I’ve always been fascinated by the purported power of pop culture to change society, whether that be evolution of pop music in 1960s London or the influence of Mexican telenovelas across the Spanish-speaking world.
So it’s no surprise that I love (sorry, that should read LOVE) Turkish soap operas. Admittedly, I don’t understand a huge amount of them, but the beauty of watching soaps in a foreign language you only partially understand is that it doesn’t really matter: the melodramatic music and the overblown emotions ensure that you get the point, even if you didn’t understand the exact words.
But I hadn’t quite realised the sway that Turkish soap operas have across the Middle East, as this fascinating Al-Jazeera report points out. The idea explored in Kismet, the subject of the report, is that soap operas produced in relatively liberal Turkey deal with a whole range of social issues – from rape to teenage pregnancy to child marraige – that are pertinent to women’s lives across the region. The exploration of these issues in this very accessible and engaging medium is helping to inspire women from across the Middle East, and encouraging them to tackle these issues head on.
Of course, it’s very hard to scientifically demonstrate the impact that something like a soap opera can have on public perceptions, but the theory at least is pretty convincing.
Are there any other Turkish soap aficionados out there? What do you think about the power of the soap to change the world?