Filed under: event, music, the city | Tags: Amy Winehouse, How I Met Your Mother, summers, TV
Or another summer gloom…
“When Amy Winehouse died, I was in New England, suffering from a severe lingual crisis.”
This is what I will tell my children when they ask about the beautiful voice they are very familiar with. However, they will have to do some Internet archeology to find out what she really meant to me. I am writing this entry mostly for them.
My summers are never exciting. I can actually say that I never enjoyed a single summer. I don’t remember one I was completely happy. When I was a child, and a teenager, which means for at least 10 years, I had to stay in Izmir during the summers while every single friend of mine escaped from the town. As a Mediterranean city, Izmir gets extremely hot in summers. You can’t get out of your apartment between 11.00am and 7.00pm. The humidity makes it impossible not to sweat while sitting at home and watching TV without AC, a technology we could not afford until I was 21. Some poets have written about İmbat, a special breeze from the sea, but it was just an urban legend for those of us who had to live behind a huge, cement wall of 7-story apartment buildings right on the seaside. The poetic breeze belonged to the habitants of those expensive apartment buildings, who ironically were never in Izmir during the summers. Those who could afford those apartments could also afford a summerhouse in Cesme or Foca, towns not very far from the city, with beautiful beaches and at least 7-8 degrees F lower temperature.
Growing up, summers meant limitless boredom, constant sweating. It was a life behind a huge wall, a life without the soothing power of the sea.
When I was 19 years old, in Galatasaray University, I made a life choice of becoming a dedicated member of a very demanding student club. For three years, the club became my life. Until then, I was a cinephile who saw in movie theaters at least 50 movies a year. I used to know which TV show was worth watching and which Internet site was lately in high demand. I was a home person, thanks to my summers in Izmir, and I was doing good in catching up with the trends. I also used to know who was getting popular in music sector. I never was one of those indie listeners, and I got to know Lauryn Hill or Norah Jones after they got all those Grammies. But I knew what was going on, I was on top of my interests.
When I finished my years at the club, I was left with two-year old songs in my iTunes. I didn’t have a clue about which movie won Oscars last year or what the heck was that “How I Met Your Mother” show everyone was fuzzing about. I was completely lost in my indifference to my former areas of interest, and summer was approaching, with nothing going well in my life.
In 2007, a terrible summer started with moving from Beyoglu to Uskudar, a drastic change of habitus for me. I left the “life” on European side and moved to so-called “calmness” on Anatolian side. It did not help. I was restless because of many unspoken things, many intended heartbreaks, and a huge ingratitude. I went to Amsterdam; it didn’t help. I knew it, Summer of 2007 was going to be another hell. When I came back from Amsterdam, I had to start my internship in an academic NGO in Etiler. It meant at least one hour commute everyday. I needed music, I needed new, popular, good music.
I remember exactly how I got to know Amy. I had noticed the fuzz about her, just like that meeting the mother show, but I didn’t pay attention. I had never felt the urge to type her name on YouTube or download at least one song of hers. None. Klum.
A boring weekend, I was zapping through channels in my decadal summer position and I found a black and white video clip on MTV. A woman with a big mouth and some tattoos was singing a song of a great pain. She was so intriguing that I could not notice the lyrics at the first time. I could not take my eyes off of her, and I felt that I finally found the voice for my summer. So hurt, so self-intolerant, so conscious, so deep. Later, I would find out that the song, Back to Black, actually described my summer before that, Summer of 2006, word by word.
Amy became my companion that summer. She told me that she knew what was going on, and she even wrote that song for me. I survived Summer of 2007 thanks to her, but four years later, probably around the same time I got to know her, she passed away.
Now, I am sitting in my hell-like dorm room, in the middle of New England. I am here to learn an extremely hard language, and going through a lingual crisis. My “mais”s became “aval”s and I am not liking it. On top of that, I am struggling with the loss of a huge talent. I wish it was as easy as another artist, but this time, maybe just because it is summer, it touched a lot. She punched a hole on that great wall for me, and her voice meant the soothing power of the sea. Now, she is gone and I will have to wait for my next black and white angel to save my summers.
So, kids, this is the story of how I met your Aunt Amy.
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!