Through the years, many changes have been observable in the world. These changes have greatly affected the society in which the people interact with each other. In relation to this, different countries around the globe have also experienced the reforms that have taken place. One of the most prominent changes that are greatly observable is the fact that countries are becoming more interconnected and interdependent than ever before. In the past, most countries are only concerned with their domestic affairs.
However, at present, international affair has also been included as one of their most important concerns. Because of the establishment of greater relations among countries, various countries are starting to open their borders for other nations. In connection to this, the process of migration has also been widely observable as more and more people are relocating to other countries to seek for greener pasture and other reasons that tend to be beneficial for them. Nevertheless, there are also disadvantages in this kind of situation especially when it comes to cultural differences.
This is evident in the main character of the movie “Head On” who experienced difficulties in integrating her Turkish culture with the German way of life. A German sociologist by the name of Claus Leggewie states: “A racist is somebody who defines—no matter whether genetic, historic, ethnic or cultural—people alone with respect to their background and thus tries to fix (and block) their options for the future” (Leggewie 103). Having this definition of what a racist is in mind, it can be said that the character of Sibel in “Head On” further elaborates on the issue of racism.
The issue of racism is quite observable as an effect of Sibel’s attitude about her desire to live a life that veers away from her Turkish roots. Sibel experiences a life of discontent because her family is very strict and authoritative when it comes to imposing upon her their Turkish tradition. This is the main reason that Sibel rebels against her parents because she wants to forego her Turkish roots and live a life that is more patterned to the Western lifestyle. She wants to have the individuality and sexual liberty that the Western way of life offers.
This kind of thinking that Sibel could be attributed to the racist ideology that is very observable in her surroundings. Since she was able to experience living in Germany wherein most people have this racist perspective against those with different backgrounds as compared to them, they tend to become very discriminatory or even violent at times. Because of this, Sibel have this feeling that she is becoming an outcast and the only way for her to belong is by becoming like them (Petek 180-182). Moreover, the situation in her family also tends to foster this desire to become more westernized.
As it is depicted in the movie, she feels oppressed even inside her family because she has to follow a very patriarchal tradition that robs her of the right to make her own decisions in life. In this sense, the family that she has even contributes to the problem that she has instead of being a source of refuge from racism (“Head-on”). On the other hand, some critics of this film also argued that the movie itself represents racism. This is due to their observation that it represented the Turkish family of Sibel in exclusively negative terms. They focused on the irredeemably oppressive and inexorably patriarchal characteristic.
In this sense, they deem that the movie perpetuated the traditional “cinema duty” wherein the Westerners perspectives and way of life is better compared to the others. This is supported by the view of Deniz Gokturk when he wrote, this kind of films “confirmed the view that German society in general is more civilized and enlightened than the archaic Turkish community” (Petek 181). In relation to these, criticisms against the lead actress of the film, Sibel Kekilli has also created a big issue. Sibel Kekilli who stared as Sibel in the movie “Head On” received critical acclaims because of her performance in this motion picture.
She even won the Golden Berlin Bear Award during the 2004 Berlin Film Festival and also the Outstanding Individual Achievement Award for an actress in the German Film Awards (Fauth and Dermansky). However, it was later found out that she already had a previous acting career as a porn star. She used to do pornographic films with Magma, a porn film studio. When confronted about it, Kekilli did not deny about her previous occupation as a porn star. Nevertheless, she reiterated that this is simply part of her past and what is important now is that she is moving forward as an actress (“Minor Porn Star or Cinematic Joan of Arc”).
Moreover, criticism started to heighten when the public found out that Kekilli is a daughter of her Turkish parents who immigrated to Germany. When her parents found out that she was a porn-star before, they burned her pictures similar to the fate of her character in “Head On” (Fauth and Dermansky). Worse than that, there is also a threat against Kekilli’s life because of the wrath of some Turkish national that she is a disgrace to their honor code (“Minor Porn Star or Cinematic Joan of Arc”).
The difficulties of dealing with two different cultures are indeed observable in the case of Sibel. In the same manner, many people especially young children are also facing hardships because of cultural issues. According to a study conducted by Michael Anderson from the University of Newcastle, children who were raised in families that adhere to different cultures often experience identity confusion wherein they are put “in-between” the norms and traditions of the cultures that they learned.
As a result, they tend to have hybrid identities that are combination or mixture of the various cultures that they have (Anderson 13). Being the case, it is essential that the issue of racism and other concerns related to cultural differences are given due importance because it affects the very well-being of individuals.
Anderson, Michael. “Children In-Between: Constructing Identities in the Bicultural Family. ” The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 5 (199): 13-26. Fauth, Jurgen., & Dermansky, Marcy. “Sibel Kekilli. ” 31 March 2009
<http://worldfilm. about. com/od/germanactresses/p/sibelkekilli. htm>. “Head-On. ” N. d. 31 March 2009 < http://home. earthlink. net/~steevee/head. html>. “Minor Porn Star or Cinematic Joan of Arc? ” n. d. Learn Turkish. 31 March 2009 <http://www. learningpracticalturkish. com/turkish-movies-k. html>. Petek, Polona. “Enabling Collisions: Re-thinking Multiculturalism through Fatih Akin’s Gegen die Wand/Head On. ” Studies in European Cinema, 4 (2007): 177-186.