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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A Matter of Taste

Editorial by Mark Mayhey reporting from London, UK

Tarkan is a music artist who has always gone for something a bit different with his hair style and clothes; does anyone remember that famous "Start the Fire" red shirt? We have sniggered, and joked, or at times admired his audacity, or sheer downright bravery for being able to pull off the most ludicrous styles. And unless you've been on the moon the last two months, you will know that he recently decided to be bit more radical than normal and opt for a mohican style haircut.

Naturally he got the usual funny remarks about mid-life crisis and BA Baracas from the A-Team fame - plus the old nineties revival of his similarity to Boy George - all that kind of stuff. Being able to laugh is half the fun, and it goes with the territory. However, it never ceases to amaze me how some people can be so prejudiced about the way you look and in particular about your hair style. It seems that people do in fact judge the book by its cover and if you don't fit in with the rest of the crowd you can expect different and sometimes even hostile treatment.

Looking back at the initial backlash from Turkish fans to Tarkan's haircut, I found it more worrying than amusing. There are plenty of nasty people that we may pass by on the street and not give a second glance because they conform to what the majority define as "normal" - so was Tarkan's biggest crime that he shaved a bit more hair from the sides rather than the top of his head?

It had been lost on the Turkish media and the fan forums that this recording artist had attended fund raisers to save the lives of children across the world, and collaborated with animal rights movement PETA to highlight the plight of those caught in the fur trade. All they could see was what Tarkan looked like, not what he did, and once again the unlucky star had made the headlines for all the wrong reasons.

The End of a Special Relationship?

But more to the point, in addition to highlighting the narrow-mindedness of the conservative fringe in Turkey, this overblown reaction shows the broken relationship the public and Tarkan have had over the last few years. Die-hard fans will protest the opposite passionately - for they too conform to type - but the split has been widening since 2005 and Tarkan is seemingly oblivious to it.

At the start of his career the artist had been all too aware of the special relationship he had with his fans, and the importance of it. He had likened it to light reflecting off itself, but the further the source moves away, the dimmer that light becomes. For the light to shine at its brightest means to cut the distance between the star and the fan, and to make the inaccessible instantly visible means new albums and using new technologies to forge tighter links between the two.

Whether the future of the music industry will be in virtual albums or digital downloads, for the artist not to join a dead formats society he needs to revitalise his official website, make it dynamic, and utilise social networking tools like Twitter. His failure to do so not only widens the gulf across which the light must shine across, but creates a vacuum in which imposters can fake his identity on said sites, leaving fans who want to connect with him even more frustrated and confused.

I have been saying this for so long that I have long ago surpassed the danger of repeating myself. I am parroting myself for the umpteenth time. Yet, I wonder what happened to the artist who fought so hard to acquire the name half a decade ago, and who now allows the site to stagnate in the "coming soon" quagmire?

This is what Tarkan must be criticised for, not his hair cut. One is a matter of taste, the other a matter of common sense.

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

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