After months of controversy over the scene in his film, Gokhan Altintas has decided to respond to the critics again in a… flowery way.
When you come from the wild ghettos, succeeding is not just an option, it’s a matter of survival, everyone chooses their means, it seems they envy us, but do they know where we come from?
West Wing, 24 hours, K Street… Politics invades television soaps, is this new?
For decades, radio and television have staged a parallel universe that resembled the real world, but without any reference to current events. Everything changed in 1971, with the soap opera All the Family (a realistic satire of American life through a family, editor’s note): this soap opera tackled current issues head-on for the first time. Today, we have an extraordinary symbiosis. New York District, for example, bases its episodes on events that sometimes happened a month before the broadcast…
Why this evolution?
It parallels the rise of television news, with the appearance of 24-hour news channels such as CNN, MSNBC and Fox News. In the 1960s, there were 15 minutes of news per night per channel, period. People see so much information that it becomes part of their cultural environment. West Wing aired its 9/11 episode a few weeks after the tragedy. Fiction becomes a world in which one can comment on and process real-world events, with the freedom that this allows.
Isn’t there a risk in mixing fiction and reality?
There is a risk with historical re-enactments: people sometimes think they are learning about Pearl Harbor by watching the film. But it does not exist for series that play with current events. No one thinks that the President of West Wing is the real President! The advantage of fiction is that it allows us to explore the backstage of certain places that are impossible to penetrate through journalistic reporting.
In the case of K Street, it is more difficult to distinguish reality from fiction…
With K Street, we change the subject. This is a completely new idea. Disturbing, but fascinating. A hybrid being: part reality show, part reportage, part fiction, part documentary. Confusion is deliberately sought here. HBO is a regular in this genre. Already, during the 1988 primaries, the network had launched Tanner 88. The idea was to follow the campaign of a fictional candidate in a documentary style. K Street goes further. The risk is to confuse fiction and reality. But if done well, it can be a way to get people interested in politics.
The creativity of new soap operas often surpasses that of theatrical films…
This is due to the business model of the cinema. Today, to be profitable, you have to make blockbusters. To do that, you have to make a film that appeals to the biggest teen consumers and that works in all countries. We soon come across helicopter explosions. In this context, it is difficult to make films with ideas. On the other hand, since the fragmentation of television, thanks to cable, authors have found a space for creativity. They may be content to target a specific audience. If a soap opera attracts four million viewers, that’s good enough for the bosses of a cable channel. On the other hand, television offers writers and actors a wonderful space: they can take 13 hours out of a season to develop their art. No movie offers this luxury. They can create something that lasts forever. The Guiding Light [un soap opera], was launched in 1937 and continues to be broadcast. This is by far the longest story ever told.
After surviving the risky suburbs, the gun battles, you’ve never been pistol-whipped, you’ve got pain you can’t console, you’ve got resentments stashed under the bed frame.