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22 October 1980 |
Gökbakar grew up in Turkey's capital, Ankara, attending the primary school and high school attached to the Middle East Technical University (ODTÜ). After completing high school in 1997, he went on to study music and visual arts at Bilkent University's Faculty of Fine Arts in Ankara. He graduated in 2002, with a GPA that ranked him fourth out of a total class of 350. Gökbakar's early life was overshadowed by the death of his father in a traffic accident when he was eight years old.
After university, Gökbakar tried his luck in some promo elections and as a result was given the opportunity to make his own program on TV8, a Turkish satellite TV channel. His first show was called "Zibin" (a Turkish word for "very soft undershirt for a baby"). The show received good ratings and was followed by another called "Zoka" ("trap" or "bait") and finally a show called "Dikkat Şahan çıkabilir" ("Watch out: Şahan May Appear") which established him in a long line of nationally famous burlesque comedians stretching back to the 19th century. But Şahan Gökbakar's humor is focused mainly on 21st century societal conventions governing Turkey's leisure and consumerist classes, and the ways in which they conflict with the views of the uneducated outsider who is often unaware of such conventions.
Recep İvedik, the eponymous protagonist of the popular film series, had according to Hürriyet Daily News reviewer Emrah Güler, enjoyed some moderate fame as the anti-hero in comedian Şahan Gökbakar’s sketch shows, generating a modest fan group on YouTube. Gökbakar teamed up with his younger brother Togan Gökbakar, who first made his name as a director with some short films and had always showed an interest in working with his older brother, to turn the character into a cash cow with a series of films, which proved to be the highest grossing movies in the respective years of their release and at the same time the most loathed films to come to screens in the minds of critics and intellectuals.
Used to getting his way everywhere by shouting, raging, and threats of physical violence, İvedik is the ultimate embodiment of incivility in a consumerist age, unable to operate a hotel door key or use its bathroom, but with an underlying desire to conform to his own naive and outdated conceptions of moral and social rules. İvedik could possibly be taken as emblematic of the traditionalist forces making inroads into the lives of Turkey's westernized middle classes, but Gökbakar only hints at this possible interpretation. (Another interpretation would be that the main traits of İvedik are derived from those of characters in Turkey's traditional Karagöz shadow puppet plays). This film, like Turkish burlesque film comedy extracts draws its fun (and it is extremely funny for most viewers) from representing a collision between conventional stock-in-trade figures and an outsider who undermines them, rather than from satire: in other words it does not have a social message, beyond showing that attempts to lead a conventional life are more fragile than they seem and easily upset by the arrival of an uncivil intruder. İvedik despite his black beard and eastern clothes (at one point in the film he makes his bathroom towel into a turban) is more urban than rural, has an email address, and speaks at least a few words of international English. Much of his humour arises from his lack of self-awareness and inability to perceive the reactions of others to him. He contrasts strongly with Turkish burlesque protagonists in earlier generations of films who tended to be deferential, physically slight, and to wriggle their way out of difficult situations and who operated against a backdrop of a much less economically advanced society. There are other indicators of social change. "Recep İvedik" is full of noise, angry shouting, appalling behaviour, and abusive swear-words which were never heard in public in Turkey before. Though the plot is flimsy, Gökbakar's acting brings İvedik side-splittingly to life and one has little or no sense of the actor creating him.
We are uneasy that our district is being mentioned by a character like İvedik, proclaimed Abdullah Yılmaz, president of the Youth Council for Güngören District, the district of Istanbul where Recep İvedik is portrayed as residing, Güngören is a district where educated and intellectual people live. It is not right to associate Güngören with an impolite character who does not know any manners, he continued before stating that the council would take action to prevent the district from being mentioned in future films in the series.
- Güler, Emrah (13 February 2010). "WEEK AT THE MOVIES: Two romantic films and one anti-hero hit the screens". Hürriyet Daily News. Retrieved 2010-08-13.
- Hülagü, Ayhan (28 February 2010). "Turkish cinema world becoming family-run affair". Today's Zaman. Retrieved 2010-02-18.
- "No redneck townsman of mine". Habertürk. 17 February 2010. Retrieved 2010-08-13.