Nobody read the writing on the wall. Literally. The second episode of the fifth season of the American political thriller series Homeland, which has a huge fan following in India too, featured graffiti saying, among other things, “Homeland is racist” and “Homeland is a joke, and it didn't make us laugh”.
Why didn't anyone notice? Perhaps because the writing was not in English. A trio of artists famously known as the Arabian Street Artists was hired by the production team “to lend graffiti authenticity to a film set of a Syrian Refugee camp on the Lebanese/Syria border”. The group promptly took advantage to broadcast their criticism.
In one scene of the episode, Claire Danes, the star of the series, is seen walking past graffiti that reads, “Homeland is not a series.” Heba Amin, one of the artists from the group,thought this “hijack” would be their best chance to send their message to the world about what they consider misleading views of West Asia in the West.
“The show inaccurately portrays world events. This dangerous phantasm has become mainstream 'knowledge' in the U.S. and has been repeated as fact by many mass media outlets,” she wrote in a statement on her website. “What’s wrong with Homeland’s political message? The very first season of Homeland explained to the American public that Al Qaida is actually an Iranian venture,” she added.
This isn’t the first time Homeland has been criticised for getting facts wrong. The second season showed Beirut’s Hamra district as a hub of terrorists, equipped with lethal machine guns. Hamra is, fact, a peaceful and cosmopolitan place.
After this graffiti “hijack”, show-runner Alex Gansa released a statement the following day to Deadline, “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.”
That's one way of making the best of a bad deal.