Following up on news today that the government of Turkey has blocked YouTube (Link), an anonymous Turkish BoingBoing reader shares some background:
I've been following this one for a little while. It's pretty retarded.The "Kemal Gay Turk" video is no longer available on Google/YouTube. I don't know whether the service removed it, or the user/uploader.
A (presumably) Greek youtube user named stavreatos uploaded a video that (if I remember correctly) had a picture of Ataturk, his eyes bulging out talking about how he's gay, insulting himself, talking about how all Turks are Gay etc. Pretty South Park type affair, though both less amusing and also with less good intentions. Somehow it ended up in the most popular video category in my rss reader a while back.
A day later or so, one of Turkey's largest newspapers, Milliyet, put it on their website.. Milliyet, like most large Turkish newspapers is more tabloid than news, more direct emotional manipulator than fact, and the kind of all around crap you see in most places (A useless thinly held story as an excuse to show pictures of half naked women, headlines like "He's spewing poison!", etc.)
Anyway, they made news of the video on Monday (Link), with a campaign to basically spam Youtube with letters to have the video removed. Here's the story (Link), with the English (bad english nonetheless) letter on the bottom of the page. [Ed. Note: screengrab at left, link to full-size]
On Tuesday they reported that the video (called "Kemal Gay Turk") was, in their own words, "Drowned under 220 thousand letters". Though I'm currently not in Turkey, I presume it was prime time news for lazy reporters who just want to glue people to the screen by making them feel under attack. It was this video that prompted the court to restrict access to the site.
Though I was unable to locate the original video, if you type in "Kemal Gay Turk" in youtube now, you'll find a couple of dozen response videos by some Turks. I'm sure these stories sound vaguely familiar to who lives in a country that has a historical grudge against another one. Comment box wars, hundreds of videos calling each other names, usually in bad English, etc. (Which does give it a surreal Borat-ish humor. If only it wasn't real.)
In other words, Youtube access in Turkey was restricted because a bunch of kids with nothing better to do kept calling each other faggots. Online. With Youtube videos.
I am curious if some Greek speaking/reading Boing Boingers would like to tell us how all this silliness has been received over on the other side.
Dozens of those "response" videos remain, with Boratian titles like "Re: Kemal Gay Turk (fuck you Greece! we will fuck Greeks!)." Most are clumsy montages consisting of naked male statues, photos of Greek political leaders in front of rainbow flags, Coldplay songs (figure that one out yourself), and nationalist troll text. In others, a single ranter faces the webcam, hurling insults.
Anyone have a mirror for the original "Kemal Gay Turk" video? And incidentally, how is "fuck you Greece! we will fuck Greeks!" a defense of a nation's besmirched heterosexuality? Eh, nevermind, it's the internets.
Previously on BoingBoing:
Reader comment: ScottG In NYC says,
I lived and worked in the broadcast industry in Istanbul about 10 years ago, and as far-out as this kind of thing seems to us Americans, it's really not that uncommon over there at all. It's essentially the equivalent of the government making the "offender" sit in the corner and write out their "crime" on the chalkboard of their medium ad infinitum during their time-out period.UPDATE: Wired's 27B Stroke 6 blog has more on the story, including more censorship-evading tips for folks inside Turkey: Link.
It's questionable if the application of this is truly about insulting the pervasive Ataturk cult of personality - believe me, Turks can hang with us New Yorkers in the daily insult department - or something else. For instance, while I was there a popular primetime TV sitcom made what was very obviously a tame joke about an unmarried middle-aged woman in the government (far less worse than anything you'd hear any day on US TV or talk radio about, say, Janet Reno). If memory serves correctly, the next day the entire network was similarly kneecapped for about three days, broadcasting the "insulting Turkishness" message for the duration. I heard about other sporadic incidents since then, again over stuff that's considered mundane and trivial back here.
I wouldn't be surprised at all if this isn't more of a pre-emptive move to keep the tempers of the more nationlistic from boiling over about the whole Greek thing, which as we know has been going on for decades (and really, really needs to stop - I had a front row seat to an ugly border crossing incident between the two that was completely uncalled for, again over nothing). Will be very interesting to see how long this one goes for and how it's ultimately resolved...
(FYI: this link gives more info from the Turkish side about the content in question)
Boing Boing editor/partner and tech culture journalist Xeni Jardin hosts and produces Boing Boing's in-flight TV channel on Virgin America airlines (#10 on the dial), and writes about living with breast cancer. Diagnosed in 2011. @xeni on Twitter. email: firstname.lastname@example.org.