Between magnificence and monstrosity: Turkishness in recent popular cinema

Suner A.

NEW PERSPECTIVES ON TURKEY, no.45, pp.123-154, 2011 (Journal Indexed in SSCI) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Publication Date: 2011
  • Page Numbers: pp.123-154


This paper studies the idea of Turkishness as one thematic element that commonly characterizes recent Turkish box-office champions. The preoccupation with the idea of Turkishness in recent popular cinema can be seen as a reflection of Turkish society's bafflement with the process of rapid and intensive transformation during the 2000s. In this period, Turkish society has grown increasingly confused about how to assess its own worth in the contemporary world. The paper makes use of the terms "magnificence" and "monstrosity" to make sense of the excessive representations of Turkishness in Turkish box-office champion action films and comedies of the second half of the 2000s. The term "magnificence" stands for aspirations in Turkish society during the last decade about the revival of the glory of the Ottoman past and becoming a powerful actor again on the world scene. The term "monstrosity" is employed in relation to Turkish society's cynical indifference to the violence perpetrated by the Turkish state, which is often rendered acceptable through the presumption of "Turkish peculiarity." The paper points to the continuity between recent blockbuster action films and comedies in their representations of Turkishness by suggesting that magnificence and monstrosity appear in these films as two sides of the same coin.