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Ani Kojoyan “Armenian soap operas are a collection of violence and gender stereotypes”

Awarding State Prize to one of the scriptwriters of Armenian soap operas on the occasion of the International Women’s Day became subject of heated debates on social networks … It should be noted that in fact the motives of the debates is not an attitude towards a person, but the concern about the content of the TV series broadcasting in Armenia and the questionable values propagated through them.

 

Our conversation with Ani Kojoyan, a gender-subject researcher, is about obvious propaganda of violence against women and gender stereotypes in soap operas. WomenNet.am has had an opportunity to address Ani Kojoyan and Anna Gevorgyan’s 2013-2014 survey on the same issue. Here is our first question, what has changed today, many years later …

 

– According to my personal observation, at least 16 TV series are broadcasted by Armenian TV channels. The genres have changed in these soap operas, as when we were studying, at that time there were not many soap operas of situation comedy or analogical genre.  That is, genre comedy serials are news for Armenia. In terms of content, it is again a collection of violence and gender stereotypes. On the other hand, they continue the style and content of soap operas released in 2013-14 with all types of violence, threats, insults, blasphemy, physical violence … Again, women are presented as either a housewife or a rich woman who does not work. And recently, as a novelty, there is also a working woman (“Piece of Pomegranate”) who is again under pressure and exposed to sexual harassment.

 

 – What is the approach to soap operas in other countries and how do foreign soap operas differ from Armenian soap operas?

 

Throughout the world, influences on TV series are used to raise social issues, such as prostitution, drug abuse, trafficking, and other issues. They also raise the awareness of public awareness. And Armenian soap operas are overly personalized on the personal issues of the heroes. Moreover, heroes are highly selective and do not represent all the groups in our society.

 

Referring to Indian soap operas Ani Kojoan said: “Indian soap operas really won the Armenian air. Today, the rating of the Indian soap operas is higher than that of local soap operas. The fact that Indian soap operas provide more insight should be a signal for Armenian soap operas. Violence scenes in Indian soap operas are not so cruel and real. There is so much grotesque scene of violence that the viewer understands that it is staged and not real. In Armenian soap operas, even rape scenes show such brutality that it can have an impact on the people, especially on children’s mental health.

 

– What advice can we give in order to improve the situation?

 

First, it is desirable that screenwriters have a professional education. Second, it is very important that social issues in soap operas are raised. Our screenwriters are very passionate about criticism and immediately start defending themselves. However, criticism does not concern them but their work. Civil society should constantly raise the issue of violence and stereotypes in soap operas until we reach a change.

 

Arman Gharibyan

Full text in Armenian

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