Former Minnesota student pulls off ‘Homeland is racist’ protest

Showtime’s “Homeland” has long been criticized for Islamophobic stereotypes. “In just a few steps, the show has neatly stitched together all the current bogeymen of U.S. foreign policy,” filmmaker Laura Durkay said last year as the show got more and more critical acclaim from the Hollywood press.

Now, a group of artists, including a former Minnesota college student, has exacted some revenge.

Hired by the show’s producers to paint graffiti on a set that portrayed a fictional Syrian refugee camp, the artists used the opportunity to protest the show on the show.

Nobody, apparently, ever checked what the graffiti, painted by Heba Y. Amin and two other artists, actually said.

“It was our moment to make our point by subverting the message using the show itself,” Amin, who got her MFA from the University of Minnesota and is a 2002 grad of Macalester, told the New York Times.

It said, “Homeland is not a series.”

Photo: Heba Y. Amin, Caram Kapp and Stone.

and “Homeland is racist.”

Photo: Heba Y. Amin, Caram Kapp and Stone.

Other messages included “Homeland is a joke, and it didn’t make us laugh” and “#blacklivesmatter.”

“In our initial meeting, we were given a set of images of pro-Assad graffiti- apparently natural in a Syrian refugee camp,” Amin writes on her blog. “Our instructions were: (1) the graffiti has to be apolitical (2) you cannot copy the images because of copyright infringement (3) writing ‘Mohamed is the greatest, is okay of course’. We would arm ourselves with slogans, with proverbs allowing for critical interpretation, and, if the chance presented itself, blatant criticism directed at the show. And so, it came to be.”

She and her colleagues had to keep their secret for months, until the show aired on Sunday night.

Amin, a visiting assistant professor at the American University in Cairo, told the Washington Post that she wasn’t too surprised nobody caught the “hack” because she knew there wasn’t much research or interest by the show to accurately depict the Muslim world.

“We wish we’d caught these images before they made it to air,” Homeland producer Alex Ganza said in a statement. “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.”

“Even better would be if the makers of ‘Homeland,’ and other shows like it, could read the writing on the wall,” New York Times arts blogger James Poniewozik countered.

(h/t: Curtis Gilbert)