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November 27, 2012, Tuesday

‘Magnificent’ reaction

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had scathing remarks for the popular TV series “Muhteşem Yüzyıl” (Magnificent Century), which portrays the life and luxuries of Süleyman the Magnificent, accusing the series of distorting historic facts.

He then called on the judiciary to act on the issue. However, Erdoğan’s remarks received vehement criticism from columnists, highlighting the distinction between documentaries and fiction.

Radikal’s Eyüp Can says one can show their reaction against something by either verbally attacking and criticizing it or by fixing it. However, given that destroying is always easier than rebuilding, we tend to choose the former attitude. The debate over “Magnificent Century” is the latest example of this. And it is not a new debate, either; a lot was said against the series when it first aired but today the people who claimed to be “disturbed by the harem scenes” continue to watch the show. Of course no one has to like the series, but one, especially the prime minister, should not show his reaction by yelling. This is not the proper way, Can says, pointing out that a new rival series titled “Bir Zamanlar Osmanlı” (Once Upon a Time in the Ottoman Empire) by the state-run channel, TRT, began airing just after the appearance of “Magnificent Century.” Which reaction is more meaningful, Can asks.

Taraf’s Yıldıray Oğur points out that a notice at the beginning of the show declaring that “this series is entirely fictional” already states that it is not a documentary, so judging it as one is wrong to begin with. Moreover, it is a fact that more history books have been sold since the series started airing, indicating a positive influence on the public with regards to its interest in history. There is no point in Erdoğan expressing his dislike of the series or his concern for the public’s perceptions of history, Oğur states. And if he needs any consolation, he can call British Prime Minister David Cameron and have a chat about how Cameron got over the fact that the state-run BBC aired a series called “The Tudors,” which depicts King Henry VIII almost like a playboy.

Another Taraf columnist, Ahmet Altan, is also critical of Erdoğan’s remarks, saying that the prime minister is not only declaring that he doesn’t like the show but is saying that no one should watch what he doesn’t like.

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