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Earlier this week, an episode of Homeland aired that featured some seemingly innocuous graffiti. This week, however, the artists who created the graffiti for the set in Germany revealed the Arabic script that was present was actually pretty derogatory toward Homeland itself. Some of the phrases that they chose to put into their graffiti art included the following:
Homeland is NOT a series;
In a blog post, the artists revealed they had been chosen to do graffiti for the new season of the show back in June of 2015. When they were given criteria from the show, they were told to create phrases that were “apolitical” and that they could not be copied images, due to copyright infringement. However, when the street artists Heba Amin, Caram Kapp and Stone showed up on set, people paid very little attention to their work, enabling them to create anti-Homeland phrases with little fanfare or notice.
The set decoration had to be completed in two days, for filming on the third. 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 content of what was written on the walls, however, was of no concern.
The artists said that while they feel the show is well-acted, it has had many problems with racist portrayals of populations, including its portrayal of Arabs, Pakistanis and Afghans, and they wanted to show that through their graffiti. This isn’t the first time someone has accused Homeland of not being correct in its depictions of life in the Middle East. Last season, the show came under fire from Pakistani officials who were majorly displeased at how Islamabad and the Urdu language were shown on the Showtime drama, and they also spoke out about the issues.
In the time since the artists revealed their subterfuge, showrunner Alex Ganza has released a statement to several sites noting he wished people on set had been paying more attention so the graffiti could have been dropped.
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.
Homeland will continue to air its fifth season on Showtime on Sunday nights at 9 p.m. ET. Likely less graffiti will be noticeable in future episodes, however.