When the show's producers hired street artists Heba Amin, Stone and Caram Kapp to paint Arabic graffiti on a set with instructions to keep it apolitical, the outspoken artists did the exact opposite: They painted script that translates to "Homeland is racist."
"Set designers were too frantic to pay any attention to us; they were busy constructing a hyper-realistic set that addressed everything from the plastic laundry pins to the frayed edges of outdoor plastic curtains. It looked very Middle Eastern and the summer sun and heat helped heighten that illusion," the artists said in a statement. "In their eyes, Arabic script is merely a supplementary visual that completes the horror-fantasy of the Middle East, a poster image dehumanizing an entire region to human-less figures in black burkas and moreover, this season, to refugees. The show has thus created a chain of causality with Arabs at its beginning and as its outcome — their own victims and executioners at the same time."
But the most unexpected twist in this story is how Showtime responded. In a statement to Entertainment Weekly, Homeland cocreater and showrunner Alex Gansa said, "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."
In an interview with the Washington Post, Amin explained that she initially didn't want to do the art because of her political views, but then, she said, she thought, "What if we could use this as an opportunity to be subversive, to make a point with it?"
Amin continued to say that Homeland portrays an "inaccurate, undifferentiated and highly biased depiction of Arabs, Pakistanis, and Afghans… 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."
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