years later.
With the private TV channels becoming more widespread, the exploitative and deliberately /indeliberately discriminatory mentality found itself an ampler room for maneuver. We have come to today with Kadirisms, the ones who wrote the book of manhood from scratch and Polat Alemdars...
Now, in most of our TV series and comedy movies, it seems to be almost 'imperative' that women behave in a passive manner and be very much dependent on the existence of a man while men are rude and, definitely, macho so as to be charismatic.
According to a study conducted by the Turkish Statistical Institute entitled "The Use of Information Technologies by Children and Media", 92.5 percent of children between the ages of 6 and 15 watch television every day. The same study also shows that the rate of watching cartoons among children considerably decreases after the age of 10 and cartoons are gradually replaced by domestic television series and movies.
While the rate of watching domestic TV series among children between the ages of 6 and 10 is 44 percent, this rate hits 77 percent among children between the ages of 11 and 15.
It means that the rate of children among the audience of the domestic series produced in the television channels of Turkey is considerably high. But, is there anything in these television series that could contribute something to children or that could add something positive to their lives? It is, of course, not right to seek such a responsibility in all television series.
But, when they have done away with the mentality of time frames under the name of broadcasting and chose to televise a single four- or five-hour long series following the main news bulletin, then, it is expected that some degree of responsibility will be taken! For instance, almost none of our television series encourages people to be good people.
It is even obscure how those rich male characters have reached such high positions. Most of them are rich thanks to their families, they are almost never depicted while working. Their educational past is not known, either. On top of that, most of those men are rude and aggressive.
As for women, they are completely reduced to being dependent on the shadow of men; there are almost no strong women characters that can be shown to girls as role models. But, in our age, those TV series occupy an important place in the watching list of children.
In the previous months, we strongly criticized, especially on social media, that a television series depicted a woman, who escaped from male violence, in horrible circumstances.
The defense of the creators of the series was "to raise awareness". But, in a society where grace and refinement have been gradually disappearing, awareness is not raised like that. Especially when there is an audience, most of which is consisted of children...
How is the situation in cinema, then?
Five or six years ago, while I and my son were spending time in the playground, we started talking to another father. When this father heard about what I did for a living, he showed interest and called on to his five- or six-year-old son to join us.
He said to his son, "Look, this uncle is a filmmaker, imitate Recep İvedik for him". When the child posed with his belly in the front and started making "hohahaha" noises, all of a sudden, a new window opened in my professional life.
Then, I started to take a closer look at the social media accounts of some parents, I observed the parents of my son's friends. All of the domestic comedy movies were perceived by the families as films that can be watched in the company of children. After this point, I focused some part of my work entirely on this subject.
Do you know from which scenes the parents around the world have been trying to protect their children? According to the results of the study, there is nothing that we are as afraid of as nudity! We are scared to death that children will see people making love on the cinema screen... And, actually, the content which is worried about the least in Turkey points to a different danger: toilet humor.
Toilet humor refers to an exaggerated humor which deals with excrement, urination or flatulation, vomiting and other bodily functions and which gradually crosses its boundaries.
In some Hollywood comedies as well as most of our domestic comedy films, humor is produced through a masculine language supported by a sexist perspective, a frequent use of slang words, discrimination through sexism, roughness and, from time to time, anti-heroism.
Humor of this type has a highly wide target audience. However, people in other countries can exclude their children in their own societies from this target audience as best as they can with a reliable auto-control mechanism. For instance, they have age categorization systems that they apply quite strictly.
Because, children, especially the ones who watch these movies prematurely, are very likely to see the protagonists of these movies as role models, take them as examples and misunderstand them.
However, in our country, movies are not evaluated from this point of view. In these movies, domestic filmmakers make a special effort to acquire the 7+ age limitation and they manage to acquire it most of the time. The rudest of all acquires the 13+ age limitation the most. In fact, the majority of them are movies which should have at least the 15+ age limitation.
Though a thousand of other examples can be given, it is easier to refer to the most obvious one. In the fourth movie of the "Recep İvedik" film series, İvedik, who takes part in the competition on the Survivor island, humiliates an overweight woman, who is one of his opponents, in a harsh language and, on top of that, inflicts physical violence on her in one scene.
This movie was shown with the 7+ age limitation and, unfortunately, some children started to act like İvedik, whom they viewed as an amusing and sweet character.
I hope that the child, whom I met 5-6 years ago and imitated the laugh of Recep İvedik, is not teasing some of his girl friends at school by taking İvedik as an example!
The most terrible of all is that some parents, who are so afraid that their children will see naked breasts, do not consider it harmful to try their best to get their children under the age of 7 accepted into the movie theaters so that they can watch the comedy films, where antiheroes smash and destroy everyone around them, especially women. (BG/ŞA/APA/SD)
Images: Kemal Gökhan Gürses
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