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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Miracle Cure: Tarkan

Editorial by Mark Mayhey reporting from London, UK

On September 17, Tarkan is going to appear for a second time at a six month exposition being held in Antalya. And after managing to "fill" six dates at Harbiye's open air arena in September, a seventh has been added. Mark Mahey returns to ask: Are these real successes or just the larger part of a PR coup?

We are not only changeable, we're changing as people. In 1958, a US psychoanalyst, Allen Wheelis, published a book arguing that Freudian analysis had stopped working because the American character had altered.

In Freud's day, Wheelis argued, people didn't understand why they felt sad; psychoanalysis gave them explanations, whereupon they found it easy to transform their lives.

Modern day people are more self-aware but less determined to do anything about it. But perhaps it's just that every age has its own miracle cure, or that old techniques aren’t completely wrong; they just outlive their usefulness.

Or perhaps we are changing as people. Each subsequent generation wroughts a change on the next: And if the secret of happiness is hard to find, maybe that's because the answer keeps changing.

Of course, then there's the oft quoted adage that the more things change, the more they stay the same. People will change, but certain necessary qualities rarely do.

Take success, for example. The recent news of the success of a British company, the LADbible Group - which has overtaken competition from traditional broadcasters and publishers like BBC World to emerge as the number one most watched media property group in Europe - shows that to be successful requires you to be authentic, be prolific and not afraid to try new things.

The success of Tarkan within the confines of Turkey - he was a "one hit wonder" in Europe - was founded on these qualities, until about 10 years ago. Because another way to success is not through personal quality but private patronage.

In 2007, the chasm that existed between the Turkish popular press and Tarkan was at its widest. A year before the singer had described it as a crisis of trust, but the relationship was never an easy one. Often viewed by the nineties press as a German upstart with his European ways (he had no qualms about exposing his ass-ets for photos), the general public, however, took him to their hearts.

On his side, the pop icon became unwilling to put his life on display through the editorial lens of sarcastic journalists for the public to view, and rarely gave interviews. The more his actions, activities, and opinions were all packaged, distributed, and consumed as a product, the more he became reserved. And the more the public took him to heart.

Then things changed. Although Tarkan remained reserved, the Turkish press became deferential, and a new era of cosiness began between star and the entertainment media.

There were three main factors for this change. Tarkan had a) signed up to his current music label in 2007, owned by a Turkish billionaire media tycoon, b) changed from his bad boy nineties era getup to a more conservative stance, and then three years later c) was arrested for possession of drugs.

The media seemed to have the singer banged to rights. On the back of a failed English album, cementing his one hit wonder status outside of Turkey, and the critical slaughter of his following Turkish album release, they now had him detained in custody for drug use.

Something that ordinarily should have been a simple criminal matter, became public property. It's the curse of fame. As journalists we feel celebrities should somehow be perfect if they are gifted by talent, and as fans we feel our emotional investment in a pedestal - however onesided - gives us the right to pry.

Both are wrong: talented people are often the most fucked up characters you'll meet, and no emotional investment gives you the right to be a creepy stalker. Celebrities don't owe their fans anything that invades their personal right to privacy and security, yet the idea persists, and with fans and the entertainment press there is a false sense of entitlement to the life of a famous person.

Conversely, this is what saved Tarkan's career. His billionaire backer and music label turned this myth of entitlement to the comeback story of the century, with a 2010 album that saw more chart success and more accolades thrown at it than his second, third and fourth studio albums put together, of which the 2010 release was a poor imitation.

Since then, his critics have disappeared, been silenced, or converted. And what is rarely spoken about is that Tarkan's modern "success" has not been down to the icon, but down to the fiscal art of showbusiness - and the public's romantic nostalgia towards an era that looks more innocent and carefree (but wasn't) when looked at from the vantage point of these violent times.

Tarkan himself knows he is trapped by his engineered comeback success - that talented part of him, which still remains and was responsible for his true successes years ago, knows why a caged bird sings better than anyone.

He is a perfect example of how people change, and how what once worked, doesn't now. And however strong the support that allows you to just act the part, there comes a time you need to remind people of your talent, before you outgrow your usefulness.

In a fickle world, filled with fickle people, there is no single answer to escape disillusionment. Being able to move people to happiness or to its measure of cathartic sadness might be one. For that, Tarkan doesn't need his backers or his open air concerts to prove he was talented enough to do that once, he needs serious musical output to prove he is still the miracle cure for Turkey's ills.

Then perhaps he will prove Ali Yildirim right when he wrote that Tarkan would "rise again". But for that to happen, you need to first acknowledge your fall.

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

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