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Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Tarkan in the Eye of the Public

By Kaya Turan reporting from Rochester, UK

Lego Minimen

To be in the public eye is rather like being in the eye of the storm. You can't control it. You can't stop it. You just watch from your silent vortex the chaos going on around you.

Sometimes the chaos can make you laugh. "This youth has already overshadowed Tarkan!" screams one regional news site picking up a news wire that is proclaiming the umpteenth "next best thing" since Turkey began its love-hate relationship with its megastar.

They pull him down, then build him back up again - like a Lego set.

Here's another singer with an album out latching himself on to Tarkan to complain that the megastar is over-exaggerated - but this one is no youth. He's a UFO-believin' ol' honest-to-goodness folk singer. "What's six thousand people?" he screams from a celebrity report about Tarkan's recent Harbiye outing. "Show me any place, if I don't fill it up with 60,000 people I'll burn myself!"

I kid you not.

A Sociological Event

Pseudo-intellectual articles with socio-slants are being written about Tarkan again, riding the euphoric media wave pulled in by the tide of his latest album.

Forget his campaigns for nature, then. Or his dressing down for PETA. Tarkan's back to using Turkish motifs in his songs. All's right with the world. It's enough to turn the "fallen star" into a "comet". He's become a sociological event again.

And what about the common Turkish public?

Taking a look at the Milliyet bloggers, a site hosted by the daily paper for its readers to vent their daily frustrations out on any one who is willing to read them, shows a range from the down-right hardened Tarkan fan to the completely dismissive Turkish joe.

A quick cross-section: From one guy complaining Tarkan songs from a nearby club was drowning out their enjoyment of choral music in Mamaris, to a lady that writes about her idolisation of Tarkan with such feeling that it is a near tear-jerker.

It's a long, long profiterole of a piece, in a sugary language that works only in Turkish, which is summed up best in its final sentences about her seventeen year love affair with Tarkan:

"I wish you [were lucky enough to] see yourself as I see you. My closest friend Tarkan, I've always loved you but you never knew. I wish so much that you could love someone like this, too."

Or how about the blogger that had dropped Tarkan since 2003 only to pick him up again now that he had gathered his old team of songwriters around him once more?

Or the post from probably the only blogger in Istanbul not to have gone to Tarkan's Harbiye shows - or does it just feel like the whole city went from the press reports?

The blogger is quick to point out, however, that it was a close call: he is a Tarkan fan, but there was a concert of another singer he just couldn't miss.

So, what's the common thread between all these posts? The sense you get from reading all the posts - even Tarkan's "closest" lady friend - is that Tarkan is back.

But where had he gone? In my opinion, Tarkan's downfall is just an urban legend. You can't have a double award-winning 2007 album and four top five hits from it and be a failure.

Sadly, however, it just shows how many people in Turkey believe in it. And believing in something - however untrue - is sometimes all that matters in the eye of the public.

Seeing is believing, but it all depends on what we want to see.

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