by Joe Scarry
|From NPR: “Artists say they took jobs painting graffiti on the set of Homeland
to leave subversive messages. They say this one reads, ‘Homeland is racist.'”
ITEM ONE: This past week it was disclosed that activists “hacked” the show Homeland by inserting Arabic graffiti saying “Homeland is racist” on one of the show’s sets, so that the message was seen by millions of viewers. (See “The latest twist in Homeland’s racist plot: the realistic graffiti episode” in The Guardian.)
The official response from the show? “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.” Hmmm . . ..
ITEM TWO: By some miraculous coincidence, today’s New York Times “Style” section features a long interview with the star of Homeland, Claire Danes, together with (!) the actual Secretary of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson. (See “‘Homeland’ Times Two: Claire Danes and Jeh Johnson”)
(“JJ: It’s through movies and TV that social issues become norms. . . . Bu more people havelearned about targeted lethal killing from Claire than me.” More on this later . . . . )
What are we supposed to think about this?
There couldn’t be a better illustration of the way our pervasive entertainment culture dominates our apprehension of the reality of our times.
Many of us who consider ourselves activists for peace and justice frequently criticize mainstream media, particularly mainstream news reporting. But I think that misses the point. Most people are floating on far more escapist clouds of entertainment.
What would it take to connect our entertainment culture back to reality? (Just a little?)
What would it look like if large numbers of people used their knowledge of the world, and of ethics, and their critical faculties, to think about and discuss and write about the questions raised by shows like Homeland?
I recently wrote that “the means available to us today for eliminating war vary greatly from those available from those working to eliminate war in decades past.” One of those means is popular literature and film!
I often refer to how important the films of Iran have been in helping me open my mind to the possibilities of a peaceful relationship with that country. I have been fortunate to be able to go see some of the best films from Iran every year at the wonderful Siskel Film Center in downtown Chicago. The will be another Festival of Films From Iran showing there in February, 2016.