Homeland is a Watermelon

October 27, 2015

Television preachers dominate our lives. I don't mean the televangelists like Pat Robertson, John "blood moons" Hagee, or others with gaudy gold-painted sets. Each TV show - from a shouting cable news show to a hit network drama - preaches. TV shows give us a vision of the world, shaping our attitudes and beliefs. And often that vision is quite inaccurate.

In an age of the HD gospel, prophets are needed to break through the noise and glow. Fortunately, three artists recently accepted the calling. Like the prophets of the Old Testament, they used a clever and showy demonstration to offer a needed condemnation. 

During the second episode of this season of the TV show Homeland, numerous Arabic graffiti statements could be seen the background as actors walked around what was supposed to be a refugee camp. The problem is that no one on the show checked to see what the three graffiti artists they hired had sprayed. Upset by the racist and inaccurate portrayals of Arabs on the show, the artists painted protest messages throughout the set. These messages actually appeared on the show when it aired this month!
Homeland is racist
The situation is not to be trusted
This show does not represent the views of the artists
There is no Homeland
Homeland is a joke, and it didn’t make us laugh
Another declared "Homeland is watermelon," which is apparently slang for something that is a sham. The artists shared their messages after the show aired.

After the release of the images - and screenshots from the show of the stars walking past the critiques of the show - the graffiti sparked international headlines. In a CNN.com column the three prophetic artists explained their "hack." They pointed out that the fact that none of the "experts" on the show noticed the messages helps prove how the show fails to consider the perspectives and realities of Arabs. 

"Our ability to achieve what we did could not have accentuated our point more beautifully," the spray-painting prophets correctly said. 

Had they merely criticized the show in a statement, it would have received little attention. But with their critique beautifully embedded within the show, they helped sparked international discussion about the show and Hollywood's overall problematic stereotyping of Arabs.

This is the work of a prophet: creatively casting a message that helps people finally see the problem of the dominant empire. Thus, Old Testament scholar Walter Brueggemann calls the prophets artists and poets. With prophetic imagination, they seek to break the silence, say the unsayable, think the unthinkable, and imagine the unimaginable.

As Simon & Garfunkel told us: "The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls..." And now on a TV set.