The U.S. award winning series, Homeland, has been hacked by a trio of Arabian street artists.
Aired on October 11, 2015, the second episode of the fifth season of Homeland, showed Claire Dane’s character, Carrie Mathison, walking through a Syrian refugee camp. Behind her, the message, “Homeland is racist,” had been graffitied on the wall in Arabic.
Other blatant messages against the show soon followed: “Homeland is NOT a series”; “Homeland is a joke, and it didn’t make us laugh”; “Against the red, blue, and purple devil”; “There is no Homeland”; “This show does not represent the views of the artists”.
On October 14, a trio of artists known as “Arabian Street Artists” claimed responsibility for the subversive graffiti. The group, consisting of Egyptian artist, Heba Y. Amin, and two other artists, Caram Kapp and Stone, stated the graffiti was a subtle protest against the “inaccurate, undifferentiated and highly biased depiction of Arabs, Pakistanis, and Afghans, as well as [Homeland’s] gross misrepresentations of the cities of Beirut, Islamabad–and the so-called Muslim world in general.”
The trio had received a phone call from a friend who had been contacted by Homeland’s set production company because they were searching for “Arabian street artists” to give graffiti authenticity to the Syrian refugee camp film set. During their initial meeting, the artists were given instructions to create “apolitical” graffiti. Writing “Mohamed is the greatest” was also encouraged. According to Amin, In the eyes of Homeland producers, “Arabic script [was] merely a supplementary visual that [completed] the horror fantasy of the Middle East.”
The set designers were too frantic creating the “hyper-realistic” Syrian refugee camp within a short time frame, to pay any attention to the artists.
And so, the political messages made their way on air.
Since it premiered in 2011, Homeland has been viewed by many as a problematic show, because of its maintenance of the bigoted genre of the white American protector versus the evil and orthodox Muslim threat. and is described by Amin, as “racist programming”. Homeland focuses on Islamist extremists and terrorists in the Middle East, has been criticised for failing to confront myths and misconceptions about Arabs and Muslims and Islamophobia. Laura Durkay for The Washington Post called it “the most bigoted show on television.”
Homeland shamelessly regurgitates the Islamic propaganda that has circulated the Western World via mainstream media, especially in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks. Season four’s poster shows Carrie, a blonde haired, white woman, as a “white Red Riding Hood lost in a forest of faceless Muslim wolves.”
Alex Gansa, the creator, executive producer and showrunner of Homeland, responded to the graffitied protest, by saying, “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.”
If only Gansa would realise that the Arabian Street Artists’ series of graffiti were more than just “artistic sabotage”, but a political protest against the toxic misrepresentations of Muslims and the Middle East.