‘Homeland’ Accidentally Accuses Itself of Racism in On-Set Graffiti
There’s little skirting the fact that Showtime’s Homeland would occasionally portray various foreign powers in a villainous light, earning potential ire from said countries in the real world. That outrage seems to have spurred some crafty on-set graffiti artists, who managed to sneak in some accusations of racism into the Showtime drama’s latest episode.
Even those who read Arabic may not have paid much attention to the ambient scrawls of Homeland’s Sunday installment “The Tradition of Hospitality,” but the eagle-eyed among us may have have spotted a few digs at the show, as hired set decorators placed a few messages in view, including “Homeland is Racist,” “Homeland is NOT a Series,” “#BlackLivesMatter,” and perhaps best of all, “Homeland is Watermelon.”
So what happened? Production apparently hired out to three members of “Arabian Street Artists” to decorate an in-show refugee camp with pro-President Bashar al-Assad graffiti, Though the three artists (Heba Amin, Caram Kapp and “Stone”) instead took the opportunity to call out the series’ “inaccurate, undifferentiated and highly biased depiction of Arabs, Pakistanis, and Afghans.”
Said Amin to The Washington Post:
It’s very important for us to address the idea that this kind of stereotyping is very dangerous because it helps form people’s perceptions of an entire region, a huge region, which in turn affects foreign policy. It was a way to claim back our image. […]
We discovered that no one was paying attention or even asking what we were writing. Initially, we started writing the proverbs, and then we realized we could write whatever we wanted … [That no one noticed] was a huge surprise, and not a surprise. In a sense, this is why we had the idea to begin with. … We knew there wasn’t much research and energy into accurately depicting [the region].
For his part, Homeland showrunner Alex Gansa seemed to take the revelation in stride. Per Deadline:
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.
Homeland Season 5 will continue this coming Sunday with “Super Powers,” but what other subversive messages might make it into the season? Has the Showtime drama become an international punchline for its apparent xenophobia?
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