Porçay, a Turkish youtuber, released a parody song titled “I am smoking weed” three years ago referencing Turkish rapper Ezhel’s songs for which Ezhel was put on trial due to ‘promotion of drug abuse’. Porçay mostly produces parody song adaptations on his youtube channel and he is mostly known through these works. Now, because of a parody song, Porçay was sentenced to 4 years and 2 months in prison on the charge of “encouraging use of drugs and stimulants”. Ezhel, a Turkish rapper, had also been taken into custody last year for his songs, being accused of drug-promoting and social media posts. Ironically, Porçay have stated that this song was a parody on his video title, criticizing the rap musicians’ constant focus on drugs in their song themes. Also Porçay expressed that he wanted to criticize the rap songs by exaggerating to smoke weed.
Saying that “I could not comprehend what I was experiencing”, Porçay released a video in which he explained the whole process since the beginning of the trial in 2018. He has repeatedly stated that he has no intention to encouraging drug use.
Porçay also explained the clip of this song in the context of the harms of drug use in this video. He said “I created a character who desperately sleep on the ground and had an attack in the dark atmosphere because this is sad and use of drug is bad. I tried to show this in the parody song.”
DETAILS OF THE TRIAL
Porçay’s lawyer Ali Gül, shared further details on the court case process through a flood on his twitter account:
“For 2 years, we tried to explain to the court that a joke was a joke. Neither the prosecutor nor the judge understood such an obvious satire. We were able to explain Ezhel to the judges in two trial, and presented news from Hürriyet. We watched the video again in the last trial. The prosecutor said, ‘Is that a criticism?’”
Ali Gül also questions why this song, criticizing drug use, is punished for drug-promoting.
Lawyer Gül said that the judge regretted after his decision. Ali Gül reports that the judge said ‘then, decision will be corrected in the appeal!” Lawyer Gül asked “Why is this decision not made by the judge?”
FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION
“The song is criticizing drug use, but when the song it penalized it raises the issue of freedom of expression and artistic free expression. Why does a production that is declared ‘a parody’ receive such a penalty, or should it even be put on trial?”
“Now, in Turkey, we are in the position that we have to defend all rights and liberties. We are questioning legitimacy of many sentences and rules at all times. As one of them, Porçay’s case, is an example of violation of freedom of expression and artistic freedom.”
Lawyer Ali Gül commented on the verdict, “So fantastic even by Turkey’s standards.”
INTERVIEW WITH PORÇAY
What does it mean for you to get sentenced to 4 years 2 months in prison because of a parody song? Do you think this verdict will be overruled in Appeals Court?
- Parodies reflect neither one’s real thoughts nor their character. I understand that we cannot get away with everything by writing “this is a parody”. However, I think that both in my song and in my video, I have made it clear that my intention is not to encourage drugs -as best as I can- but to make fun of the situations through satire they are encouraged to do so, and to warn people. In this situation, being accused and punished for what I stand against is something I still do not understand.
You stated and explained that this song and video are parody. You wrote this clearly in the video description. How does it feel to be not understood?
- Until now, there have been many situations that I was not understood properly. Even, I gave up trying to be understood. But, I have never been misunderstood by someone who has the power to change my life so dramatically. This is more horrible than the other situations. I do not want anyone to go through this kind of an experience.
You have repeatedly tried to explain to the court that this is a parody and a criticism through imitation. Fans and viewers also know that and react to this decision on social media. Despite this, what do you think about the verdict, if we define it as a violation of freedom of expression, what does it mean in the name of artistic free expression?
- This decision made me better understand why we cannot see the criticisms of the form of imitation, which were also made on television in the past. Art must transcend the human self and experience. Would it be right to ask someone who says “I’ll take the stars down from the sky for you” in his song to make his claim and otherwise say he is a liar?
Will you continue to produce parody songs after such an experience and/or will there be any changes in your style?
- I have been thinking a lot about why I like parodies and parody productions. Although imitating things to criticize is fun and I like it, I think I will focus more on expressing myself now because I am tired of being judged by what I do not believe.
If you were in another country, do you think this decision would be like this again?
- I do not think so…
If you get understood correctly and the verdict is overruled, will you feel safer or can you feel safe in the process?
- In this process, what I said “this cannot happen” has happened to me. Even though I can get through this incident, it will take time for me to recover.
Many people have supported and continue to support you on social media. What would you like to tell them?
- I really thank those who supported me. I do not know how I would have survived the night of the day when I heard the decision if I did not have their good wishes.
Have you experienced similar lawsuits before due to other works?
- Yes unfortunately. I do not want to go into too much detail. However, another lawsuit is still ongoing because I am mistaken for the person I am imitating.
Did you get support from Ezhel in this process?
- Ezhel conveyed his well-wishes for me. He told me that he was standing with me and not to be upset. It is a great maturity to wish well for the person who parodied one’s work. I thanked him, but would like to take this opportunity to thank him again in front of those who are reading this now.
Translation of lyrics:
I am smoking weed
I smoke weed when I wake up
My head is weed, I am high
I like smoking weed
Each day, each night I smoke hash
I smoke weed and take hash, you don’t like?
I smoke weed, each day and night
I like smoking weed
When I smoke weed my joy returns, it is gun
Today I thought what I should do
Then said ‘I will smoke weed’
I smoke weed each day & night
I can taste it in my mouth
I want it again
Weed is good
Weed is great
I wish everything was weed
Nothing else than weed
I wish weed…
If everything was weed and I smoked it.
If water was weed,
I would be thirsty everyday
My mouth opens
I speak and smoke weed
I smoke weed everyday
If I cannot smoke weed I find and smoke again
Each day when I wake up and see?
There was weed by the bed, so
I thought to myself, why not smoke
It is a great thing to smoke weed
I love smoking weed
I wish I can smoke everyday
If there was no smoking weed
I could die!
Each minute, each second I smoke weed
I love smoking weed.