Graffiti Artists Punk "Homeland" - a lesson for us all.

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by vrDrew, Oct 18, 2015.

  1. vrDrew macrumors 65816

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    #1
    In a recent episode of Showtime series Homeland, former CIA officer Carrie Matheson is escorted into a Syrian refugee camp. Amidst the rubble and wreckage, many of the walls were covered with graffiti.

    What was missed by most of those watching - as well as the producers - was literally the writing on the wall:

    [​IMG]

    Which apparently says "Homeland is Racist" in Arabic.

    Like many people who watch the show, I have distinctly mixed feelings about Homeland. Its plots seem to veer between tightly written, edge-of-your seat excitement - and ridiculous tropes.

    What is definitely true, is the fact that shows like Homeland (along with 24 and many others) play upon our fears and prejudices about the middle east, and about Islam in general.

    [​IMG]

    Claire Danes as a single white face amid a sea of black burkhas.
     
  2. sodapop1 Suspended

    sodapop1

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    #2
    What lesson is that? Is it that some people have absolutely no integrity? Regardless of what the artists felt about the show, they were hired to do a specific job not to make political statements.

    Imagine if an illiterate Jewish man, who can't read or write, walked into a Palestinian bakery and asked them to bake a birthday cake for his daughter and for the message on the cake to read "Happy Birthday XXXX". Only the Palestinian baker decides to put the phrase "Die You Jewish Scum" on the cake.

    If the artists had such animosity towards the show, they should have never agreed to do the work.
     
  3. vrDrew thread starter macrumors 65816

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    What is up with people and bakeries? Seriously, when did the front lines of modern political and social discourse move from the op-ed pages and ballot boxes to the cake store? When did the protest banner and leaflet manifesto get replaced by an icing bag?

    The lesson is this: We here in the West are all too easily gulled into accepting a vision of Islamic culture that it is inherently foreign - the unintelligible, unfathomable otherness. One that can never be understood, never be trusted, and never reasoned with.

    I like Homeland as a TV show. But I'm keenly aware that the message that it, and shows like it (24, Strikeback, etc.) are quietly inculcating into our social consciousness the message that the nations and cultures of south and southwest asia are altogether alien worlds, one where even an educated, dynamic, and fearless CIA officer - with access to the tremendous assets of the US military-intelligence community - proceeds at her peril.

    That is fundamentally untrue and unfair. So, yes: Homeland is racist.
     
  4. Renzatic Suspended

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    #4
    It happened around the time Joe the plumber retired.
     
  5. Happybunny macrumors 68000

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    I think that you are taking this a bit to seriously.

    If the makers of the show can see the funny side.;)



    http://mashable.com/2015/10/15/homeland-is-racist-graffiti/#t1X2w5gtXuqN
     
  6. sodapop1 Suspended

    sodapop1

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    That is not the lesson here. This article is about how artists who were hired by a company to do one thing but instead decided to make coded political statements. I have never watched Homeland but even if it is a racist show and promotes islamaphobia, two wrongs don't make a right. Just because you may agree with the political statements of the artists, what the artists did was simply wrong and disgraceful.
     
  7. sodapop1 Suspended

    sodapop1

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    #7
  8. Happybunny macrumors 68000

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    #8
    No you are wrong, bombing hospitals is a disgraceful act, subverting artwork is at it's worst vandalism.
     
  9. vrDrew thread starter macrumors 65816

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    If you hire a graffiti artist - what do you think you are going to get? If you want conventional people, who play by the rules, hire a portrait artist. Or a house painter.

    The whole point of street art is that it doesn't play by the rules. That it is disrespectful of boundaries and conventions.

    Personally, I think it says a lot about the authenticity of Homeland, that there was no one on set - either in front of of or behind the camera in that scene, who could read and point out the message.
     
  10. sodapop1 Suspended

    sodapop1

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    Sure and mentality like that is exactly why we can never have peace in the world. People justifying their wrongful acts because of wrongful acts committed by others.
     
  11. mactastic macrumors 68040

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    As opposed to someone who is hired to dispense marriage licenses but instead decided to make a political statement?
     
  12. vrDrew, Oct 18, 2015
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2015

    vrDrew thread starter macrumors 65816

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    But that absolutely is not the case here.

    The graffiti artists didn't spray paint الوطن عنصري (Homeland is racist) onto a public subway wall or the back of a Wal-Mart. They spray painted onto the set of the very television program whose message they meant to protest. And they did it with the paying acquiescence of the producers who - in truth - really didn't want anything more than some frightening looking arabic squiggles, to convey the sense of alienness and unintelligibility of the community they were portraying.

    At the very least, the producers were guilty of indifference to the world they were showing so unflatteringly. And, I suspect, the next time they come to portray an Arab (or Pakistani, or Iranian, or Thai) setting - they will at least go to the effort of asking their hired graffiti artists to come up with a specific message. And hire cultural and language people to make sure they get what they paid for.

     
  13. sodapop1 Suspended

    sodapop1

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    #13
    I agree with you, I don't support what she did.
     
  14. sodapop1 Suspended

    sodapop1

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    #14
    Sure, the producers may very well have deserved to be ridiculed but there are ways to go about that without sacrificing one's professional integrity.
     
  15. vrDrew thread starter macrumors 65816

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    Write a letter to the New York Times?

    Seriously, I think what those artists did was brilliant.

    The producers can't sue them for shoddy work, or breach of contract: They got exactly what they paid for. The producers can't charge the artists with defacing company property. And the thing is - the producers know that, and have acknowledged as much. And will probably take that into account in future productions.

    More to the point: Who was hurt here? As a viewer, and theoretical customer of Showtime and Homeland, I certainly don't feel "hurt." A little shamed, because I too am ignorant enough of Arabic culture. But I wholeheartedly applaud their actions.

    What, in your opinion, would have been a more effective way of getting across their message?
     
  16. mactastic macrumors 68040

    mactastic

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    Personally I feel like if the director didn't care enough to sweat the details like what the graffiti on the wall says, they get what they deserve when someone pranks them.

    I can't imagine anyone getting away with this if, say, Kubrick was directing.
     
  17. sodapop1 Suspended

    sodapop1

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    Sure, after everyone is done laughing, the question is whether or not people will be hesitant to hire these artists out of fear that they might do something similar to them.

    A more effective venue to get out the message about how racist the show is would be something like SNL doing a skit mocking the show.
     
  18. vrDrew thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #18


    But that wasn't really a venue available to the Berlin-based artists.

    One of the functions of art is to make the viewer ask themselves questions. What was the Mona Lisa thinking when Leonardo painted her?
    [​IMG]
    What was behind that smile? Happiness? Contentment. Boredom?

    What was Warhol saying about mid 20th century American mass-consumerism?
    [​IMG]
    What was Banksy saying about 21st century Britain?
    [​IMG]

    The Homeland graffiti artists accomplished the same thing. They made me, and probably a million other fat and happy Americans, sitting in smug judgement of every Arab culture in the world - recognize one thing:

    [​IMG]

    You know NOTHING, Jon Snow
     
  19. shinji macrumors 65816

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    Homeland is the most exciting and well-written show on TV.

    Fundamentally untrue? It's fiction, and like any other show, they use artistic license to make it more entertaining.

    They're depicting the subset of the Islamic world that is relevant to a spy thriller. They are not suggesting all Muslims are terrorists or support terror (Fara and the medical student guy, for example). And they do even show a human side to some of the terrorists:

    Abu Nazir's concern for his son, Haqqani treating Saul with some dignity and respect as his prisoner, and even Javadi was kinda likable, despite what he was responsible for.

    As for being unfair...if in Season 4 Carrie had walked through a nice area of Islamabad/Karachi/etc. with shops and restaurants, would that have served any purpose whatsoever in the story, especially with what happened very early in that season? Sure, it would have been a more fair depiction, but viewers needed the sense that she, Quinn, etc. were in danger, even if it means depicting the area as worse than it really is.
     
  20. FieldingMellish Suspended

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    TV and movie lovers reading Intermet Movie Database (IMDB) are aware of a section called Goofs. (Usually underneath Trivia) It's the rare show that gets away clean without something being written in Goofs, whether it's minor or a fiasco.
     
  21. vrDrew thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #21
    I get what you're saying.

    But I think what the graffiti artists (and others) are saying is that there is no other context through which we view the Islamic world other than that of this hostile, alien, unfathomable environment. If Homeland and the like were just part a broader picture - where we did see the fashionable stores and middle-class lives of people in Karachi and Dubai - then it would be a little different.

    But its not: Its coming on the heels of fourteen years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan. The terror attacks of 9/11. Its coming on the heels of 24; and The Hurt Locker; and American Sniper; and Zero Dark Thirty, etc etc.

    Homeland itself has a little baggage. It was developed from an Israeli TV show Hatufim, about the return of Israeli prisoners of war captured years ago in Lebanon.

    The original Israeli series was highly regarded. But its also important to remember that most Israelis are intimately familiar with Arab culture and people. They are, quite literally, often their friends and neighbors. And so regardless of the actual violent conflict that arises in the region, the Israeli viewer is able to differentiate between the Arab terrorist - and the Arab who lives down the block. Much the same as the typical Brit can distinguish between the Germans he meets on vacation in Spain or Crete - from the Nazis who dropped bombs on his grandparents - or the Germans running Stalag Luft III on The Great Escape.

    We don't have that in the United States with regard to much of Islamic community. It is totally alien to us.

    I can read and understand a sign in German or Spanish saying "Achtung!" or "Peligro" and understand what it means. Even more complicated messages one can guess some of the meaning. But Arabic script of any description is totally meaningless to us.

    I'm not suggesting we all take up Arabic literacy classes. But I think the Homeland graffiti artists are asking us to question our assumptions about the Islamic world. And I don't think thats a bad thing for us to do.
     
  22. BoxerGT2.5 macrumors 68000

    BoxerGT2.5

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    #22
    Just another rung on the ladder of society becoming so hypersensitive/PC.
     
  23. miloblithe macrumors 68020

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    Wait, so they don't have anyone on the production team who speaks Arabic?
     
  24. BoxerGT2.5 macrumors 68000

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    #24

    This trend of painting someone with a broad brush is becoming tiresome if not nauseating. Someone who makes a critical comment about a man who happens to be black doesn't make him a racist. My not giving a rip about Bruce Jenner and wishing he/she would just go away (along with all his family) doesn't make me Transphobic. The time I called my ex-girlfriend in high school a bitch doesn't mean I hate all women. A TV show (drama) depicting a subset of a religion doesn't make everyone on the show "racist" or "islamaphobic". Back in the 1940's we didn't have to go tell all German's we don't have a problem with them, just the Nazi's. It was simply understood. 2015, you have to coddle all Muslims when we criticize the ones who like to strap bombs to themselves and blow **** up for fear someones feelings might get hurt. Why is it so hard to grasp that as long as your not the type to strap a bomb on your chest, you respect women and people of all religions in OUR country, we won't have a problem with you.
     
  25. jkcerda macrumors 6502

    jkcerda

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    #25
    nice post.

    [​IMG]the Crapdashians, ALL of them.
     

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