This video describes how graffiti artists snuck subversive messages onto a 2015 episode of Homeland, an American political and espionage television show about a CIA agent. The artists were asked by producers to add Arabic graffiti to the walls of a fictional Syrian refugee camp and they decided to take the opportunity to make a statement about the show’s repeated stereotyping and negative, limited portrayals of Muslims, Arabs, and the Middle East. The clip describes what happened and also shows one of the artists explaining why he finds Homeland problematic. He says, “It’s a complete inaccurate description of the Middle East and the Far East and the wider region. It shows every Muslim or every Arab who appears in the series as a terrorist, basically…In a case like Homeland, when it’s really degrading people and cultures…we should try and look a little bit beyond entertainment and also see the political messages that are transported on TV.” The graffitied messages (in Arabic) included, “Homeland is Racist,” “There is no Homeland,” and “#BlackLivesMatter.”
This clip was created by AJ+, a digital news, politics, and current events channel by Al Jazeera Media Network.
What stereotypes about Muslims and Arabs are frequently perpetuated in popular movies and television shows created in the United States? Why does this matter?
How are the terms Muslim and Arab commonly confused? Are all Muslims Arab? Are all Arabs Muslim?
What countries make up the Middle East? How are they represented in movies and television?
According to the artists, the producers of this show just wanted Arabic letters and words on the walls of their television show set and said they did not care about what was written. Why do you think they didn’t care about or check to see what was written on the walls? How does this instance show how the producers think about the Arabic language? Who is the imagined audience of the show?