If you were ever suspicious that television producers in Hollywood were lazy about research - this will confirm every misgiving. With season five of TV drama Homeland well underway, its creators got a very special surprise recently after finding out that the "Arabian street artists" they'd hired to decorate a faux Syrian refugee camp had sprayed some special messages on the walls. "Homeland is racist" and "Homeland is a joke, and it didn't make us laugh" were spray painted in Arabic - and despite many rounds of editing and production, no one even thought to translate what they'd written. #fail
The messages were the work of three graffiti artists, who were hired to bring some authenticity to the sets. Fed up with the show's perceived misrepresentation of the Middle East, they took to explain their actions in a blog post, published on Wednesday. "The series has garnered the reputation of being the most bigoted show on television for its inaccurate, undifferentiated and highly biased depiction of Arabs, Pakistanis, and Afghans, as well as its gross misrepresentations of the cities of Beirut, Islamabad- and the so-called Muslim world in general," wrote the Arabian street artists Heba Amin, Caram Kapp and Stone. "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."
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So when they were called by Homeland's production company in June 2015 to lend some "graffiti authenticity" to the sets, they took action. "It was our moment to make our point by subverting the message using the show itself." And subvert they did, colourfully decorating walls and falafel stands with anti-Homeland sentiment. While we probably don't need to explain the ironies of this situation to anyone, it's a pretty telling portrait of just how little attention Hollywood's powers that be actually pay to the outside world.
Here's what series co-creator and showrunner Alex Gansa had to say about the debacle: "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." There's a lesson to be learned here for all, guys: never underestimate the importance of a good fact check.