Saturday, June 19, 2010

Why Arabs love Turkish soaps?

If this seems like a triumph of Western values by proxy, the Muslim context remains the crucial bridge. “Ultimately, it’s all about local culture,” said Irfan Sahin, the chief executive of Dogan TV Holding, Turkey’s largest media company, which owns Kanal D. “People respond to what’s familiar.” By which he meant that regionalism, not globalism, sells, as demonstrated by the finale of “Noor” last summer on MBC, the Saudi-owned, Dubai-based, pan-Arab network that bought rebroadcast rights from Mr. Sahin. A record 85 million Arab viewers tuned in.

That said, during the last 20 years or so Turkey has ingested so much American culture that it has experienced a sexual revolution that most of the Arab world hasn’t, which accounts for why “Noor” triumphed in the Middle East but was considered too tame for most Turks. Even Mr. Sahin wonders, by contrast, whether the racier “Ask-i Memnu,” a smash with young Turks, threatens to offend Arabs unless it is heavily edited.

“You have to understand that there are people still living even in this city who say they only learned how to kiss or learned there is kissing involved in lovemaking by watching ‘Noor,’ explained Sengul Ozerkan, a professor of television here who conducts surveys of such things. “So you can imagine why the impact of that show was so great in the Arab world and why ‘Ask-i Memnu’ may be too much.

“But then, Turkey always acts like a kind of intermediary between the West and the Middle East,” she added.
-Turks Put Twist in Racy Soaps

No comments: