Cinema, television, radio, theater and even songs, cartoons, paintings, sculptures, architectural works and all cultural but also communication environments or objects can be used, are used and will be used for the purpose of shaping public opinion. Access to information is one of fundamental rights. It is a constitutional right to have both access to information as well as to have freedom of expression, that includes not only thanking, but more so to express and spread… Can it be a power, or weakness? No matter how you look at it, it is certain that manipulation or use of information by those at the helm of power, business, industry to achieve both good and very bad goals, has been a routine of history of all civilizations all through the history of humankind.
A while ago, I assume in early 2000s, there was a TV soap opera, “Sağır Oda” or “The Sealed Room.” By the end of the first five minutes of the first episode, the skeptical journalistic part of my character, was alarmed. I thought someone must have started an operation that evening. In that episode Jews, Turkish Jews of Crimean origin, Sabataists, Freemasons, members of some sort of a mafia-type organization had access to everything in the country, security forces, judiciary, all the power centers were at their disposal. It was a perception operation. In the cast of the episode many influential right-wing, left-wing people, a senior script writer, former politicians were on the cast of the episode. A former minister was the “consultant.” I was so startled with the style, content as well as the strong influence of that first episode on me.
Of course, since the beginning of television broadcasts, propaganda or political promotional activities, commercial promotions used in cinema have become the new address of efforts to prepare the public for desirable ideas and to shape public opinion. Television has always been a serious tool, as has cinema been, both with its exemplary family images, the definition of enemies, and even the “education” of what is consumed and what is not consumed. Remember Vietnam and the Hollywood movies, the Rambos. Think of the Malkoçoğlu character in old Turkish films and other great heroes who crash armies with one fist but didn’t even get hurt. Nothing’s changed.
In the fight against terrorism, the “subliminal message” charges often used in indictments against the accused. The phenomenon is essentially the legacy of 20th century advertising techniques. Subliminal communication, that is the type of message that is not formally disclosed but passed away in many discreet forms and that aim to shape people’s perception without people indeed realize anything at all. Especially the advertising sector uses this tool a lot. Does politics use this method as well? You have to take a look. For example, how compatible it is with the propaganda technique expressed by making unwarranted insinuations about someone, questioning competence and legitimacy with blatant claims. As is often said, “If you say something 40 times, even you believe it is true on the 41st repeat.”
A controversy has been spreading in Cyprus recently over the film “Once Upon a Time in Cyprus.” The families of Dr. Fazıl Küçük and Rauf Denktaş, the two great leaders of the Turkish Cypriot struggle for survival, and their supporters believe that both leaders are relegated as “side elements” in the film, that the big role they play in the resistance, even the Turkish Resistance Organization, is ignored, and that there is a rudeness of them being “sidelined.”
Are they right? Of course, “Once Upon a Time in Cyprus” is just a film. It is not a documentary but a serial film based on historical events. The locations, historical details, order of developments might not exactly match. How could anyone belittle the great role Küçük and Denktaş played in the struggle for survival of the Turkish Cypriot people. Instead of creating thunderstorms in a cup of tea, would it not be better to believe that Turkey and Turkish Cypriot people are so close that there is no such need for indirect talk.