My “Useful tips for Turkish playwrights and theater troupes,” (this column, May 9, 2012) was a humble attempt to help the art world. The thriving theater industry in the country was in danger and all I could do was to offer playwrights government-friendly re-writes for classics like “Julius Caesar” and “Macbeth” and the children’s play “King Midas.” I knew that was too little to offer.
Half a year later, the first casualty was “The Magnificent Century,” the popular Turkish TV drama which, according to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, falsely depicts our faultless ancestors.
More recently, Mr. Erdoğan’s men at the state broadcasting watchdog levied a fine on the cartoon “The Simpsons” because a particular episode “makes fun of God; it shows one of the characters abusing another’s religious beliefs; it insults religious beliefs; and it even encourages alcohol consumption.”
No doubt, “The Simpsons’” creator, Matt Groening, is an exceptional talent of visual creativity. But apparently his producers failed to warn him about the risk of angering the world’s emerging superpower and its super-leader. I myself have never watched the popular animated series, but I feel obliged to offer Mr. Groening a “better” episode of “The Simpsons” purely for my respect for millions of Turkish fans who would not wish to see, in a future episode, the whole Simpsons family being locked up in jail for insulting Turkish values.
In my version, Homer, the father who works as a safety inspector at a nuclear plant, returns home one day and announces to the family that he has found a better job in a foreign country. “Pack up, we are going to Turkey!” he says joyfully. He will work as a safety inspector at a nuclear plant being built in Turkey. His wife, Marge, is confused: “Are you sure this is a good idea?” “D’oh!” exclaims Homer. “Which planet are you living in? Don’t you know that Turkey is the new America
with its glittering wealth, democracy and peace thanks to its great leader Erdoğan? It’s the land of the free, brave, rich, powerful and faithful.”
Within a month the Simpsons settle in a beautiful, small Turkish town on the coastline. They make great Turkish friends. Soon Homer realizes, to his surprise, that his son Bart is no longer the trouble-maker he once was. He becomes curious and finds out that his son had been heavily influenced by his new friends in the neighborhood. They teach him how a Turkish Muslim child should behave.
That’s how Homer first aspires to learn more about Islam. Meanwhile, Marge begins to learn Turkish traditions and cooking from her neighbors and is no longer the stereotypical American
wife. She now vaguely covers her head before going out shopping and quietly leaves the living room when Homer comes home with his male Turkish friends to discuss Islam for several hours over cups of tea.
Homer stops smoking and no longer frequents bars and taverns like he did in Springfield, U.S. That’s not because of the fact that there is not a single bar in his new town, but because he discovers how even a drop of alcohol can destroy the well-being of a whole society.
Finally, Homer decides to convert to Islam. The circumcision is a little bit painful for his age, but he does not care. He takes the name “Hacı” and promises to devote all his life and work to God’s way. Hacı is now very active in politics and spends all his spare time helping the poor and less fortunate locals. In a short time he takes up a leading position in the local offices of the ruling party.
Meanwhile, Bart (now Bartu) and his sister Lisa (now Leyla) attend the local religious school, with Bartu dreaming of becoming an imam. The 8-year-old Leyla does what any virtuous girl of her age does and decides to cover her head with the Islamic headscarf. And her mother, now Macide, is working for a charity to build the small town’s 76th mosque.
“The Simpsons - Episode Eternal Peace of Prayer” ends with the family living happily ever after in that small picturesque Turkish town…