The Golden Globes, Homeland and Islamophobia

homeland-episode-9

I watched both seasons of Homeland, as gripping and exciting as both seasons are, I couldn’t help but feel disappointed that it is yet another film/TV Series that portrays the default image of Muslims as being terrorists. In the defence of the show, it does show the US Vice President as being a murderer who ordered drone strikes that killed 80 or so children, but the damages the show would do for the image of an everyday Muslim living a normal life is overshadow any depiction of fairness or balance of the real narrative.

It is with a lot of accuracy that Laila Al Arian describes the show as “TV’s most Islamophobic show“.

I like Damian Lewis who plays Sergeant Brody, the Muslim, Vice Presidential candidate nominee and secret terrorist. I posted a facebook link to Damian Lewis being interviewed by Jonathan Ross where he says that he did not want the film to make ‘lazy’ comparisons between  Islam and violence, and instead Islam could be a force for good that sustains him. As noble as Lewis’s thoughts may have been, I am reluctant to feel that Homeland succeeds in doing that. I did the mistake of posting the YouTube link on facebook before actually watching the show.

Homeland has been featuring in my facebook feed for sometime now and many have been watching it. My worry is that it will reinforce the wrong and lazy assertion that the average Muslims, for all their average activities are usually closet terrorists.

The Golden Globe awards that concluded a few days ago have been an endorsement of a rancid American foreign policy in the Middle East and the Film Industry has yet again proved to be the preferred apparatus of US foreign policy to set the stage for future operations.

Rachel Shabi notes in The Guardian about the Golden Globes-

The three winners have all been sold as complex, nuanced productions that don’t shy away from hard truths about US foreign policy. And liberal audiences can’t get enough of them. Perhaps it’s because, alongside the odd bit of self-criticism, they are all so reassuringly insistent that, in an increasingly complicated world, America just keeps on doing the right thing. And even when it does the wrong thing – such as, I don’t know, torture and drone strikes and deadly invasions – it is to combat far greater evil, and therefore OK.

I am inclined to side with Rachel wholeheartedly.

If Homeland did one good thing to sustain my faith it is this – Brody recites a prayer after Abu Nazeer is killed, in thankfulness that his life is now returning to normal, he recites this outside Carrie’s family holiday camping home, I had forgotten this prayer, I must say I say it a lot now. If not for anything, I am thankful to Homeland for this.

وَقَالُواْ ٱلۡحَمۡدُ لِلَّهِ ٱلَّذِى هَدَٮٰنَا لِهَـٰذَا وَمَا كُنَّا لِنَہۡتَدِىَ لَوۡلَآ أَنۡ هَدَٮٰنَا ٱللَّهُ‌ۖ

And they say: The praise to God, Who has guided us to this. We could not truly have been led aright if God had not guided us. (A’raf : 43)

Image from here

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6 Comments

Filed under 2013, Film, Islam, Uncategorized

6 responses to “The Golden Globes, Homeland and Islamophobia

  1. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I couldn’t bear watching Homeland after about half of one episode. It wasn’t the Islamophobia so much as the phobia (in general) that I found both boring and irritating. Here were these top-quality actors forced to constantly, unrelentingly portray tension and paranoia. I just don’t believe that anyone can live in such constant fear and wound so tightly without experiencing a physical shutdown, heart attack, stroke or suicide. The editing was showy and artificial and so were the performances. It wasn’t remotely convincing to me, and the minimum requirement for a drama is to provide suspension of disbelief.

    • Raashid Riza

      I do agree with you partially, some of that which you say is irrelevant to what I have written therefore I tend not to have an opinion. Yes, on what I agree with you – there were far too many twists in Homeland, enough to at time allure artificially to the desire the human mind has for suspense. I trust this element of artificiality is more prevalent in TV series’ than in films. On the substance of the matter that you speak of in terms of acting and the script, I agree with you. Thanks.

  2. I think you need to step back from the paranoia that everything that has Muslim terrorists in it is Islamaphobic. Homeland is basically an espionage plot. If it was produced in the ’70s or ’80s, Brody would have been a Soviet double agent. It’s just using the most easily available enemy. Not every piece of entertainment has to be some deep learning experience in which every facet must be included. I thought the first season was top class and the second not as good.

    • Raashid Riza

      I think we both are looking at Homeland from entirely different viewpoints. You seem to be looking at it from an aesthetic point of view, where art has to make do with the resources, narratives and story lines at hand.

      I look at this more from the socio-political viewpoint as how a Muslim sees it. As a Muslim, the show misrepresents me and I have reason to take issue with that. It would be delusional to think that no member of the audience Homeland acquired now has a skewed perception of Muslims. The show gives the impression that Muslims may be the smiley faced friendly types on the outside, but they are plotting against you to kill you in secret.

      Whilst what you say may be right in terms of sustaining art and it’s narratives, I think it is successful as a piece of art but it is irresponsible from a socio-political angle and has the propensity to create more damage than repair existing damages.

  3. Thanks for the post. I agree with you wholeheartedly on the Islamaphobia, and with “Invisible Mikey” re. the glorification of paranoia (it serves the powerful very well to keep the disenfranchised – socio-economically, culturally – in a state of fear, preferably directed at some third party).

    With regard to this being simply the replacement of Soviet double-agents (a la “Son of the Morning Light,” there is one salient point you need to consider: did American paranoia regarding the Soviets lead to systematic, policy-driven discrimination against anybody of Russian origin living in the United States? The answer is, no. However, this kind of portrayal of Muslims does in fact circumscribe the lives of many Muslims on a daily basis.

    It is our choice to watch or not watch drivel on TV and, as I said in my post, (http://rufreeman.com/2013/01/nudity-in-the-homeland/), I won’t be watching the show. However, it is also our choice to condone – either silently or aloud – things that are morally contemptible.

    • Raashid Riza

      Can’t agree with you any further Ru, it is delusional to compare anti Muslim movies now to what happened during the cold war. Thank you for dropping by.

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