“Homeland” Graffiti Stunt Highlights Show’s Responsibility To Be Accurate


In the Name of God: The Extremely and Everlastingly Loving and Caring

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.

Thus spake Alex Gansa, co-creator of Showtime’s hit series “Homeland,” in response to the revelation that Arabic graffiti that appeared on a recent episode actually bashed the show. The graffiti artists put messages such as: “Homeland is racist”; “There is no Homeland”; and “Homeland is not a series.”

The artists, Arabian Street Artists, detail why they did what they did:

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. 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.

I must say that I’m very impressed with this act of “artistic sabotage.” But, it raises a larger point: despite being fictional, television series – especially popular ones like “Homeland” – do have a responsibility to be accurate to the facts.

This is especially true when it comes to the Arab and Muslim world. The misinformation about Islam and Muslims – even in the digital and social media age of 2015 – is overwhelming. So many people get their information from “news” outlets like Fox News and shows like “Homeland.” Thus, like it or not, these shows must stay accurate to the facts.

Yes, there are bad Arab and Muslim guys out there. I am not saying that this should be whitewashed. But to continue perpetuating the very worst of stereotypes against Arabs and Muslims is wrong, because it only continues mistrust and misinformation.

A promotional poster for “Homeland.” (jim Fiscus/Showtime)

Such mistrust and misinformation leads to real-life consequences, such as the recent “Global Rally for Humanity,” which fizzled across the country, thank God. While I am not saying that “Homeland” led to such anti-Muslim hate, but any perpetuation of misinformation is wrong, no matter who or what the subject matter is.

When I was writing my first medical thriller, “Code Blue,” I had to make sure that my medical facts were accurate, because it is my responsibility not only as an author, but as a doctor as well. I do not want to perpetuate medical misinformation because readers would naturally assume that, as a doctor, the medical facts I was discussing in the book would be actual facts.

Despite being extremely connected, the amount of ignorance and misinformation in our time is as widespread as ever, especially when it comes to Arabs, Islam, and Muslims. Shows such as “Homeland” need to understand their power as a force for good or bad.

You can still have an award-winning show but not say that Al Qaeda – a Sunni extremist group of savages – is actually an Iranian venture, which is Shi’ite. You can still have an award-winning show and not make the viewers come away with the impression that all Arabs and Muslims are nefarious, scheming devils.

I am awed by the courage of these artists, which started a very important and necessary conversation about art and its responsibility to the truth. And I pray that meaningful positive change can come about as a result.

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