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Monday, July 07, 2008

A Generation of Bad Press

Analysis by Mark Mayhey reporting from London, UK

Hunting Tarkan

With the sudden rise of the anti-Tarkan lobby in celeb and paparazzi circles to generate bad press about the Turkish singer in the Turkish papers again, it can only mean one thing - Tarkan is about to launch a new project, and it's time to shoot it down before it even takes off.

It's open hunting season again, and when the game is Tarkan, it's a turkey shoot for the Turkish celebrity press.

Bad Press

It only takes a basic understanding of Turkish and a quick look at recent headlines doing the rounds in the entertainment news portals to see a clear trend in the stories relating to Tarkan.

With (silly and sensationalist) headlines such as "Kim Wilde Doesn't Recognise Tarkan" or "[Top Model] refuses Tarkan!" it wouldn't be too hard to assume that some editorial hand is trying to draw Tarkan's downward spiral into failure.

Read in the cold light of reason, one might even be disappointed to find out what has really taken place is an elderly artist hasn't heard of Tarkan (or any other Turkish artist - no surprise there then) and a Turkish model, close friend of the man that directed Tarkan in "Arada Bir", couldn't appear in the same video due to prior engagements.

Yet, coupled with other reports on how Tarkan has "flopped", which either throw up old rumours in a new gloss or keep the artist's name out of headlines about the big chart hits of 2008, there is an obvious attempt to set the scene of a star past his prime.

Turkish twins talent contest
Turkish twins in talent contest
This celebrity "aversion" to the Turkish pop star even infiltrates the entertainment shows on Turkish TV. A new talent contest on Star TV, Ikizzler, (a subsidiary of the Dutch reality talent-show series Twinzz) which charts the search for sets of identical twins that can sing and dance is one such example.

Only two shows in, Tarkan has already featured in the programme (when Turkish pop music is involved that is always an inevitability), yet when contestants choose a Tarkan track to display their own vocal talents, it is ironic to see how the male jury member - a pop singer himself - completely ignores all mention about the artist. It is left up to another jury member and female singer - and friend of Tarkan - Yonca Evcimik to fill in the gaps.

It's Spin, So What?

This is nothing new for the artist. His crisis with the media is well documented. The Turkish press have been gleefully trumpeting his end for years. Other Turkish pop stars get irritated whenever he is mentioned. Plus, in the grand scale of things, should the fact that Tarkan is getting negative press be an issue at all? It's only entertainment.

As morally reprehensible as such spin might be, it's not in the arena of - say - politics for example. It won't be the cause of any riots as with South Koreans about U.S. beef in April. Such negative spin from an over enthusiastic South Korean TV report is now blamed for fanning a public crisis over US beef in the country.

To be frank, very rarely does Tarkan pull the spotlight upon himself with eccentric actions that we see in stars across the continent. When US rapper Kanye West got upset at a June concert with a fan who threw something onto his stage, the singer freaked out, turned on the lights and made fellow fans point out the culprit in the crowd. More recently at a British festival Amy Winehouse physically lashed out at a fan.

Even though Tarkan has had things thrown on the stage at his concerts, and fans constantly harass the star for items of clothing and accessories, it would be unimaginable for Tarkan to act as some of his western counterparts have done.

But - however undeserved - Tarkan is not singled out in his home industry, and where the celebrity press is concerned no one is immune. For instance, even the great Turkish pop diva Sezen Aksu, with her many great patrons in the press, is getting direct and indirect criticism for her 2008 album.

Similar to that of Tarkan's Metamorfoz, it is a more introvert album, noticeably absent of classic love songs. Aksu instead gives her own take on such personal and public issues as Turkish-Armenian Hrant Dink's death and the birth of her nephew.

Along with Aksu, Tarkan is one of the few commodities of Turkey, like music, food and football, that truly unites Turkey. Love him or loathe him, he is known across the entire country, in the most distant regions, and because he is so recognisable, Tarkan is an easy target.

It's only human nature for a celebrity press on the hunt to shoot at easy prey.

And even if sometimes it's not very entertaining - as long as it's done in the name of entertainment - at least it's one subject we can be sure Turkey won't be in a crisis over.

The views in this article are those of the author alone.
Read more Mark Mayhey articles on Tarkan >>

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