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‘Homeland is racist’: artists get graffiti onto TV show

TextHannah Rose Ewens

Street artists were asked to bring authenticity to Syrian refugee camp scenes in this week’s episode - instead they added subversive messages

We’re presuming here that most people who watch Homeland, a high drama show about US foreign relations, speak English as their first language, right? Well, this week’s episode has shown that assumption definitely extends to the actors and production team. And every single person that didn’t notice the glaring “HOMELAND IS A JOKE, AND IT DIDN’T MAKE US LAUGH” written on the walls of the set throughout filming. Or through edits.

This slogan, and other equally subversive messages, were written by three graffi artists hired to add authenticity to refugee camp scenes. Instead, they decided to use their artwork to accuse Homeland of racism.

If you don’t believe it, wait until the second episode of the fifth season, which will be shown in the UK on Sunday. You’ll catch lead character Carrie Mathison, played by Clare Danes, marching through a fictional Syrian refugee camp, past a wall covered with Arabic script reading: “Homeland is racist.”

The artists, Heba Amin, Caram Kapp and Stone, wrote a blog to explain why they’d done this. “Given the series’ reputation,” they wrote, “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.”

During an early meeting with production, the statement claims they’d been given images of pro-Assad graffiti – “apparently natural in a Syrian refugee camp”. However, they decided to take this chance to vocalise criticisms of the show.

They claimed the Arabic script was not checked by producers. “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.” 

These three artists haven’t been the only ones to critique Homeland for its depiction of the Muslim world. The show has angered many over its five seasons. And now those criticisms are very clear for all of us to see – even if a production team didn’t.

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