To keep with the prison metaphor, last night’s popularity of HBO’s finale of “True Detective” crashing the HBO Go server might be a kind of prison riot. If fans are working for free to create capital for the “network,” then breaking the system, literally, seems to be a new way to represent ratings. Viewers are now disgruntle customers tweeting about how they can’t stream the show, because everyone is streaming the show. Bad publicity is still publicity. (For a live event like the Academy Awards, ABC’s Oscar app overload might have just been bad publicity!)
To further extend these thoughts about “time” in OITNB, one might observe that time-shifting is often associated with a rhetoric of “freedom,” in which the DVR is seen as offering viewers liberation from the tyranny of network scheduling, thus expanding consumer choice and control.
But the phenomenon of binge-watching, encouraged by the all-at-once release of entire seasons, suggests that viewers may use time-shifting in an entirely different way, as a strategy not to enhance choice but to reduce it. While the classic model of serial television allows the broadcaster to dictate the schedule, it also creates a shallow viewing experience, in which the viewer is offered widely-spaced glimpses into the diegetic world of the program. The binge-watching viewer seeks instead an immersive experience, one in which, paradoxically, he or she is not in control, as the language of addiction so frequently mobilized around obsessive viewing indicates. If the ordinary serial viewer is a kind of tourist in the world of the program, the binge-watcher seeks a deeper kind of integration, a metaphorical incorporation into the diegesis.
The prison setting of OITNB might be seen, then, as a metaphor for the binge-watching phenomenon. Just as Piper is immersed in the total environment of the prison, viewers are immersed within the world of the show. We can escape that immersion in a way prisoners cannot, of course, but the intensification of our experience of engagement with the characters and their world created by intensive viewing seems intriguingly parallel to the intensification of experience created by the confinement of the prison space.
Thanks Hakan. Holding the lost ones’ portraits in order to gain them visibility has of course been adopted by Saturday Mothers as well, and you could take it back to the early days of photography, to the idea of documenting the dead. And in response Bilge’s comment, the footage of Mehmet Ayvalıtaş (first person to be killed during Gezi protests) had also been “lost” for over 8 months, when they mysteriously resurfaced last month. At an age when every street corner is under surveillance 24/7, the question becomes not whether we are being watched, but what happens to that material when it becomes relevant.
Thanks Hakan! When I read your piece I thought of the surveillance video of Ali Ismail Korkmaz, the 19 year-old who was beaten to death by police officers during Gezi protests. As you know, this video did not come to daylight (so to speak!) for a very long time. The police, if I remember correctly, even claimed that there was no video footage. This is yet another example of the regime of visibility whereby politics, image-making and claims to truth and reality are all intertwined.
Yes, the leaked wiretaps between the PM and media moguls (as well other tapes involving newspaper editors) have shown what we knew for too long: that there is intense government pressure and direct manipulation on news media. I noted in my earlier comment that the AKP used carrots and sticks to re-structure media ownership. Beyond these structural manipulations, they have also been directly engaged in content manipulation— as the leaked wiretaps show.
Last summer, I was in Turkey and interviewed journalists about press freedoms under Erdogan. I listened to several stories about news outlets (print and broadcast) getting phone calls from the PM’s office or from ministers who complained about coverage, etc. Now its is out in the open , that is the extent of micro-management of news media by the AKP.
Yes, it was a indeed a very powerful performative action. Its directness, simplicity and accessibility inspired many people all around the world, all performed the same score, simply waiting in silence…
Of course waiting has lots of connotations. Waiting for Godot perhaps the first one to come in mind. But also, it reminds me waiting in line for something to get. In fact we grew up in a country of scarcity, we waited for bread, gas, and other goods…
‘Standing man’ was waiting for democracy, human rights, civil liberties, at the time of police brutality, state violence and neoliberal Islamism.
And yes, waiting is not an inactivity, it always refers to an action to follow.What should be the next? Perhaps since then we were all looking for answers, searching for the spirit of Gezi…
Thanks for the text and your comments Bilge. What do you think of the recently released recordings between the Prime Minister and various media moguls? The PM literally dictates how the media needs to be run and demands utmost control over various news. These tapes aren’t even refuted anymore, and they demonstrate a clear violation of all media ethics.
Thanks for reminding us of this small yet powerful gesture, Asli. I was wondering what you make of Erdem Gunduz’s role as a performance artist? More generally, do you think arts in Turkey have been transformed through Gezi protests?
Maybe we can also talk about the Istanbul Biennale, held in September. The original idea was to involve public art - and when all streets became sites of performance and / or exhibition throughout the protests, the organizers and the curator have chosen to cancel the public locations for the biennale and open the main location to the general public as an exhibition free of charge. I’d like to hear your opinions on these.
Yes, this is an important point. Media companies in Turkey have always had intricate political, economic ties with the governments. These “unholy alliances” if you like became the norm in the 80s and 90s when media ownership went through a transformation. Business tycoons bought media companies to use them as bargaining tools with the government for contracts, subsidies, and privatization deals, which in turn made them extremely vulnerable to pressures from the government and diminished their editorial independence.
Although government manipulation did not start with the AKP, it has definitely worsened. It is primarily because the sticks and carrots are much bigger now. In 2009, the largest media conglomerate was slapped with a massive tax fine because of its critical reporting, and this incident served to silence other media companies as well. On the other hand, the AKP cultivated its loyal media bloc by distributing lucrative contracts or facilitating the sales of troubled newspapers, television channels to its supporters.
Thanks for your answer to my previous question Bilge. I have another one: You mentioned mainstream media’s silence on Gezi Protests because of their political economic ties with the government. But is this something specific to the AKP government? Weren’t media companies always vulnerable to government pressure? What’s different now with the AKP?