Americans are often accused of being Puritanical. We have weird laws about alcohol and sex, we like to heavily tax or over-regulate things we think of as "sins," and bad words are bleeped off network TV. Of course, all countries have their weird laws and regulations and taxes on various sins and vices, but there's something more pervasive about puritanism in America than there seems to be in, say, Britain. One small example I can think of offhand is that British women can get away with showing a lot more cleavage than American women can. I'm sure there are other, more important examples.
As you would expect, Turkey has its whole Puritan thing going on too. But it's quite different than the way I'm used to, and sometimes it's surprising and contradictory. For example, gambling is forbidden but there are state-run whorehouses. Pornography is strictly illegal, and like gambling, it's one of their many excuses for blocking websites. Newspapers always sport a scantily-clad woman on the front and back pages and several months back, Radikal newspaper (which isn't really all that radical) had a fully nude, tits-and-bush photo of Madonna from one of her teenaged photo shoots on the front page. Even LE had the good sense to like that. It gentled him out of a "I don't want to get in the car" tantrum because he still really likes boobs. But the newspaper thing is weird when I think that I once got yelled at by some covered girls at my old job for changing my gym clothes in the women's locker room instead of waiting my turn to go into a private cabin. Or when I think that my MIL gets mad at me for wearing tank tops in front of FIL.
Until recently, swearing was allowed on Turkish TV. Not the *really* bad words, but worse words than Americans are allowed to use. American regulation of swearing is funny actually. When I was a kid, you couldn't even say "butt" on TV. I think now you can "shit," "ass," and "bitch." Also "asshole" and maybe "dick," but only in reference to people. And only after certain times a day, like you can't say "ass" until after 6pm and no "bitch" until after 9. Of course, anything goes on cable. But it's still weird. And in the US it's the FCC that voluntarily regulates TV while in Turkey it's the state and cable TV isn't exempted.
With the recent smoking ban in public places, the Turkish government in all its wisdom has also decided to ban smoking on TV. This means that whenever someone is smoking, the hand holding the cigarette, pipe, or cigar is blurred out. It look ridiculous and actually draws more attention to the fact that someone is smoking. I wonder what it's supposed to accomplish. Is it so kids don't think smoking is cool? Here's a conversation I thought of that might happen in a Turkish sitting room, translated into English.
Child: "Mommy, what's that man doing and why is his face all blurry and why is there smoke coming from his hand?"
Mother: "It's nothing, sweetheart." (puff puff) "Don't give it another thought."
Last night, we tuned into the middle of a film called "Powder Blue." It had this stripper scene in it:
No need to watch more than the first 30 seconds unless you want to see a pretty good strip scene. There's a part where she goes down the pole reeeeallly slooowly, upside down and grinding. Anyway.
Anyway, you'll notice that in the beginning of the scene she's smoking. In Turkey, presumably for the safety and moral protection of children, the cigarette was blurred out. Granted there was that thing she did with the pole, and then later in the scene after she's got the bra off she starts pouring hot wax all over her body and breasts, with lots of hot wax and breasty close-ups. But for the love of God, don't let anyone see she's smoking.
Actually, I imagined watching this movie with LE a few years in the future (okay, so I haven't decided when and what kind of TV to censor because I'm just not into that kind of thing unless it's something scary that gives him nightmares, like Spiderman), and the blurred-out cigarette could in fact save me from this loaded and challenging conversation:
LE: "Mommy, why is that lady dancing naked and putting hot wax on her boobs?"
Me: "Because it's her job?"
LE: "Why is it her job?
Me: "Ummmm... Hey guess what! It's bedtime!"
..and instead we can have this conversation:
LE: "Mommy, why is that naked lady's hand all blurry with smoke coming out of it?"
Me: "Because she's smoking a cigarette."
Me: "Because she's naughty. Now be quiet and let mommy watch."
Aren't contradictions grand?