Music Videos as Protest Communication: The Gezi Park Protest on YouTube

Arden Henley
Friday 25 November 2022

Jenzen, Olu, et al. In The Aesthetics of Global Protest: Visual Culture and Communication, edited by Aidan McGarry et al., 211-232. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2020.

This article discusses how artists used music and music videos to create a counternarrative during Turkey’s 2013 Gezi Park protests. It analyzes the various tactics used by artists and filmmakers, such as mash-ups, footage from the streets of the protest, and the arguments presented by the lyrics, and how each was used to incite political action and provide a narrative against that of the state propaganda. It also briefly discusses the impact of putting the videos on YouTube, which was unregulated by the state, and using hashtags to spread the videos as far as possible on the Internet. The article, and the case study it examines, demonstrate the power of music and film in protests for peace.

Through this article we can see the power that art has as a political motivator. Music and music videos are inherently joyful–they were created to allow us to enjoy ourselves, often communally, and to appreciate both aural and visual art. The Gezi Park videos were not boring or demoralizing the way a prepared written statement on freedom of speech or video depicting state violence toward protesters would have been but were instead engaging and entertaining while still containing a powerful political message. By linking community, music, protest, and peace, these music videos managed to inspire and encourage action rather than promoting fear or uncertainty among its viewers.


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