ByMark Newton, writer at Creators.co
Movie Pilot Associate Editor. Email: [email protected]
Mark Newton

Homeland is no stranger to controversy, especially regarding its depiction of Arabs, Muslims and the 'Middle East' in general. However, usually this criticism comes from others outside of the production, not from the actual show itself. Today it was revealed a group of Berlin-based graffiti artists managed to play a rather political prank on the production of Homeland.

For the latest series, the production team wanted to film scenes set in a Syrian refugee camp and in order to create an 'authentic' look, they hired a group of artists to dawb their Berlin sets with Arabic graffiti.

The result can be seen in the recently released second episode of the fifth season. In the episode, we can see Claire Danes striding past a wall covered in Arabic script - to most it would be indecipherable, but to readers of Arabic it read: "Homeland is racist". However, they didn't leave it there. They created a series of graffiti phrases including “Homeland is a joke, and it didn’t make us laugh”, “” and "This show does not represent the views of the artists."

"The graffiti on the left says: ‘Freedom … now in 3D’. The one on the right says: ‘Homeland is watermelon’ (which is slang for not to be taken seriously)." The Guardian
"The graffiti on the left says: ‘Freedom … now in 3D’. The one on the right says: ‘Homeland is watermelon’ (which is slang for not to be taken seriously)." The Guardian

Is Homeland racist?

This is not the first time these accusations have been levelled at Homeland. It has frequently been criticised for its uniform portrayal of Arab people and cultures as well as its failure to accurate differentiate between different Islamic and Arab groups, cultures and sects. For the artists responsible for this graffiti, Heba Amin, Caram Kapp and Stone, the productions failure to notice their stunt is indicative of the issue. They explained in a statement:

The content of what was written on the walls … was of no concern. In their eyes, Arabic script is merely a supplementary visual that completes the horror-fantasy of the Middle East, a poster image dehumanising an entire region to human-less figures in black burkas and moreover, this season, to refugees.

Amin added in an interview with The Guardian:

We think the show perpetuates dangerous stereotypes by diminishing an entire region into a farce through the gross misrepresentations that feed into a narrative of political propaganda. It is clear they don’t know the region they are attempting to represent. And yet, we suffer the consequences of such shallow and misguided representation.
"The message on the left says: ‘Homeland is not a series’. The one on the right says: ‘The situation is not to be trusted’ and ‘This show does not represent the views of the artists’." The Guardian
"The message on the left says: ‘Homeland is not a series’. The one on the right says: ‘The situation is not to be trusted’ and ‘This show does not represent the views of the artists’." The Guardian

For their part, the network behind Homeland, Showtime, has yet to respond, although Homeland's executive producer and creator, Alex Gansa, reluctantly applauded the act. He stated:

We wish we’d caught these images before they made it to air. However, as Homeland always strives to be subversive in its own right and a stimulus for conversation, we can’t help but admire this act of artistic sabotage.

It seems Homeland might be slowly reacting to the criticism, or at the very least, it seems the network is now bored of Islamist antagonists. David Nevins, Showtime's Network president, said earlier this year that the show would eventually be moving onto new subjects in order to "change it up a little bit."

Source: The Guardian

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