İsmail O. Postalcıoğlu
From time to time, people around me criticize my column for the lack of "serious
stuff." We have all been living in Turkey for more than 20 years, so we all know that
"serious stuff" means politics for a Turkish person (outside of a stadium). No
matter which aspect of life you show, or which facts you reveal, people will expect you to
criticize or support the government in a newspaper column.
Just before typing this article (March 6, 7 p.m.), I read about the death of Jean
Baudrillard, one of the most important philosophers in contemporary history. There are
many interesting claims in his books and articles. For instance, and this might sound
disturbing to you, Baudrillard claims that in the 21st century, politics does not exist
outside of television studios.
In a world where people sit in the coffee shops to see the beginning of the Baghdad
bombardment, parliamentary candidates conduct their campaigns through web sites, and
military headquarters are full of all kinds of screens (communication screens, radars,
etc.), one cannot separate politics from communication. We are living in an era in which
ÖSYM sues seven students just because they've written a song* and Türk Telekom bans a
YouTube broadcast because of a video about Atatürk.**
Since contemporary politics is conducted within/through communication tools, every comment
on communication technologies and communication culture is echoed in a political sense.
That's why thinkers such as Jean Baudrillard, Paul Virilio, Manuel De Landa and Slavoj
Zizek are taken so seriously in political theory.
But in Turkey, we love to classify things. If you talk about Harry Potter or MTV, it
cannot be something important. I can't see why this is. It mustn't be this hard to
understand that both Harry Potter and George W. Bush are nothing but media-contrived
images. One might come up and say, "Okay, but the bombs killing those Iraqis are
real!" My answer to this cliché would be, "Do you take the war that seriously?
If you really feel like tens and hundreds of people are dying in Iraq everyday, how can
you happily talk about your favorite soccer team with your friends? How can you eat your
dinner comfortably while those people are shot? How can you sleep at night?"
Honestly, how many of us really feel like those things are happening outside of a TV
screen? How many of us (other than conspiracy theorists) have a confident idea about
what's going on? How many people can share a completely reliable source with me to discuss
politics here on Life Etc.? Even if I used that great source, how many of you
would believe me? Not many, I suppose.
This column does not aim at helping people pretend to care about so-called world events;
I'm sorry. Take away a distorted political perspective from this column, if you want.
That's the best way I can come up with a way to pack reality into 500 words.
* "ÖSYM Hakkında Şarkıya Dava Açıldı" NTVMSNBC.
** "Youtube'a Erişim Yasağı" Hürriyet. 6 March 2007.