The Ottoman Invasion That Greeks Love English Language Essay

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The term soap opera usually refers to a type of television show of continuous, episodic form that is presented with dramatic fiction and usually has socio-sentimental content. Known shortly as ''soaps'', they were originated in the United States and are so called because of their first major donor producers which were various detergent companies. Another scenario of their name is that as soap operas were originally aired on the radio as short everyday stories of a serial format, their main audience was housewives who at the time were probably occupied with cleaning. The "operas" on the other hand is the ironic title that American journalists gave them, criticizing these kinds of TV shows.

Soap operas have been undoubtedly a part of Western culture as well since the television invasion in our households. The first daytime soap operas in Europe make their appearance in the United Kingdom during the early 1950s and around middle 1960s become a British institution. Moving across the majority of the European countries, usually the economically independent ones, they reach Greece. "Greece was the last country in western Europe to introduce a national television system" in 1966 which did not fully operate until a year later. "The arrival of television also coincided with the coming to power of the Colonels, whose junta lasted until 1974." (O'Donnell, 1999)

During the late 1980s and early 1990s the nature of the TV landscape in Greece completely changed, with the arrival of the American daytime serial The Bold and the Beautiful. Continuously changing hosting channels, The Bold and the Beautiful was the first experience of the Greek audience of the so called soap operas. It proved to be "enormously popular, with the streets of Greek towns and cities reportedly emptying when it was on air". (O'Donnell, 1999)

A couple of years later soap operas of Latin-American production started airing at almost every Greek channel and managed to won a considerable big percentage of everyday views ratings. The audience was mainly teenage girls who at the time the soap operas were on air, they had just returned from school (around 13.00-17.00).

After almost a decade of the Latin-American soap operas' dominion in Greek television, a new trend emerges with The Borders of Love of 2004 (originally titled Yabanci Damat), a Turkish soap opera presenting the love story of a Turkish woman and a Greek man. Even before the first episode was aired, TV and printed advertisements raised multiple reactions, conflicts and upheavals between TV reviewers and various Talk-shows participants. As The Borders of Love was proved very successful, in terms of ratings, four years later Turkish soap operas return dynamically to the hearts of the Greek audience with Thousand and One Nights (originally titled Binbir Gece). The positive response of the Greek audience in 2008 was immediate and unexpected since it scored almost double the views of The Borders of Love of 2004. "Even on the first day of the World Cup, Binbir Gece captured 30.5 percent of viewers, overshadowing the opening game between France and Uruguay - the first time that a soap opera ever beat the ratings of a soccer match in Greece" says an article posted in the Website of the New York Turkish Club.

The criticism of course was again intense and this time continuous, following each and every episode. The major points of discussion for the TV reviewers were the historical past of Greek and at Turkey and their present political and territorial conflicts. Something not yet answered that is raising even more questions is the fact that although Turkish series are following the already tested and successful soap opera recipe, they seem to gather more and more viewers, overcoming almost all other series ever aired in the history of Greek television. The audience is continuously increasing and is found amongst every segment of the Greek population regardless of sex, age, social or marital status and/or other aspects. What really makes them so appealing to the Greek audience?

Abstract

The purpose of the following research project is to investigate these very reasons of the astonishing success of the Turkish soap operas to the Greek audiences. Previous studies made upon the issue of soap operas will be thoroughly examined in order to identify the soap operas' key elements and study what differentiates them from Turkish productions. This research will mainly focus upon the audience identification and the features and characteristics of soap operas. Furthermore, several research methods will be conducted in order to discover and analyze the characteristics of Turkish soap operas that are so appealing to the Greek audience.

Initially, I was interested in conducting this study as I have been a viewer of such productions myself for some time, and I would like to investigate possible reasons that attracted me and thousands of other TV viewers. I have perceived for long, this Turkish trend as a controversial issue, given the present political state between Greece and Turkey. I find the mass media and their audiences a rather difficult field for observation since there are different wants, needs, values, morals and biases in every individual and the audience cannot be seen as a whole. Despite the difficulty though, I accepted the challenge to make an effort to identify the reasons of the Turkish soap opera appeal and examine what are those elements that Greeks find so attractive and interesting to a culture that have for years loved to hate.

Literature Review

Books

Rethinking the Media Audience

By Pertti Alasuutari

Since my study field will be Turkish soap opera audiences, I firstly thought of finding out what the term "audience" really stands for in order to decide where to focus. Chapter 9: To Be an Audience was proved an essential reading since it identifies some major arguments on whether and when an individual can or cannot be called "audience". Alasuutari says for example that a housewife that has simply left the television open in a particular channel when a particular program is on air while she is occupied with some household work and does not really pay attention to it, cannot be considered as an audience member just because she is contributing to the ratings of the program or channel. While he supports that different types of audiences exist, such as immediate and mediated audiences, he identifies four (4) main criteria that an individual must fulfill in order to be called an audience member. The first is exposure that is an individual or group of individuals being exposed to a particular message of some mass medium. The second criterion which he identifies is attention, that stands for whether the individual or the group pay attention to the message that are being exposed to and are able to decode its meanings. Third criterion is retention or otherwise remembrance, that constitutes of the ability of the group or individual to retain the information and meaning of the particular message and maybe store it in memory for further or future analysis. Alasuutari views inducement as the fourth and last criterion, which is the shaping of the individual's or group's perceptions and beliefs upon a particular matter, sometimes this meaning that the individual will engage in behavior or actions that were driven by his/her exposure, attention and retention of the message. I found the aforementioned information extremely helpful, for they have helped me form potential questions for both intensive interviews and/or questionnaires. I also have myself a more clear understanding of what it is like To Be an Audience and what it requires in order for someone to be considered an audience member.

The Soap Opera Paradigm: Television Programming and Corporate Priorities

By James H. Wittebols

Having effectively defined audiences, the next step I had to take was to define the soap opera genre and identify these traits that separate it from other types of TV shows. As I went through all chapters of the specific book, I saw that it was mostly television programming and marketing-oriented and I was ready to exclude it from my literature review since nothing was related to my research. Luckily, I discovered a subchapter named "Market-critical Elements in Soap Operas" that lists five (5) elements of "soap opera storytelling that serve the need of profitable accumulation". According to James Wittebols "soap opera storytelling is regarded as the commodity form of television and is its most profitable genre. Stories in soap opera formats are organized in ways designed to develop and maintain audience interest." "Generally a genre can be defined as a set of characteristics shared by a group of television programs that distinguishes them from other types of shows. Genre offers assurance about a show's pacing, storytelling, consistency, and expectations about the behavior of characters to both advertisers and the audience."

Seriality, that is the link from one program to the next, is soap operas' most illustrious characteristic. "Suspension of stories until the next episode is a primary element in developing audience loyalty." Real-time orientation also plays an important role as it reflects an everyday world in which events stream as impeccably as possible to generate an air of realism. This is planned to give the viewers a sense of immediacy. As they replicate the larger culture's calendar, they offer a parallel to the viewer's own world. Seeming intimacy is identified as the third characteristic and is defined as "a sense of involvement or spectatorship for the audience without actually being there." Viewers grow to be the "fly on a wall" in the globe of soaps, as soap storytelling gets the audience into the minds of the cast of characters residing in a soap opera community. Story exposition is "the manner in which stories are presented to audiences" that "allows them to gain a sense of omniscience by grasping the overall set of relationships in the story." "Through multiple perspectives on a story, the audience comes to feel a greater command of an issue or situation that do the characters of the soap." The fifth and last element lies within three (3) sub traits that are found in every soap opera story with no exceptions. "Conflict and/or chaos, good and evil characters, and generally presenting a materially comfortable upper-middle-class existence" help classify the kinds of themes established in soap operas.

Good Times, Bad Times: Soap Operas and Society in Western Europe

By Hugh O'Donnell

Proceeding with my research, I realized that examining the history of the soap operas within the culture of Western Europe would be extremely useful, as it proved to be. Interestingly enough, at the end of the 1980s there were eight (8) television soap operas and almost all of them were found within the United Kingdom. By 1997 the number of soap operas had increased to over fifty (50) airing in fourteen (14) different countries and almost all during early evening or prime time. The specific book provided me with a detailed and summative analysis of all new soap operas of Western Europe that have appeared since the 1990s, based on continuous and prolonged viewing. It outlines the recitative and plot structure of each serial and gives a detailed discussion of the different kind of audiences that they address positioning them within the tele-visual culture of each country. Additionally, each chapter constitutes of each country and its history with soap operas, including Greece. By doing so, the author provided me with unique data that helped me understand the preferences of the Western Europe audiences regarding TV series and the choices they have made so far mostly in terms of plot and directing.

Furthermore, the last chapter of the book called Some Interim Conclusions consists of a very comprehensive summary of what the author perceives as being the features and characteristics of soap operas which of course constitute the main reasons of their appeal and success. Listing some of them I was afterwards able to compare them with what I had found that has been written about the features and characteristics of the Turkish soap operas. For instance, "the total absence of long-term unemployment (despite very high levels of unemployment in some of the countries where these programs are shown)", "the almost complete absence of the industrial working class", "the consistently heavy over-representation of emotionally 'available' characters", "the sustained avoidance of virtually any references to politics in the party-political sense", and of course "the ever-increasing trend towards glamour which can now be found almost everywhere, and of which the appearance of beauty queens and male models among the cast of these serial is only the most striking indication" are some of the most common elements that are found between the most - if not all soap operas, that have been a huge success among Western European countries.

Tune In, Log On: Soaps, Fandom and Online Community

By Nancy K. Baym

The first chapter of the book, named "The Soap Opera and Its Audience" provided me with the results of a study made in the 1990s upon a famous blog called r.a.t.s. (the initials of rec.arts.tv.soaps). The researcher was observing and recording the sex, age and career of the blog's participants who were commenting upon and discussing the soap operas that were aired at that time. The researcher finally came up with a good deal of diversity. "A quick look at the demographics of r.a.t.s, shows that its participants disproportionately represent the high end of the American socioeconomic spectrum but that there is a wide variety of careers represented." The blog participants varied among computer professionals like software programmers, graphic designers, consultants, testers, managers, trainers as well as other specialties. "Students from both undergraduate and graduate, form the next largest contingent. Noncomputing professionals include scientists (working for both private and governmental laboratories), librarians, secretaries, nurses, high school teachers, and public relations and marketing professionals." "Although participants describe the group as being 'worldwide', the overwhelming majority of participants", live in United States. "Nearly a third of them live in California, which is not surprising given the presence of so many computer-oriented businesses online in that state. The others span 21 states, and 1 lives in Canada. People have posted from Belgium, Germany, England, and New Zealand, but those who do not live in North America, particularly in the United States, are in a minuscule minority." "As one would expect, r.a.t.s participants are primarily women. Judging from the names in the headers of one month's worth of r.a.t.s posts, of the 492 people who contributed, 60% had female names, 20% had male names, and another 20% had addresses that left their gender ambiguous. If one assumes a proportionate split among the ambiguous population, then r.a.t.s is approximately 72% female and 28% male".

Despite of the demographics, another researcher conducted research upon the same blog in order to identify the psychographics of the participants and discover what the audience expectations and needs are from a serial. He finally concluded that "for a serial to be successful, it must tell a compelling story concerned with interesting and believable characters. Characters with whom the audience can personally identify or emotionally empathize. The ingredients are the same as those required for any good dramatic fare but one basic difference: that the continuing form allows a fuller development of characterization while permitting the audience to become more and more involved with the story and its people." The author also quotes what Jean Rouverol, a soap writer said: "Whatever else a show may offer, it must contain people we love, people whose joys and tribulations we can share. It must also provide us with people we love to hate, people who offer a continuous threat to the welfare or happiness of those we are fond of. And although the need of success is always a given, there can be no real suspense if we don't care about the people we're watching. Above all we need to care."

Serial Monogamy: Soap Opera, Lifespan and the Gendered Politics of Fantasy

By Christine Scodari

Having read the above quote of Jean Rouverol I wanted to examine more about the characters of soap opera content. Going through this book, I reached a section which does explore the archetypal moral fibers, couples, and stories that inhabit soap opera's favorite universe, the gendered theme in the soap opera manuscript, and the genre's utilization of age and time. This chapter examines the formulae of typical storylines like the super couple and passionate triangle and fine but substantial differences amongst soaps in this regard. The stars in soap opera's prevailing familial and romantic constellations are logged so that ideological implications of gender and lifespan representations, and the economic imperatives that motivate them, can be better appreciated. The book recognizes the "mechanisms by which young adults typically debut as characters on soaps". "These appealing young 'hunks' and 'babes', as they are referred to by fans and creators alike, are carefully selected and molded to be magnets for the sought-after audience-young females. The interpellative pull of characters and text is crafted so that young female viewers identify with the nubile young woman in desiring and, especially, in being desired by the virile young male." As it turns out, in the ritual of the romance novel, these vigorous ingénues are often predestined to "tame bad boy hunks" who are, despite their sarcasm and rough edges, bighearted. One fan described the prototype as "the guy in the leather jacket and motorcycle who storms in on a cloud of grit and testosterone that obscures his heart of gold."

Of course apart from the representation of young people within soap operas, other archetypes exist that seem to attract other audience segments except teens and young adults. In soap terms they are describe as 'divas', 'harridans', 'vixens', 'cougars' etc.

Except of the super couple within which 'babes' and 'hunks' are found and young adults identify with, other patterns exist that seem to satisfy the audience's perception of the ideal world. The older woman-younger man relationship often found in soap storylines provides women in the menopause stage with the comforting idea that they are still desirable. Reversely the older man-younger woman pattern gives older men who gradually see their virility declining the powerful image of them with a younger and attractive female who ideally got attracted by their experience and wisdom.

Soap Fans: Pursuing Pleasure and Making Meaning in Everyday Life

By C. Lee Harrington & Denise D. Bielby

The particular book investigates the "Femaleness" of soap operas and the very reasons that "soap operas have long been considered part of 'women's fiction', which includes romance novels and melodramatic films". The author identifies certain principles of daytime TV that can be distinguished as female and particularly resonate with the experiences of female audience. The first is the focus on networks of relationships that is reaction and interaction to the occurring events, rather than the events themselves. "In soap operas, the important thing is that there always be time for a person to consider a remark's ramifications, time for people to speak and to listen lavishly. The author identifies this as a feminine element based on research on women's psychological and moral development that states that "by adulthood, women are more likely than men to define themselves in terms of attachments and connections to others. Women tend to perceive themselves" unlikely men "as embedded in a network of relationships." For women intimacy goes along with identity and they get to know themselves as there are known through their interaction and relationships with others and daytime serials "celebrate relationships and affiliations, the 'realistic' terms of many women's lives." The emphasis on verbal interaction in soap operas is the second convention the author identifies. "The action or events on serials 'are not important in themselves; they merely serve as occasions for characters to get together and have prolonged, involved, intensely emotional discussions with each other'". Of course such moments have a tendency to appeal predominantly to female audience since women, unlikely men, tend to stress verbal self-disclosure in their own interpersonal dealings. "Another gendered aspect of soaps is the preference for close-up camera shots." This particular technique initiates the viewer to give attention, to really be troubled about, the wellbeing of the characters. "Women are presumed to be natural caregivers with an intuitive ability to read people emotionally. Extended close-ups affirm these assumptions by allowing viewers not only to experience emotions along with characters but also to imagine and speculate on the source of those emotions." The "fragmentation of storytelling" has been clearly associated to women's household work and also contributes to the categorization of soap operas as female narratives. "A viewer who is simultaneously working and watching television does not need to worry about missing information if he/she is distracted by children, a timer, or a phone call because the information is sure to be repeated." 'The formal structure of the soap opera is thus closely linked to the rhythms of women's domestic labor." The fifth gendered element of soaps operas is the spotlight on the personal or "interior world" rather than the communal or exterior one. "While most daytime characters, both male and female, have glamorous and respected careers", "they are rarely seen actually working." "Rather, the work setting is transformed into a private arena in which to confront and explore private issues." In spite of women's growing involvement in the paid work force since the 1960s , they are still held liable for the private sphere, thus the focus on the family arena in daytime series and the transformation of open sceneries into private ones effectively corresponds to women's lived past knowledge and resonates strongly with the feminine audience.

Academic Journals

Romancing the Globe: A Glimpse of the World's Best Selling Telenovelas

By Ibsen Martinez

This article examines how Latin American soap operas have accomplished almost international fame. It is implied that the television series have grown to be popular in countries like Poland, Russia and Indonesia through the implementation of plotlines that maintain the poor, unfortunate and underprivileged attached to their sets. The columnist analyses how 2 billion viewers worldwide track the soap operas, widely branded as telenovelas. According to Martinez, soap opera plots that rely on the fortune reversals reverberate in societies accustomed to monetary insecurity.

After having examined the relation between soap opera form and content with the audience's needs and expectations I thought of narrowing down my research to the Greek audience in particular in order to identify similarities or differences comparing to what I had found out so far. Since Latin-American soap operas seem to hold the second position in the Greek audience's favorite shows (in terms of ratings) -with the first position being held by the Turkish soap operas, I assumed that investigating the content of such series would help me understand more about what Greeks want and what attracts them in a TV show. Telenovelas appear to share key elements with their other cousins. Romance and scheming are, of course, always present. "'There is always a Cinderella in a novela,' says Helena Bernardi, director of marketing and sales for Brazil's Globo TV. Colombian telenovela creator Patricio Wills describes the genre as "a couple that wants to have a kiss and a writer who doesn't allow them to for 200 episodes." The physical charm of telenovela cast and the balmy scenes where the filming takes place have an amazing effect on the audiences' aesthetic pleasure. Melodrama though seem to be the most "addictive" characteristic of Latin-American soap operas since regardless the struggles, conflicts and seemingly unsolved problems towards the super couple's happiness, the audience is already reassured that the two "forbidden lovers" deserve to be together and eventually will be no matter what.

Newspaper Articles

How the Greeks "Fell" Into Turkish Series

By Nikos G. Xydakis, columnist at Kathimerini

In an effort to explain the recent Turkish-mania that has overwhelmed the majority of Greeks, Mr. Xydakis provided me with a rather rough-edged justification through his subjective interpretations of the Turkish soap opera viewers. It was nevertheless worth examining it, in the research towards the real causes. He says that the working classes, those "fed" with TV programs in their seek for entertainment; recognize in the "coarse" typologies of the Turkish series something from their old social self and the old certainties. According to him, Turkish TV series, with the form of the popular romance and the old tested recipe of soap operas schematically portray a world both real and imaginary, distant and near, east-Asian and western-European, a rather limbic world. The Greek public sees themselves just at this turning point, within the passage. Seeing this formally, it is about regression and the Greek public is indeed stepping back identically with the authoritarian and male-dominated Turkish society where domestic and family pride and honor are fighting against brute power and fierce emotions. He supports that the advances Greek public, situated socially, historically and culturally at a higher level, is fascinated by the Turks' "retarded ethnography".

Turkish series characters are presented rough, with clear contours, dramatically good or bad, men are men and women are women. The male wear dark suits and white shirts. Most elderly women omen wear headscarves or kerchiefs and the younger are presented as Western-style beauties, playing the role of a spouse, lover, mother, daughter or sister in a male-dominated world. The family is the strongest social (and dramatic) element while the state stands in the background, strict and covertly authoritarian. People clash between impulses and morality, between clan and state and between feudalism and modernity. Both men and women are dressed conservatively, strictly with conformity; however the European pattern with BMW and Mercedes cars and extremely wealthy and luxurious houses is the current version of the Turk-baroque style.

Mr. Xydakis sees the major reason for the popularity of Turkish series as lying in the psychosocial folding of the working classes before the unsuccessful modernization. The rough, solid structures of Turkish families, strong-minded men overflow with masculinity, the feminine and attractive women who are wives and mothers and they don't appear as "slutty" or dominatrix, the protected and sure money of the closed family, the well-established codes of honor, all these urban things and morals that seem intimate and familiar in front of an audience's thirsty eyes; an audience that has lost its old weights and measures. The Green public thirstily observes an old world, "eastern" slow and rough, the world it let go.

Websites

www.anixneuseis.gr

Why did Turkish Series Win the Greeks Over?

By Administrator

Source: Reuters

The author of this article provided me with people's opinions on the latest Turkish trend, using various sources. He examined both famous Greek blogs and the most popular social media in Greece and recorder the answers and discussion of participants about Turkish series. It all started with the initiative of the Greek channels to buy Turkish productions that in the end turned up to be economic "packages" that to some extend offer a relief to the crisis that has hit Greek television. A famous Greek blogger stated that "panoramic shots of Istanbul neighborhoods, which once housed large Greek communities, awakened a nostalgic sense to the Greeks who referred to it as the "City."

"I recall a different era, Greece '60s, when humans were dominated by life and not materialism," said a 65-years-old woman. "I watch them so I don't get disappointed." she added."I realized that the hatred is predetermined," says a 21-year old law student. "We don't see the evil enemy, but the real Turk who falls in love, gets hurt, as we do," she adds. "I have been surprised," said Ashley Tountz, media professor at Bilgi University in Istanbul. "The Greeks need a new kind of entertainment to forget their problems and these serials seem to respond to their needs for the moment," said the professor. "The series "Ezel"and other serials describe a lost part of Greek society that was buried in recent years," writer Nikos Chiladakis he says in his article to the success of this police drama."I woke up today in a lost Greek identity," he added.

In a way, the serials are "exporting" the Turkish culture, even "in an uncertain market, such as Greece", said Pinto of Global Agency. "The Greeks feel closer with Turkey now than before," he said to Reuters.

There are of course other people whose opinions differ a lot from the fans of Turkish serials and they seem to be the creators of many social media and blog pages. They oppose to the Turkish production's importation in Greece supporting that Greek channels' owners seem to have forgotten what Greece went through during the Ottoman invasion. "Some things cannot be forgotten, cannot be deleted from the Greek history," is only a sample written in one of the pages.

Methodology

Questionnaire

Initially, the first research method that seemed suitable for my topic was questionnaires, so I thought of proposing it as one of the two hypothetical methods. Turkish soap operas have gained the attention and respect of a significant percentage of the Greek TV audience and the number of viewers is continuously increasing as new productions are purchased and presented by the Greek channels. If carefully planned and prepared a questionnaire would be a good way to examine the very reasons of this success. By capturing the participants' attitude towards the Turkish series and trying to identify what each one of them finds attractive and worth watching in this type of productions I think I could come up with multiple subjective explanations and interpretations that would help me get closer to the answers I seek.

The methodology under which a survey research is structured and conducted has several advantages as well as disadvantages. The cost of conducting a survey is considerably low and the process is effortless if we compare it with other research methods and in relation to the notable sum of information we can gather. Additionally, survey research does not need any geographical restraints or particularly scarce equipment except of paper, pens and the actual participants. Moreover, the amount of preexisting, obtainable data facilitates the development and the conduction of the questionnaire.

Opposing the advantages of the survey methodology, a questionnaire might have certain limitations. First of all the control over the independent variable is very difficult and sometimes even not feasible. Secondly, the researcher may not use the proper formation in developing the questionnaire, the content of the questions may not be the correct one, or even the formulation of the questions is confusingly done.

Closing the questionnaire discussion, I would like to add as a disadvantage, the possibility of the respondents providing the researcher with fake data or untruth answers. This is a major weakness of the survey method since it would certainly shape negatively the research's findings.

This is the questionnaire that I would give to the participants of my research upon the Turkish soap operas appeal to the Greek audience. The purpose of the questionnaire as the first research method was rather to identify the heavy viewers of Turkish soap operas. It is mostly to examine whether the participants would be proven valuable for the other two upcoming methods and at what percent they represent the Greek audience.

Questionnaire

Please choose the answer that corresponds to your viewpoints. If it applies, you can choose more than one options.

Please indicate your sex.

Male

Female

Please indicate the age group that you belong.

18-25

26-35

36-45

45+

Are you currently watching any Turkish serial?

Yes

No

If yes, which one is it?

Love and Punishment

Temptation

Other

Do you watch it every day or occasionally?

Daily

Occasionally

Do you find the time the serial is aired convenient for you or you sometimes unavoidably miss it?

Convenient

I miss it sometimes

I postpone or cancel things to watch it

What do you like the most of these series?

Plot

Characters

Actors/Actresses

Direction

Music

Locations/ Places

Fashion (clothes, shoes, accessories, jewelry etc.)

General aspects of the life in Turkey

Are you aware of WebTV service that is available on some channels' websites?

Yes

No

If yes, have you made any use of it?

Yes

No

If yes, do you use it to track episodes you missed or to watch some old Turkish serial that has been completed?

Missed episodes

Old serial

Both

If you are watching an old serial, can you please write down the title/s?

Do you buy magazines that provide the upcoming episodes' plots, discussions and analyses of the serials or actors/actresses' interviews?

Yes

No

Sometimes

Do you access online blogs for the same reasons?

Yes

No

Sometimes

Do you usually watch the episodes alone or with company?

Alone

With family

Friends

Peers

Romantic partner

Spouse

Colleagues

Do you discuss the plot, characters or any other aspect of the Turkish serial with others?

Yes

No

Sometimes

With whom do you usually discuss it?

Family

Friends

Peers

Romantic partner

Spouse

Colleagues

What do you usually talk about?

Plot

Characters

Actors/Actresses

Direction

Music

Locations/ Places

Fashion (clothes, shoes, accessories, jewelry etc.)

General aspects of the life in Turkey

Do you think that the life in Turkey is the same as portrayed in the series?

Yes

No

If no, can you briefly elaborate which do you think that these differences are?

Do you think that Greek culture has any similarities with the Turkish culture based on what you see in the series?

Yes

No

If yes, can you briefly elaborate what these similarities are?

Would you say that you are looking forward for more Turkish productions?

Yes

No

Neutral

Thank you for your time and contribution to our study!

Focus Groups

The second research method that I decided to test hypothetically was focus groups.

There are numerous advantages and disadvantages concerning this method of information gathering that are listed and explained at the following discussion. The compilation of opening data is usually useful and supportive when it comes to investigating this method. In my case though, it may not be considered sufficient as I will have to go deeper into participants' thoughts and attitudes and to further analyze their morals, needs, expectations and interpretations in order to come up with evident results to the inquiry of the Turkish soap opera appeal to the Greek audience. Moreover, in order to get into the participants' feelings and motivations requires more personal contact and intimacy, which is unlikely to be achieved among the researcher and the numerous participants. Nevertheless, question planning appears to be more elastic which gives the conversation a great advantage as the discussion flows spontaneously, straight forwarded and unpretending. In addition, in case of a misinterpretation occurrence during the process, adjustments can be easily done. Likewise, if either the moderator or any of the participants misunderstands something, it can be easily explained and corrected which decreases a lot the possibility of a quarrel. As I mentioned earlier the discussion flows in a direct way which ideally means that the outcomes of such an interaction may be a lot more inclusive and satisfying since the spontaneous questions and answers work as a stimulus for the brain to function better and revive old and forgotten ideas or even come up with new ones.

The presence of the researcher within the room or place that the process takes place may have a bad influence on the participants' reactions and even shift their responds in some way. It would be hard for the respondents not to consider the moderator's judgment and estimations fundamental. Focus groups generally represent a qualitative method of gathering information. In this particular case, which is investigating the appeal of Turkish soap operas to the Greek viewers, quantification is crucial for the research's purposes. A common focus group method though, consists of 4-6 focus groups with a limited number of participants in each one of them, therefore such a sample would be ineffective in representing thousands of points of view, in this case almost half the Greek population.

Last but not least is the researcher's approach and behavior towards the participants of the focus group. More specifically if the researcher was not totally objective or polite enough and could not hold his personal judgments or feedback out of the room, the respondents would certainly be affected by his manners and the research would not finally conclude with the desirable outcomes.

The procedure

If I really were about to pilot focus groups for my research upon the Turkish soap opera appeal on the Greek audience I would have to follow several methodological steps of preparing and conducting focus groups. 1) I would have to define the exact topic of my forthcoming research, 2) I would have to choose the most fitting samples based on my topic, 3) I would determine the number of the groups necessary, 4) I would prepare the required mechanics (a room to conduct the research, a video wall and other necessary equipment), 5) I would arrange the essential materials for the research, like the videos to be shown, a recording machine, and the question that I want answered. 6) I would actually conduct the research when the actual process takes place, and finally 7) I would have to go through, interpret and record the findings, and afterwards carry out a summing up report.

Material

The material that I would present to the focus groups would be a video containing representative extracts from each of various Turkish series that have been played in Greece. For example "Ezel" was a Turkish soap opera aired in Greece during 2011, which was very different from any other Turkish series since it contained explicit violence, guns and drugs use and sexual implications. I would choose to show a rather usual action scene after a brief explanation or those that were unaware of this serial. I would definitely show each of the series TV commercial spot in order to record what each of them found interesting and attractive. From other series I would also choose to show representative parts after explaining the plot of each soap opera. I would select scenes that are common between Turkish series and probably the ones that have been rated as the best in famous blogs and Youtube videos. For example, a resolution scene when the two protagonists finally get together after conflicts and disagreements, a scene that portrays luxurious lifestyle with wealthy mansions and expensive cars, a scene with the usual female characters and their clothing choices and finally a traditional scene where all characters are sitting and eating together that portrays their high appreciation of family bonding, and of course good cuisine. In addition I would play some parts where we can hear words and expressions widely use in Greece and another video sample where a discussion about morals and values takes place.

The Groups

Initially I thought of categorizing the participants according their gender in order to understand what aspects portrayed in Turkish soap operas attract both of them and where they differentiate. Alternatively, I thought of grouping them according to their age, for example having 3 focus groups, 18-30 yrs old, 30-40, and 40+. Another idea was classifying them based on their exposure to Turkish productions and then dividing them into 2 focus groups, heavy viewers and light viewers.

At the beginning I would start a conversation asking them vaguely about the topic, so to make them feel more comfortable and in order to have a discussion that would flow naturally with spontaneous reactions.

The Questions

Some questions that I would ask in order to make the conversation flow are presented here:

Which of these soap operas have you seen?

Why these? What is that draw your attention? What made them seem interesting when you saw the commercial?

Most of them are about love stories. Do you consider them plausible or exaggerating?

Do you find similarities or differences with Greek soap opera productions?

Considering that Turkey is historically your enemy, does the language, the culture and the diversity of morals bother you or "intrigue" you?

Does the view of Turkish soap operas prompt you to face the Turk as a generally benevolent neighbor? Have such productions shaped in any way your perception about Turks?

Based in what you see, could you live in a society as those portrayed?

Do you recognize any elements of the Turkish society within the Greek community that have been probably passed to us through the 4 centuries of the Turkish occupation?

Pilot Study

Intensive Interviews

The case of the Turkish series appeal to the Greek audience is an issue that has received a lot of attention since 8 years ago when the first Turkish soap opera was aired in a Greek channel. By many it is considered as having many dimensions, some of them being social, political or even educational. In order to explore the very reasons of the tremendous success of Turkish soap operas, I decided to use Intensive Interviews as the most suitable method for my pilot study. Of course the method's advantages and disadvantages are to be taken into consideration in order for it to be as effective as possible. First of all I was already aware that no matter who I contact or how many people I ask to answer my questions, they would never be enough or adequate to represent all the viewers of Turkish soap operas. Therefore I was convinced that I needed a qualitative method so as to get the more sufficient results possible out of my study. Besides, intensive interviews include a variety of advantages in comparison to other research methods. Primarily, intensive interviews are also called in depth interviews and since I was about to examine an issue that has been proven to be controversial and multidimensional I knew that I had to deepen in the participants' personal viewpoints, experiences, values, motivations and feelings about the issue in question. The personal contact and intimacy that most of the times are developed between the interviewer and the interviewee create unique circumstances for the participant to open up. Ideally this would lead to a great deal of information obtained concerning my topic. Furthermore, another advantage of this personal contact is that despite all the recorded responses of the participants, there are the nonverbal ones that may highly contribute to the overall outcome. Body language, voice tonality, gestures and grimaces would provide the interviewer with a great deal of information concerning emotions. I.e. how the interviewee felt when asked a particular question. Moreover, intensive interviews are usually customized to the individual respondents. While the researcher has planned to ask the same questions to each one of the participants, the flow of the conversation allows the interviewer to adapt and form the questions according to each participant.

Nevertheless, as a researcher I must take into consideration several drawbacks that the method of intensive interviews contain in order to bear in mind what it needs to be avoided while going through the actual process. Generalizability is one of them and it has to do with the fact that sometimes the sampling is usually non random which may lead to a different version of a question asked. The interviewee may even answer to a question never asked to the rest of the respondents. Nevertheless the issue of soap opera popularity is expected to have different points of view and various personalized opinions. Secondly, interviewer biases are another restraint to this method. As mentioned earlier, the personal contact that develops between the interviewer and the interviewee may end up in a dialogue. In that case except of the respondent sharing opinions and viewpoints, the interviewer may end up doing the same. If what the interviewer says goes against the values, attitudes or beliefs of the interviewee or if the interviewer in any way offends him, surely the outcome of the actual interview will not be the desirable one since it may affect the answers of the respondent. Considering this risk, the researcher must be extra careful not to be subjective and not to share too much information in order to control the flow of discussion and eliminate the possibility. Closing, another limitation that may occur is the participant getting tired or bored. The whole process may be too long and tire the participants who during the last minutes may simply giving answers without thinking too much just to get over with it. Surely in this, the information would be altered from the ones that the researcher would have taken otherwise. Thus it is essential for the researcher to keep the process as short as possible so to avoid a tired participant who is not really giving the conversation the proper attention.

In piloting the intensive interviews method I will try to take advantage of all of its uses and in addition to reverse the restraints and if possible turn them into beneficial strengths so to come up with the most effective and useful results for my research.

The Actual Interview

After shaking hands with each participant and politely welcoming them in order to make them feel comfortable, the questions I prepared for the intensive interviews go as such:

Since you are familiar with Turkish soap operas can you tell me which of them have you watched?

In the end, did you like all of them the same or do you have a preferred serial that you really enjoyed?

What is it that you liked so much?

Could you say that you have in any way identified with any of the characters of Turkish soap operas?

You remember that almost a decade back, Latin-American soap operas were all over the Greek channels. It was the time's trend. Did you watch any of them?

Do you find any differences or similarities with Turkish series?

Would you say that you see any similarities of the Turkish culture with Greece?

Some say that they can't watch Turkish series because of the language; they even find it barbaric and rough for the ears. What do you think?

What about the actors or actresses? Most of them are Turkish models. In general would you say that they are good in their roles? Can they express the feelings of the characters?

Do you know others who watch Turkish TV series? Do you discuss the episodes with them?

Overall, would you say that Turkish series follow the recipe of classic soap operas or not? Plotwise I mean.

Finale

Findings Analysis

According to the findings of the intensive interviews the answer that I was so eagerly looking for has finally come to the light. My research's topic was the reasons of the Turkish soap operas appeal to the Greek audiences. After carefully going through each participant's responses, I have concluded to the following. It seems that the main reason of the Turkish series success among Greek viewers lies to the similarities of the two cultures. The Turkish occupation lasted almost 4 centuries and the Greek culture has unavoidably been influenced by Turkish habits and lifestyle. Some words and expressions we use in everyday life, cuisine and family values are undoubtedly remaining of the cohabitation of the two cultures within the same territory. Moreover, population exchange had definitely caused many inhabitants of Asia Minor to abandon their houses and come to live in Greece. I believe that many of those people watch Turkish series only for a chance to see these locations and places again or simply because they are so familiar and bring back many pleasant memories.

Furthermore, all of the participants seem to be fascinated by the plot of these series, recognizing that they are different from all series they have seen before. They believe that although Turkish soap operas follow the old and tested soap opera recipe they have taken a step further into incorporating unique and unprecedented elements in their productions almost forming a new genre. Despite of the fact the most of the cast of such production comes from modeling agencies across Turkey, their performance and acting skills seem to be satisfactory for the viewers. The beautiful cast along with the carefully chosen sceneries shapes an aesthetically pleasurable and amusing outcome that pleases the audience. Likewise, the respondents seem to pay attention to and appreciate the extraordinary work that is being done behind the cameras. They have expressed their admiration for the direction and musical accompaniment of Turkish series that contribute to the enjoyable effect.

Furthermore, when the participants were asked about Latin-American soap operas, I then first started to distinguish the main differences and began to realize the audience's appreciation. They found the Latin-American productions rather childish and juvenile saying that the dubbing only made them sound silly. In Turkish soap operas we listen to the voices of the cast with the assistance of Greek subtitles, instead of putting Greek people to talk instead. In the beginning, the language may seemed rough and weird, especially because we are used to European hearings, but in the end it appears that only this way we are able to capture each moment's emotion and to appreciate the character's sentiment and psychological state.

Closing, what highly contributes to the overall success is that every Turkish production follows a different storyline, avoiding the rich guy-poor girl clichés and this way appealing to different segments of the Greek population. Although Greeks look like appreciating loves and hatreds, passions, intriguing scandals and conflicts, they have highly valued the fact that in either of the Turkish soap operas a bad guy exists. As Nefeli remarkably said "in Turkish series good and evil lies within the characters themselves and it is shaped according to their dilemmas, passions, relationships and interactions".

Finally the absence of happy ending in all of the Turkish series with one or two exceptions, significantly add to the overall sensation. Surely in the cases presented in the series, with such conflicts and divergences, there can be no happily-ever-after, exactly like it happens in real life.

Conclusion

The appeal of Turkish soap operas in the Greek audiences comprised a brilliant initiative for my first contact with actual research. Throughout my study I tried to unite both previous researches done upon the general soap opera genre and the findings of my survey in order to examine what differentiates them from Turkish productions and makes them so appealing to Greek viewers. Although tiring, the research process was proved challenging but in the same time exciting and motivating, and the findings very interesting. At the beginning of my study I was convinced that I had chosen the right topic for me since I have been very much concerned about media audiences and distinctively TV viewers. The fact that I have been a Turkish soap opera viewer myself was also the major factor that contributed to my decision to proceed with the specific topic.

In addition I consider the overall experience highly educational since I learned how to prepare both a review of existing literature upon a subject and the way to conduct actual research using various different methods. I consider the experience worth having as I realized the duties of a professional researcher. I am glad and grateful that I had the opportunity to experiment with this process from such an early stage since it may prove to be extremely valuable in a potential professional career.

Appendices

Interviewees

Nefeli, 26, practitioner in a law firm

Konstantinos, 42, graphic designer

Maria, 59, pensioner

Vana, 22, communications student

The Actual Interview

Since you are familiar with Turkish soap operas can you tell me which of them have you watched?

Nefeli: I started watching Thousand and One Nights in 2009, then Kismet, Gumus and Ezel. Now I'm watching Temptation.

Konstantinos: My wife was watching them, and when I had nothing better to do I was watching too, till I started to like them. I have watched Thousand and One Nights, Kismet, Gumus, Love and Punishment, Temptation and of course Ezel.

Maria: All of them actually, and when there were time conflicts I used WebTV.

Vana: I watched a little from Thousand and One Nights, Kismet and Temptation.

Did you like all of them the same or do you have a preferred serial that you really enjoyed?

Nefeli: To be honest I liked all of them, but Kismet really blew me away. It's the only time I cried for a serial.

Konstantinos: I enjoyed Ezel a lot! And Love and Punishment is fine.

Maria: I liked all of them but I liked Temptation more.

Vana: Thousand and One Nights definitely. And then Kismet.

What is it that you liked so much?

Nefeli: I think that it's the music that creates this dramatic atmosphere, and the voice of the singer makes you think that he is really in pain. He is the same who writes the music for Temptation, and again he creates this dramatic effect. Apart from that, Kismet followed the traditional soap opera recipe but in a more intense way. It was an amazing love story. I felt sorry for the girl, I felt sorry for them that they couldn't be together and it was like the director was torturing me across 80 episodes!

Konstantinos: I like adventures and these two were the ones that had gun use and little violence, running from the law etc. Apart from that, Ezel's story was really amazing and nowhere near classic soap opera. His changed his face with plastic surgery and returned to take revenge from those who got him into prison. It was brilliant! Plus, I enjoy watching Constantinople and the beautiful places there. I am interested in history and the fact that Greeks lived there once moves me.

Maria: It's the scandal I think. She is married to an older man and when she goes to live with him his nephew visits and they fall in love immediately. And they live under the same roof, it is very intense. Every minute you think that everyone is going to find out about them. Secret looks and meetings at night. It reminded me of my youth, my father was strict and I wasn't allowed to do much.

Vana: Love stories. In our time, men are not like this. They want many girls, they like partying, they are not gentlemen anymore and most of them cannot be trusted. I like watching men in the series, they are like they come from a different era.

Could you say that you have in any way identified with any of the characters of Turkish soap operas?

Nefeli: Definitely I'd say Kismet. I have been in the girl's position, admiring a man so much but he was unreachable. He wanted her too but he was older, wealthier, famous… Her feelings were so like mine and the fact that there could be no resolution to the story was realistic. There was no happy end in the story exactly like there can be no happy end in real life. Not always at least.

Konstantinos: Come on this is women's question. Okay maybe I identified with Ezel, but only a little bit. I agreed with him in his values and morals and I wish I had his strength and power of will. Don't tell anyone though!

Maria: Yes, I'd say Bihter from Temptation. Because she couldn't enjoy her love because everything was against them. Like me and my husband before we get married. My father didn't approve.

Vana: Identify? No… I wouldn't say that, I just wish I could, you know, love and be loved in such an intense way. As I told you things are different nowadays, especially in Greece.

You remember that almost a decade back, Latin-American soap operas were all over the Greek channels. It was the time's trend. Did you watch any of them?

Nefeli: Oh yes, how can I forget them? I was going through puberty and I remember watching them with my girlfriends and next day at school exchanging notes about what happened. I can say that I have watched all of them.

Konstantinos: No, not really. They seemed rather stupid to me.

Maria: Yes I remember but I didn't watch any of them. I knew what they were about though because my kids watched all of them.

Vana: I was very young when they started and I watched only two, when I was 14 I think.

Do you find any differences or similarities with Turkish series?

Nefeli: No way. Turkish series are not for children. If you have seen Ezel you know what I mean. These are real-life stories, with passions and hatreds that don't end up well. And there are no silly plots, like someone exchanging children at birth and when the children grow up fall in love. This is fiction. Turkish series go a lot further that the traditional, rich guy- poor girl cliché. Plus in the Turkish series, there is no such thing as a "bad guy". No one is evil and no one is trying to ruin the lives of the protagonists just because he has nothing better to do with his money. In Turkish series good and evil lies within the characters themselves and it is shaped according to their dilemmas, passions, relationships and interactions.

Vana: I think I can't even compare them. The range of emotions in Turkish series is much bigger and far more realistic. Latin-American soap operas were silly love stories for children and teens. Just a reason to collect stickers. Not to mention the language dubbing, it was very annoying.

Would you say that you see any similarities of the Turkish culture with Greece?

Nefeli: Definitely! Absolutely. In every episode you hear at least 2 or 3 expressions that we say in everyday life. They have a high appreciation of good cuisine and family is very important to them. And I don't know what I would find if a go deeper in Turkey, but as far as we stay in the shores, we are very much alike. From the way they dress to the way they eat, even the gossiping is the same.

Konstantinos: Well I have origins from Constantinople and my grandmother has told me a lot about how life was there. I believe yes, we have many similarities and the viewer can immediately tell from when the family sits in the table to eat. Not to mention similar words we use. We were occupied by Turks for 400 years, it is impossible not to have similarities. I know for sure that many former inhabitants watch the series just to take a glimpse of the landscape.

Maria: Many. They respect god, family and food. It's the same as here. I don't know whether what it is presented is true but they seem to follow this Western European lifestyle like we do, mixed with tradition. Try this, if you press "mute" on the remote, you won't tell if it's Greeks you see of Turks. We are basically similar.

Vana: I believe we are the same. We have the same face and bodily features; we are Mediterranean cultures, both of us. The structure of things is the same. Families, friendships and human relationships are very much alike.

Some say that they can't watch Turkish series because of the language; they even find it barbaric and rough for the ears. What do you think?

Nefeli: And what do they want, to put Greeks talking instead? I believe the listening of the language contributes a lot to the overall outcome. I can't judge whether it is a pleasant language or not, for someone Greek may sound awful, all I'm saying is that you get the tone of the voices, the intensity, and the emotions. Comparing to the Latin-American soap operas it's brilliant, because all the dubbing sounded silly, the voices were goofy and you could not understand the real emotion of the moment.

Konstantinos: At the beginning it sounded a bit rough yes, when they were fighting or disagreeing. Especially because I understand some Turkish expressions from my grandmother, but then I got used to it; it's not bothering me at all.

Maria: I'm from Crete and the local dialect there mostly derives from Turkish language. It sounds very familiar and not annoying at all. We have the same expressions and many similar words.

Vana: When I first started watching them, it sounded weird but I think that is mostly because we are used to hearing English, French and other European languages. It was something completely new but now I don't even think about it.

What about the actors or actresses? Most of them are Turkish models. In general would you say that they are good in their roles? Can they express the feelings of the characters?

Nefeli: I'm glad you mentioned that. All of them are sight for sore eyes! I know many people who watch Turkish series only for the actors or actresses, or this is how they began. I don't think they are bad; some of them are pretty good I think. Nothing annoying I would say. But these guys are really handsome and the girls outstanding. I believe that many girls watch them because this is how they would like Greek men to be. Tall, handsome, classic and protective.

Konstantinos: Are you kidding me? No one pays attention to their acting skills; the men are very handsome, even my girlfriend tells me to do my hair like one of the protagonists. And the women are mesmerizing. Brunette but with light color eyes. Beautiful. But the guy who played Ezel was truly good. Very good acting.

Maria: Most of them can. They are good and the music helps a lot, They are only a few who are not that good, but it doesn't seem bothersome because usua

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