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Hardboiled Performance and Affective Intimacy: Remediations of Racism in the Cenk Batu Tatorte

  • Author(s): Breger, Claudia
  • et al.

Although not around to stay, the first Turkish German detective to be featured in the Germany’s most popular television crime series, Tatort nonetheless represented a major TV event (2008–12). In his sixth episode as an investigator in a series famous for its continued engagement with topical social issues, Cenk Batu would be killed off after his loyalty to the German state had been tested by the schemes of a ruthless killer trying to exploit Batu’s love for a woman. Cast in the role of an undercover agent rather than regular police investigator, Batu’s portrayal more fully tapped into—and reworked—the topoi of the hardboiled genre than did most Tatort detective teams. In this sense, the Batu episodes can be read as a performative remediation of Germany’s heightened debates on Muslim immigration taking place at the intersection of post-September 11 anti-Islam(ist) culturalisms and an established, cross-media tradition of stereotyping Turkish German ‘thug’ masculinity. However, paradigms that deploy performativity as both a critique and reconfiguration of hegemonic discourse only partially capture the nature of the cultural interventions undertaken in these episodes. Via innovative aesthetics that blur the lines between cinema and TV, the Batu episodes also contributed to a twenty-first century visual culture focused on experiences of sensation, perception, and affect. This aesthetics of sensation challenged Tatort audiences to affectively engage with their first Turkish German Tatort investigator. In exploring remediations of racism in this context, this article rearticulates established paradigms of performance studies by bringing them into dialogue with recent conceptualizations of affect and of narrativity.

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