LONDON (Reuters) - The background in the new series of U.S. TV hit “Homeland” is supposed to look like a Syrian refugee camp, but one of the graffiti slogans that CIA agent Carrie Mathison walks past declares, in Arabic: “Homeland is racist”.
Other scenes in the show, which aired in the United States this week, had walls covered with similarly pointed Arabic messages: “There is no Homeland”, “Homeland is not a show” and “Black lives matter”.
The graffiti were planted on the set of the show, which was filmed in Berlin this summer, by a German-based trio who call themselves the “Arabian Street Artists”.
Hired to make an area on the outskirts of Berlin look like a refugee camp in Lebanon, they took the opportunity to make a statement about the show’s depiction of U.S. intelligence efforts to thwart Middle Eastern terrorist plots.
After the show was aired on the Showtime network in the United States on Sunday, and their subterfuge passed undetected, the artists made public what they had done.
“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 Afghanistan, as well as its gross misrepresentations of the cities of Beirut, Islamabad -- and the so-called Muslim world in general,” the artists, Heba Amin, Caram Kapp and one who uses only the name Stone, said in a post on Amin’s website.
“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.”
Alex Gansa, co-creator of “Homeland”, said in a statement distributed by Showtime: “We wish we’d caught these images before they made it to air.”
But he added: ”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.”
Claire Danes has won two Emmys and two Golden Globes for her portrayal of agent Mathison, who struggles to do her job while afflicted with bi-polar disorder, but the show has been criticized for inaccuracies and accused of stereotyping in its depiction of the Middle East and Islamic culture.
Reporting by Michael Roddy; Editing by Mark Trevelyan