Rest in Peace Adorno and Horkheimer! Once, in their inspiring article, they have enlightened us about the overwhelming dictatorship of the mass culture. We would become its subjects as long as we kept ourselves inside the culture industry’s consumption territory. Many words have been written after them, rebutting or supporting. I am going to talk about something else, keeping in mind the Frankfurt School’s warning. Our subject today is the dictatorship of the series.
Internet has changed our lives profoundly and this is the best cliché since whenever. Considering our attachment to virtual media, it is dully true. The advancement of streaming technology and the high speed connection have made almost every TV series available online. You can log on any website, containing the episodes of TV series even if they were broadcast years ago. The webmasters do their best for us. Wonderful torrent technology or other file sharing systems are the lovely supporters of this availability. Thus, any TV series, either you have watched them or not, are available. You are not obliged to own a TV any more. You do not have to wait for the time that it’s broadcast, you do not have to invest a fortune to DVDs (if you don’t believe in Intellectual Property Rights or can’t afford that luxury), and all you have to do is click and watch.
This brings the omnipresence of a dictatorship. The rule of dictators is usually typical in their countries: They have a massive state (Internet), an obeisant population (Look at the counters of these TV series websites!), oppressed minorities (those still haven’t picked up a popular TV series and can’t adhere into daily conversations), powerful defense forces (in Turkish case, Internet sites are constantly censured and they find a way to bypass the legalized electronic obstacles), mottos (“Respect to effort” : Emeğe Saygı) and so on. TV series are everywhere and once you are under their influence, they get more powerful.
Firstly, you devote a lot of time into that passion. Even if you are under great pressure of exams, deadlines, responsibilities; you always have time to watch one or two episodes while eating, drinking, making the dishes, doing the laundry, even running in the gym. The TV series parties are very popular among college students: When a new episode is on TV or Internet, friends gather in front of a screen to watch and make instant comments about the love affair or mystic island. People shout at the character that cheats her husband, laugh at the stupid girl desperately in love with her childhood friend, and cry for the misery of a family who literally lost everything but their physical existence, all together. TV series are time absorbing and freshly socializing.
There is also the psychological effect: This dictatorship produces a new breed: “The Carries, Teds, Rosses Among Us.” The CTRAU are a group of people who identify themselves with the TV characters so much that theylose their own identity from time to time and actually become these characters. Their lack of reality is so grave that they officially declare: “I am so Carrie today, I need new shoes.” “Well, I found love just like Ted did.” “Oh, I am such a looser of a Ross-kind.” Wake up people! You just need to spend money on shoes, or just fall in love and believe that she is the one or just be yourself in your existential crisis. You don’t need to cover yourself with another identity. But, the dictatorship does not listen to your needs; it just forces its commonalities over you.
As long as we watch that religiously these TV series, we will go on being the lovely subjects of the dictatorship. It is not too bad if we identify ourselves with the New Yorker, mid-class people. The problem is what if when we identify ourselves with the members of Sopranos? Isn’t it already obvious that people have been learning how to punch “the politically other” since the first broadcast of “Kurtlar Vadisi”?
Once again, rest in peace Adorno and Horkheimer! We are just “mass”ed up, and a new episode is on every day!