Obviously never been to Turkey: Why Diversity Matters

Picture this: Middle-eastern sounding music playing in the background. A bustling souk crowded with kiosks and men wearing the traditional Fez and colored galabayas.  A wicker cage moves by, the cage squawking as it shudders on its owner’s shoulder.   A chyron reads: Istanbul, Turkey.

My only thought?  Obviously they’ve never been to Turkey. 

This show was an example of what can happen when you don’t strive for diverse points of view on your project.  You might excuse this walking cliche as a quick and easy way to communicate to the audience “Middle East,” but then why not simply rely on the chyron?  You might excuse it by saying it was somehow cheaper for the production to buy fezes and galabayas, but in truth, it would have been cheaper to buy the western wear many Turks wear.  Maybe they didn’t just didn’t feel like researching Turkey, but I can’t help but think that if they’d had lots of different voices involved in its making, this scene would have never aired. Whatever their reason, they ended up missing an opportunity to show something novel, and thus more memorable. 

Picture this: American rock music mixes with Turkish dance music in the background. A bustling souk boasts men wearing western clothes and women wearing quite fashionable western attire with paisley scarves covering their hair.  A kiosk offers the latest in DVDs, the one next to it bottled water and sodas, the one next to it prayer rugs and scarves.  An old man in a long beard pushes a cart before him, filled with cucumbers.  Someone stops him, and he salts the cucumber, handing it to his customer.  A chyron reads: Istanbul, Turkey.

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Published in: on April 16, 2007 at 4:47 pm  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Look at it this way: for what it’s worth, Turkey is now of one of the leading tourism destinations in the world. They come either for or despite the image of lecherous and bloodthirsty men in fezzes and white dresses. And they leave with a profoundly different view. Turkey has such a weird reputation abroad that low expectations work miracles.

    I say: let them continue to depict Turkey like some scene from the cover of a 19th century box of Turkish delight. Those in the know will giggle and those that don’t will be titillated. Good for both sides. 🙂

  2. Experience working on games, though, suggests that players want something unique — something they’ve never seen before. This is one of humans’ natural drives — the quest for novelty. A more authentic view of Turkey would supply that need and, if this were a game, improve sales.


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