Homeland is racist? That’s what Arab street artists Heba Amin, Caram Kapp and Stone wrote on a Homeland Season 5 set that was meant to look like a Syrian refugee camp in Lebanon, Deadline reports.
— The Verge (@verge) October 15, 2015
The street artists were recruited by Homeland’s production company to provide “graffiti authenticity” to last Sunday’s episode. The “Homeland is racist” tag appeared on a wall that Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) walks past while in “Lebanon.”
Heba Amin, Caram Kapp, and Stone, who go by the name “Arabian Street Artists,” have said that the were told by Homeland producers to write messages that weren’t political. In a statement posted on Amin’s blog, they say that Homeland set designers were too “frantic” to pay any attention to what they were doing and what they were tagging on the walls was “of no concern.”
“Set designers were too frantic to pay any attention to us; they were busy constructing a hyper-realistic set that addressed everything from the plastic laundry pins to the frayed edges of outdoor plastic curtains,” Amin says. “The content of what was written on the walls, however, was of no concern. In their eyes, Arabic script is merely a supplementary visual that completes the horror-fantasy of the Middle East.”
Besides the “Homeland is racist” tag, the graffiti artists also wrote “Homeland is NOT a series,” “The situation is not to be trusted,” “This show does not represent the views of the artists,” and “#blacklivesmatter.”
Obviously, Homeland showrunners did not realise what the Arabian Street Artists were writing, and the political graffiti made it to air.
“We wish we’d caught these images before they made it to air,” said Homeland showrunner Alex Gansa. “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.”
As Mashable reports, this isn’t the first time that Homeland has been called out for anti-Muslim propaganda. Last October, an article in the Washington Post called Homeland “the most bigoted show on television.”
Post writer Laura Durkay pointed out numerous times that Homeland gets basic facts about Islam very wrong. In the first season, one of the characters claimed that the Koran had to be buried after it had been thrown on the ground. This is not true. Characters who are supposed to be Palestinian somehow have Persian names. Arab names are also constantly mispronounced. For example, Issa is pronounced “eye-sa” on the show, when it should really be “eee-sa.”
“More broadly, ‘Homeland’ carelessly traffics in absurd and damaging stereotypes.” Laura Durkay writes.
Deadline also notes that Homeland has gotten a lot of criticism for misrepresenting Islamic countries. In the first episode of Season 2, Homeland portrayed the Hamra district of Beirut as a dusty, terrorist-controlled area where there’s danger at every turn. In reality, Hamra is an upscale, cosmopolitan neighborhood filled with cafes, nightclubs, and retail stores like H&M.
According to Deadline, Hamra is politically neutral and is not the Hezbollah-controlled den of violence that the Homeland TV show made it out to be. Homeland’s depiction of Hamra led Lebanon’s Tourism Minister, Faddy Abboud, to threaten Homeland producers with a lawsuit.
Homeland Season 5 centers around Carrie Mathison in her new job working for a philanthropic organization in Berlin. According to Wikipedia, the new season will portray several real people, events, and organizations, including, Edward Snowden, the Syrian refugee crisis, Vladimir Putin, and the Charlie Hebdo shooting.
Due to its track record, critics of the show have no confidence that Homeland will portray these events and the people involved accurately.
“For four seasons, and entering its fifth, Homeland has maintained the dichotomy of the photogenic, mainly white, mostly American protector versus the evil and backwards Muslim threat,” Heba Amin, one of the Arabian Street Artists, writes on her blog. “Granted, the show gets high praise from the American audience for its criticism of American government ethics, but not without dangerously feeding into the racism of the hysterical moment we find ourselves in today.”
Homeland airs on Sundays on Showtime at 9 p.m. EST.
[Photo via Showtime]