Anyone watching the second episode of the latest season of Homeland closely might have spotted a subversive message lurking in the background.
The episode, which aired in the U.S. on Sunday, saw former CIA agent Carrie Mathison visit a refugee camp on the Syria-Lebanon border. It was actually shot in Germany on a hyperrealistic set created on the site of a former animal-feed plant on the outskirts of Berlin, where much of the new season is centered.
However, the Arabic graffiti added to the walls of the camp actually criticized Showtime’s award-winning drama. One shot from the episode sees Mathison, played by Claire Danes, stride past a wall with the message “Homeland is racist.”
Three graffiti artists, Heba Amin, Caram Kapp and Stone, claimed in a statement that they were contacted by a friend who told them that Homeland‘s production company was looking for “Arabian street artists” to lend authenticity to the scenes.
Angered by the show’s political message, which has linked al-Qaida to Iran, its “highly biased” depictions of Arabs, Pakistanis and Afghans and its “gross misrepresentations of the cities of Beirut, Islamabad and the so-called Muslim world in general,” the trio said it decided to strike back. “It was our moment to make our point by subverting the message using the show itself,” they said.
Alongside “Homeland is racist,” other messages scrawled on the walls of the camp include: “There is NO Homeland,” “Homeland is watermelon” (a word often used in Arabic to indicate something shouldn’t be trusted), “Homeland is NOT a series,” “Homeland is a joke, and it didn’t make us laugh” and “Freedom … now in 3D.”
The group said they were told the messages were to be apolitical, but added that after those instructions, the set designers were “too frantic to pay any attention” to them.
The trio said, “The content of what was written on the walls was of no concern. In their eyes, Arabic script is merely a supplementary visual that completes the horror-fantasy of the Middle East.”