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LQD: European Romance Televised

by das monde Thu Mar 27th, 2008 at 06:36:12 AM EST

As commonly observed, the modern TV is not about news or education, especially in the US. TV programs hook up and play with most basic psychological reactions and dumb down our senses. Can't commercial TV really do no better than stimulate most basic brain circuits and entertain our egos?

Here below is an interesting view from the American continent to European TV experience. Does European TV indeed remain diverse and still enlightening, or is it getting trashy just as well? Does it indeed regularly offer not only confrontational entertainment, but likeably provokes all loving states on mind as well?

Here is the story from David Neiwert's blog:

Dave's [last post] points up just how complicit the media has become in perpetuating the kind of sticky, pernicious racial conflicts so much of the country is trying hard to get past. The deeper problem here, of course, is that conflict sells -- you really can't have any kind of dramatic narrative, fiction or non-fiction, without it. And it's very hard to get the American media to give up on a conflict narrative that's served so many social and political interests so reliably for so long -- even when it's become patently clear to everyone that that narrative is now savaging the soul of the country.

And the infuriating part of it is: It doesn't have to be this way. To prove the point, I'd like to offer two examples of how other countries are using media constructively -- and incredibly powerfully -- to actively help people get past this stuff, instead of staying stuck in it.


The second example is a Canadian TV series, Little Mosque on the Prairie.

The first example comes from Greece. Two summers ago, my son and I went to Athens for a couple of weeks, where we stayed with my grandmother's very best friend -- an elderly Greek woman we'd absorbed into our family clan decades ago as a shirttail aunt. The second night after we arrived, Menie cut dinner short and shooed us all over to the TV. It was time for her favorite show, The Borders of Love. Apparently, it was the biggest TV phenomenon in both Greece and Turkey that year; in both countries, everybody hung on every episode and discussed it in the shops and streets for days afterward. So we gathered in the front room, and settled down to watch.

The Borders of Love was a Romeo-and-Juliet tale of Nazli, a beautiful young Turkish woman, who falls in love with Niko, a dashing Greek man. The series followed the various social dilemmas this unlikely pairing caused -- the cultural clashes between the two of them, issues with co-workers, bosses, neighbors, and friends, and (especially) the huge upsets this caused within their respective families. Dramatically, this isn't anything particularly new -- but there was an interesting twist that made it remarkable in a world-changing way.

Nazli's part of the story was scripted in Turkish, with Greek subtitles supplied. Niko's friends and family all spoke Greek, with Turkish subtitles supplied. And the show was shown -- and became a massive hit -- in both countries. Young Greek men snapped up posters of the elegant Nazli; Turkish girls swooned over handsome Niko.

But the show caused a shift that went much deeper than that. As Greeks and Turks found themselves rooting for the young couple to make it through (which they did: their wedding show was a landmark TV event on both sides of the Bosporus), many of them began to question the thousands of years of mutual animosity that, in most cases, had become nothing more than a reflexive habit. People from both countries began seeking each other out and having civil conversations (often with their fondness for the show as the opening piece of common ground). New trade initiatives were launched; the amount of business between the two countries soared. Greeks and Turks on the street realized they had more in common than baklava and belly dancing; that, as neighbors, they were stuck with each other -- and that might not, in the end, be an awful thing. If Nazli and Niko could make it work in the face of their crazy families, they decided, maybe the rest of them could give it a try, too.

Living next to other countries means not only old fights, wrangles and misunderstanding. Occasionally that offers, embarrassingly or not, experiences of falling in love with each other.

Anyone watched The Borders of Love?

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French TV/culture weekly Télérama has an article on this (not online unfortunately) this week. A German TV series called Türkisch für Anfänger (Turkish for Beginners) is about to go on one of Canal + 's cable/sat channels. Dubbed into French, with an unfortuantely silly title, Family Mix.

Türkisch für Anfänger is about a German-Turkish couple, each of whom has children from an earlier marriage: teenage girl, boy, teenage girl, boy, so a symmetrical extended family of Germans and Turks. And a playground for comedy based on cultural prejudice, commonplaces, etc. Apparently it didn't draw big audiences in Germany, but got through to a second and now third season.

Télérama refers to The Little Mosque on the Prairie and also to Aliens In America, which plays around the arrival of a Pakistani student in a Wisconsin high school. And regrets that French TV has not made any attempt at this kind of comedy to date.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Mar 27th, 2008 at 09:58:25 AM EST
Türkish for Anfänger is a pretty good show.
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Thu Mar 27th, 2008 at 05:00:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
great story!

art can reach the heart in ways normal politics haven't a clue about.

the younger you can plant the good values, the better...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Mar 27th, 2008 at 11:03:31 AM EST
Is the italian sound track of the video by Tiziano Ferro you posted  really the original one???

La répartie est dans l'escalier. Elle revient de suite.
by lacordaire on Fri Mar 28th, 2008 at 03:30:02 AM EST
I don't know. Wikipedia says the series composer is Gökhan Kırdar. Can you find more on the official website?

Most You tube videos show still images with music.

by das monde on Fri Mar 28th, 2008 at 04:09:38 AM EST
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