Artists Sneak 'Homeland Is Racist' Message Into New Episode Of Homeland
The Debrief: The graffiti artists they hired to make the set look 'authentic' had other ideas.
You know when you see things in the background of shows that are there to add atmosphere? Graffiti, for example. Of course you do. It’s put there for a reason: it’s supposed to add a sense of authenticity, to set the scene so viewers are drawn in and feel like what they’re watching is as real as possible.
Like many shows, the makers of Homeland were doing just that when they asked three graffiti artists to use their art form to give some ‘authenticity’ to the Syrian refugee camp which features in this week’s episode (it airs in the UK on Sunday but has already been broadcast in the US and Australia).
But, the artists they hired had a different idea in mind.
One of the artists, Heba Amin, explained via a statement on her website, Arabian Street Artists Bomb Homeland: Why We Hack An Award-Winning Series], how she and two other artists (Caram Kapp and Stone) were approached as ‘Arabian street artists’ to make the set of a Syrian refugee camp look authentic.
They were given ‘a set of images of pro-Assad graffiti, which is apparently natural in a Syrian refugee camp. Our instructions were: (1) the graffiti has to be apolitical (2) you cannot copy the images because of copyright infringement (3) writing “Mohamed is the greatest, is okay of course”.’
Instead, the artists decided they would use the opportunity to portray their grievances towards the show.
‘Given the series’ reputation, we were not easily convinced, until we considered what a moment of intervention could relay about our own and many others’ political discontent with the series. It was our moment to make our point by subverting the message using the show itself.’
'Homeland is NOT a series'
Speaking to the Guardian, Heba elaborated on their feelings towards Homeland. ‘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,' she said.
The slogans they wrote on the set included ‘Homeland is racist’, ‘Homeland is a joke, and it didn’t make us laugh’, ‘#blacklivesmatter’ and ‘This show does not represent the views of the artists’.
Heba described how set designers were ‘too frantic’ to pay them any attention and check the translations of the graffiti. ‘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, a poster image dehumanising an entire region to human-less figures in black burkas and moreover, this season, to refugees.’
Top: ‘We didn’t resist, so he conquered us riding on a donkey’; bottom: ‘The situation is not to be trusted’; left: ‘This show does not represent the views of the artists’
The show has come under fire before for its apparent inaccurate representation of the Middle East, with the Washington Post even calling it ‘the most bigoted show on television’ for its Islamopobic stereotypes throughout the series.
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Pictures: Stephan Rabold/Showtime, Heba Amin, Caram Kapp, Stone.
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