Muslim and Arab stereotypes are nothing new in American media. From Ali Baba to Aladdin, negative images have persisted in children’s stories. Then came 9/11 and Hollywood’s need for an all-purpose post-Cold War villain––and the stage was set for the universalized charicature of the terrorist. Regrettably, this year’s most celebrated television drama series, Homeland, is fueled largely by such xenophobic ideology, which it serves up with troubling representations of sexuality and race. And yes, Homeland is our beloved President’s favorite show. A wonderfully thorough discussion of these issues appears in the article “Homeland, Obama’s Show” appearing this week in Aljazeera.com.
For readers unaware of the program’s premise, Homeland is an updated Manchurian Candidate narrative about a brainwashed former Marine who becomes a congressman. As discussed in the Aljazeera.com article by Joseph Massad, “The racist representation of Arabs is so exponential, even for American television (and this is clearly the manifest effect of the Israeli Jewish identity of the show) that one does not know where to begin. It seems all Arab men have multiple wives so much so that a Washington-based Saudi diplomat and Al-Qaida contact (Mansour al-Zahrani) who is married to three wives and has ten children is declared by the Jewish Berenson to be “gay” on account of his frequenting a gay bath house in DC “every Thursday” (Al-Zahrani is shown to be making out with a black man at the bath house in CIA-obtained video footage). Just like American whiteness, which is always completely pure that only one drop of black blood makes an American black, American heterosexuality is equally pure, so much so that a once-a-week homosexual experience renders a man married to three women (and presumably has heterosexual sex with them for the rest of the week) “gay”! Clearly Arab society is so horrific that it forces gay men not only to marry one woman, but three!”