The vicious circle of comparison: creative labor and occidentalism in documentary filmmaking in Turkey
Şen, Ayşe Irmak (2017) The vicious circle of comparison: creative labor and occidentalism in documentary filmmaking in Turkey. [Thesis]
In order to provide critique of a creative cultural work, besides focusing on political and economic organization of a cultural industry or the content of its end products, some scholars highlighted the importance of focusing on subjective experiences of workers. They argue experiences of the workers must be more in the foreground due to some of characteristics of the work that makes it more complex than other types of work, such as its impacts on the self-esteem of workers or the ambivalent criteria for deciding on the quality of end products of cultural industries. By embracing these perspectives in the literature, with the help of discourses in the empirical data gathered by interviewing with 17 documentary filmmakers, this thesis analyzes subjective experiences of the documentary filmmakers producing in Turkey and accordingly, documentary filmmaking sector of the country. This thesis argues that the focus of discourses is on the insufficiency of the quantity and quality of documentaries produced in Turkey. However, the literature about documentary filmmaking in Turkey and official accounts address the non-negligible number of documentaries being produced annually in Turkey and they highlight the satisfaction of the audiences and critics on the quality of documentaries. These accounts rather address other kinds of problems such as the visibility and distribution of the documentaries. This thesis argues that the framework of Occidentalism could be useful to discuss the impacts of these discourses and reason of the difference between two tendencies: Discourses that are focusing on the quality and quantity of the documentaries, mostly by emphasizing either being a country that has a strong tradition of cultural production (like 'Western countries') or not, can trap the discussion about the genre. As a result, they can be paving the way of de-emphasizing other kinds of urgent problems of the sector in the country, such as the visibility and distribution of the documentaries.
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