Adonis Diaries

Archive for November 19th, 2016

“Arabian Street Artists” Bomb Homeland

What’s wrong with Homeland’s political message?

The very first season of “Homeland” explained to the American public that Al Qaida is actually an Iranian venture.

According to the storyline, they are not only closely tied to Hezbollah, but Al Qaida even sought revenge against the US on behalf of Iran.

This dangerous phantasm has become mainstream ‘knowledge’ in the US and has been repeated as fact by many mass media outlets.

Five seasons later, the plot has come a long way, but the thinly veiled propaganda is no less blatant.

Now the target is freedom of information and privacy neatly packaged as the threat posed by Whistleblowers, the Islamic State and the rest of Shia Islam.

Andrew Bossone shared this link

Brilliant. “In their eyes, Arabic script is merely a supplementary visual that completes the horror-fantasy of the Middle East, a poster image dehumanizing an entire region to human-less figures in black burkas and moreover, this season, to refugees.

The show has thus created a chain of causality with Arabs at its beginning and as its outcome- their own victims and executioners at the same time.

As was briefly written on the walls of a make-believe Syrian refugee camp in a former Futterphosphatfabrik (animal feed plant) in the outskirts of Berlin, the situation is not to be trusted.”

In the summer of 2015, the American television serial “Homeland” was shot in Berlin. June and July saw parts of the city dedicated to capturing the doings of former CIA Agent Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) in her new role as security advisor to a German humanitarian oligarch, Otto Düring (Sebastian Koch).

Amidst hints of a hacker conspiracy and secret agreements between the US and Germany, the show attempts to mirror real-life events with an Edward Snowden-style leak revealing a joint project by the CIA and the BND (German Federal Intelligence Service) illegally spying on German citizens. But unlike real life, this leak forced Germany to release all arrested ISIS terrorists.

The series has garnered the reputation of being the most bigoted show on television for its inaccurate, undifferentiated and highly biased depiction of Arabs, Pakistanis, and Afghans, as well as its gross misrepresentations of the cities of Beirut, Islamabad- and the so-called Muslim world in general. For four seasons, and entering its fifth, “Homeland” has maintained the dichotomy of the photogenic, mainly white, mostly American protector versus the evil and backwards Muslim threat.

The Washington Post reacts to the racist horror of their season 4 promotional poster by describing it as “white Red Riding Hood lost in a forest of faceless Muslim wolves”. In this forest, Red Riding Hood is permitted to display many shades of grey – bribery, drone strikes, torture, and covert assassination- to achieve her targets. She points her weapon of choice at the monochrome bad guys, who do all the things that the good guys do, but with nefarious intent.

It cannot be disputed that the show looks good and is well acted and produced, as its many awards prove. But you would think that a series dealing so intensively with contemporary topics including the war on terrorism, ISIS, and ideological clashes between the US and the Middle East would not, for example, name a key terrorist character after the former real-life Pakistani ambassador to the United States.

Granted, the show gets high praise from the American audience for its criticism of American government ethics, but not without dangerously feeding into the racism of the hysterical moment we find ourselves in today. Joseph Massad, Associate Professor of Modern Arab Politics and Intellectual History at Columbia University, addresses this deep-seeded racism of American media towards the Middle East: “‘Homeland’ hardly deviates from this formula [of racist programming], except to add that Arabs are so dangerous that even all-American White men can be corrupted by them and become equally dangerous to America”.

At the beginning of June 2015, we received a phone call from a friend who has been active in the Graffiti and Street art scene in Germany for the past 30 years and has researched graffiti in the Middle East extensively.

He had been contacted by “Homeland’s” set production company who were looking for “Arabian street artists” to lend graffiti authenticity to a film set of a Syrian refugee camp on the Lebanese/Syrian border for their new season. Given the series’ reputation we were not easily convinced, until we considered what a moment of intervention could relay about our own and many others’ political discontent with the series. It was our moment to make our point by subverting the message using the show itself.

ArabianStreetArtists1 ArabianStreetArtists2
Left: Homeland is NOT a series (al watan mesh mosalsal)
Right: Top: we didn’t resist, so he conquered us riding on a donkey; bottom: The situation is not to be trusted; left: This show does not represent the views of the artists (photos courtesy of the artists)

ArabianStreetArtists3 ArabianStreetArtists4
Left: Freedom (horeya) in 3-D!
Right: Homeland is watermelon (al watan bateekh) (watermelon is a word often used to indicate that something is a sham or not to be taken seriously) (photos courtesy of the artists)

ArabianStreetArtists5 ArabianStreetArtists6
Left: There is no Homeland (mafeesh Homeland)
Right: #blacklivesmatter (photos courtesy of the artists)

ArabianStreetArtists7 ArabianStreetArtists8
Left: Falafel and Alcohol: from the hands of Faiza
The falafel stand belongs to an elderly lady named Faiza, a Syrian Christian who has seen a lot of life, and lived in a multicultural society for much of it.

She has understood that good food and an occasional drop of Arak solve many problems, and although she sells only falafel and hummus, she added alcohol as a visual reminder of the better times, an act of resistance to her current circumstances and a premonition of a return to the life she once knew and enjoyed, even through hardships. She is well-liked in the neighbourhood, and although her sign does mention Alcohol, it also brings smiles to the residents of the camp.
Right: right: against the red, blue and purple devil (A Muslim Brotherhood reference made by an Egyptian general on Television in 2013)
left: Homeland is a joke, and it didn’t make us laugh
(photos courtesy of the artists)

Homeland is racist
#gasewsew (a reference to the Egyptian Abla Fahita puppet on spying) (photos courtesy of the artists)

In our initial meeting, we were given a set of images of pro-Assad graffiti- apparently natural in a Syrian refugee camp. Our instructions were:

(1) the graffiti has to be apolitical

(2) you cannot copy the images because of copyright infringement

(3) writing “Mohamed is the greatest, is okay of course”.

We would arm ourselves with slogans, with proverbs allowing for critical interpretation, and, if the chance presented itself, blatant criticism directed at the show. And so, it came to be.

The set decoration had to be completed in two days, for filming on the third. Set designers were too frantic to pay any attention to us; they were busy constructing a hyper-realistic set that addressed everything from the plastic laundry pins to the frayed edges of outdoor plastic curtains. It looked very Middle Eastern and the summer sun and heat helped heighten that illusion.

The content of what was written on the walls, however, was of no concern. In their eyes, Arabic script is merely a supplementary visual that completes the horror-fantasy of the Middle East, a poster image dehumanizing an entire region to human-less figures in black burkas and moreover, this season, to refugees.

The show has thus created a chain of causality with Arabs at its beginning and as its outcome- their own victims and executioners at the same time.

As was briefly written on the walls of a make-believe Syrian refugee camp in a former Futterphosphatfabrik (animal feed plant) in the outskirts of Berlin, the situation is not to be trusted- الموضوع فيه أن.

The Arabian Street Artists //
Heba Amin
Caram Kapp

* Our intervention was broadcast on October 11, 2015, “Homeland” Season 5, Episode 2.

1001 calamities (Alf nila w’ nila)

Repetition teaches Bashar (A play on Repetition teaches the Donkey, homar, which rhymes with Bashar)

Ready to die (nemoot)

Homeland is racist

Homeland is racist (photo courtesy of Showtime)

The disequilibrium of the world

No powerful nation (huge trade) ever repaid its sovereign debt.

By Dr. Gustave Le Bon (Le desiquilibre du monde, 1924)

All modern warfare are as ruinous to the victors as to the vanquished.

The cost of the warfare is shared by all the people of the belligerent countries regardless of which State wins and who loses.

Rationally, the neighbouring nations have direct interest to associate in order to prevent the escalation of a situation of declaring war.

Fact is, it is the people who encourage the escalation to a state of war as the government start contemplating or discussing a military alternative.

As the war begins, the people realize too late that their initial emotional tendencies were wrong and they feel that they have to resume what they asked for.

In 1918, Germany barely paid a small fraction of its war indemnities. It purposely devalued its paper currency to almost zero and got away with repayment of war reparation.

England and the USA wanted Germany to go back to full production on its intact industrial infrastructure because they trade most with Germany big market.

The 12% tax on Germany export, which was paid to the Allied fund, was actually paid for by the importing people, or the victors.

A British minister had this to say:

“If Germany could repay its total debts of war reparation on exportation in the coming decades, Germany would become the main exporter in the world market. In the meantime, all the other nations, including the USA, would witness a sharp decline in their trade and the loss of their essential industries”

In 1945, Germany and Japan were the countries that enjoyed most of the investment by the USA in order to benefit from their economic recovery.

No powerful nation (huge trade) ever repaid its sovereign debt.

Only the weak and underdeveloped States are pressured to repay their debts.

The USA is by far the most indebted nation on earth, but just pay the ridiculous lowest interest rates.

Colonization was carried out on the basis of defaulting on a debt.

The USA invaded and occupied Cuba, the Philippines, Panama… in order to recover its debts from Spain.

The best maxim that could transform the world “Aid one another for your proper interest”

The global commercial and financial interdependence are the main barriers for a direct full fledge world war. Soft power is being applied to its hilt in order to avoid frontal conflict.

The main security for sustainable state of peace is in the psychological mind of the people.

And this mind has to be acquired by sustained refrain from exercising military warning dictated by the powerful States  on the weaker nations.

A mind-set for peace is a nurturing process that require long-term stable peaceful policies by diplomatic means and win-win business projects among the nations.

Folly of follies: Worshipping illusions

Mankind learned to fear and abhor death when he invented the notion of liquid currencies or money.

Mankind began to worship killing other humans when he realized that it generated quick money.

In no period of history worship was Not associated with killing one another, creating the notion of the sacrificial lamb, the collateral damages of the destitute, the downtrodden, the ignored, the unknown.

Worshipping is the pure definition of believing in a set of illusions and myths.

We believe in a God, a cultist system, the Nation, the Money, the Army, the Banks, artificial wealth not backed by readily exchangeable goods and services…

Mankind will keep worshipping any one of these fiction realities, even if half of mankind is slaughtered or trampled.

Only taking care of our daily tasks keeps us sane for the duration.

The folly of follies is when we indulge in maniacal routine daily tasks to avert the imminence of folly.

Task like constant dusting, frequent re-arranging furniture, cataloguing and ordering what we possess…

This Achievement Beard?

Beards of young people and out of jobs don’t count.

There are criteria to adhere to Achievement Beard.

Trimmed edges and untrimmed everything else.

Achievement beard is by definition low-maintenance.


Projects its wearer’s public image.

A modest way of underscoring what few people would dare to miss.

A marker of triumphant lassitude

A photograph of the retired David Letterman has been making the rounds recently.

The photo shows the former late-night host stalking the street in khakis and a floppy long-sleeved shirt. The shirt has one enormous pocket.

Letterman displays a deep, soul-summoning gaze. His hair, now gray and cropped close to his skull, stands in a victorious V of a widow’s peak.

His eyes seem scrutinous and feral, as if spiritually unnourished by the generous appeasements of a CBS pension.

He looks like someone who wants to sell you yak-wool sweaters for extreme weather, or a chapbook of his own apocalyptic poems.

Most of all, he looks unshaven. Letterman now wears a wide and woolly beard.

Andrew Bossone shared this link

My wife wants me to shave my beard. Perhaps I haven’t achieved enough.

The achievement beard—a marker of triumphant lassitude, the victory lap after a long job well done—has been gaining currency in recent years among men who might like to move through the world noticeably unnoticed.

It has become standard issue for an entertainer on the comedown from a high-intensity career.

Stephen Colbert donned a seaworthy achievement beard during the nine-month hiatus between his first show and his new post in Letterman’s stead.

And Jon Stewart has been growing one since stepping down from “The Daily Show,” in August.

Yet it doesn’t take a lengthy television run to grow a beard, and similar adornments have been cropping up to mark a range of distinguished endeavors.

The retired soccer star David Beckham was recently seen sporting an achievement beard.

Al Gore famously grew one a while back, apparently to mark the achievement of no longer having to run for office. The beard is a self-presented lifetime-achievement award, a modest way of underscoring what few people would dare to miss.

Exactly how is this beard unlike all other beards? The achievement beard, in length and vigor, occupies a place above James Franco but below Chester Arthur.

It is not to be confused with the recently popular baseball beard, or with the performative crazy beard, or with the hipster beard, which marks no achievement at all.

It is not a bohemian power beard, as worn by ZZ Top or The New Yorker ’s own Richard Brody, and it also shouldn’t be confused with the beard of disaffection, à la Ted Kaczynski, or James Mason during his cross period. (You forgot Extreme Islamists beard)

Rather than saying, “I have given up on the world,” the achievement beard declares, “I am away, but not gone.” (Hence its popularity among showmen at leisure.)

It holds none of the freewheeling, Manson-like menace of the “Joy of Sex” beard, but it’s not too fussy, either.

(Note Letterman’s trimmed edges and untrimmed everything else.) It must never be something that eight minutes of shaving can’t undo. If there’s wax involved, the beard has ceased to mark achievement; it is now a beard of solipsism.

The achievement beard is definitionally low-maintenance

The overtones of the achievement beard are plain. Most examples have a way of growing out to regal length: Colbert’s beard most closely resembled that of King George V.

Most, too, are grey; an achievement-style beard on someone of youth and of moot accomplishment looks strange. (Consider the disturbing beards of Brad Pitt.)

Occasionally, a longstanding avocational beard may become an achievement beard, the way that lifelong writing hobbyists sometimes turn into acclaimed writers (the Frank McCourt of beards).

Generally, though, the achievement beard is notable not because it projects its wearer’s public image but because it doesn’t. The achievement-bearded Letterman is unlike the Letterman we know.

So which Letterman is the “real” Letterman, bearded or unbearded?

Would the bearded man even exist were it not for the ascent of his clean-shaven counterpart?

Such ontological questions confound the mind, but it is possible to solve them using diagrams.

Let us first draw a time x-axis and a spatial y-axis.

Next, let us plot the path of Unbearded David Letterman zigzagging rightward from Indiana to the majestic Ed Sullivan Theatre. Our starting premise is that Letterman remained continually unbearded all this time, but do we know that to be true?

Conceivably, Letterman might have grown a beard at some point along the way—a weekend, say—and shaved it before returning to the airwaves. (Maybe he even grew one beard, shaved it off due to familial teasing, and then, defiantly, grew another beard, a thing known to happen during months of underemployment.)

To take probabilistic account of the various beard-growing possibilities, known and unknown, we must diagram all beard-and-shaving paths and subject them to complex arithmetic.

In the course of drawing these diagrams, however, we will have a curious realization, which is that a bearded Letterman is the same as a shaving Letterman travelling backward in time. (Whoa.)

This complicates the calculations, but it also introduces certain beautiful properties of beardedness. For one thing, we can conclude that the fact of Unbearded Letterman does indeed produce the possibility of Bearded Letterman. Also, if the Bearded and Unbearded Lettermans ever meet, they will annihilate each other and produce a photon. (This has never been experimentally confirmed.)

With such questions resolved, it is possible to make accurate predictions about the beard of Stephen Colbert and, in fact, all beards in the known universe. It also helps to explain certain paradoxes of achievement-beard causality, including Sean Connery.

When Connery grew his achievement beard, in 1975, he was chiefly known for action films, including “Zardoz.” But then his beard appeared, and his career as a serious actor took off. Was this coincidence? Or was it fate? To paraphrase Matthew McConaughey—recently seen in facial hair of uncertain motives—your present achievement matches the future beard of your past self.

There is, of course, a big problem with the semiotics of the achievement beard, which is that women cannot grow it. Does this mean that it’s a redoubt of the patriarchy? Yes, clearly.

Possibly in roundabout solidarity with the cause of equality, or maybe merely in defiance of such laurels, certain men throughout the ages have de-bearded at the moment of their greatest triumph. Consider Henry James, who went bald in all directions during his late years.

Or take a look at the Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, who, though sporting an achievement-like beard at the outset of his corporate ride, now proudly bares his sixty-two-year-old cheeks to the elements. Such examples are heroic.

Aspiring high achievers might be wise to heed them.

This summer, Jack Dorsey, the interim head of Twitter, made news when he appeared on television with a very strange, long beard. The circumstances were misaligned enough to make the beard’s intent mysterious—it was presented in the style of an achievement beard, but what was the achievement?—and the beard was misaligned enough to make Dorsey’s head look frighteningly crescentic.

This week, at last, he was named permanent C.E.O., and the beard appears to be in remission. Good for both of them.

The last fact of the achievement beard may be the most unfair: there’s always something more to do before it’s truly earned.





November 2016

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