Homeland’s Alt-Right Season

SPOILER ALERT: If you plan on watching the latest season of Homeland (2011-) and don’t want to know anything about what happened, don’t read this.

homeland out is back in

Homeland just finished its sixth season and has already be renewed for a seventh and eighth, with a planned end to the storyline there. When the show began it was sold as the story of Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis), a U.S. Marine presumed to have been lost in action until he is found during a raid on a terrorist compound, after several years of brutal captivity. But the central character of the show has always been Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes), a C.I.A. intelligence genius who suffers from psychotic episodes. Carrie is the only one who suspects that Brody may have been compromised by the enemy, which turns out to be true. This doesn’t stop her from falling in love (lust, then love) with him, breaking up his marriage, and ultimately getting him killed. There are plenty more dramatic twists and turns, along with emotionally satisfying moments in the first three seasons, both realistic and unrealistic, but the Carrie-Brody love affair is the main throughline.

Season four was set in Pakistan, where we learned that the Pakistanis aren’t really our friends, and five was primarily in Berlin, where we learn that the sneaky Russians are still our enemies. Now, in season six, Carrie has come home to New York. No longer with, “The Agency,” she is a secret advisor to President Elect Keane (Elizabeth Marvel), who is opposed by some key players in the National Security establishment and elsewhere, who are will to do anything, including murder, to stop her. There is also a blow-hard, conspiracy theorist, compulsive liar of a talk show host, Brett O’Keefe (Jake Weber), endlessly complaining on his, “Real Truth,” program about how America is lost and Keane will destroy the Republic.

homeland real truth

My first reaction to the O’Keefe character was to recall Glenn Beck at his chalkboard, when he was still ranting on Fox News. But Beck now claims to regret the divisions he helped create in the American Electorate and he did not support The Donald, so he has fallen out of favor with much of the reactionary crowd he helped cultivate.

glenn beck chalkboard

Most people seem to see O’Keefe as an Alex Jones parody, though he never gets as loud and childishly angry as Jones does – and Jones’s Disinformation War followers were offended by this perceived attack on their phony hero from the get go. They, specifically, Paul Joseph Watson, writing on Jones’s website, laments the “fact” that:

The plots of earlier Homeland seasons were usually focused around Islamic terrorism, but in later series the show has kowtowed to political correctness and allowed social justice narratives to ruin the dynamism of what was once an enjoyable watch.

In truth, Homeland has always raised questions about the justness of American actions and the handling of the War on Terror (or whatever you want to call it). If that is something you want to lump under the all-purpose, and often meaningless phrase, “politically correctness,” so be it, but it’s nothing new. I have no idea what Watson thinks a, “social justice narrative,” is, since he gives no examples and puts no thought into that charge either, but I don’t see it anywhere in the show.

Watson, and many of the fans commenting on his article, also believe that the choice of a female President Elect proves, “how out of touch the producers [of Homeland] are with reality” (as if Trump won the popular vote or was somehow inevitable).

I think their real problem with the O’Keefe character is that he is too close to the real thing; a man willing to say and do anything to whip up the mob and murder truth for his own ends and perverted sense of self-importance. [Note: You can see more about Jones in my documentary, Conspiracy Theorists Lie (2015).]

alex jones on air

What I find disheartening is how much Homeland feeds into Alt-Right, conspiracy theorist paranoia; this season more than ever. By the end of the finale it is unclear who was/is in league with whom and if anyone can be trusted, including the new President. What is the real plan and to what end? Like so many shows, which I generally like, as shows (House of Cards (2013-) and 24 (2001-2010) come readily to mind), Homeland paints a very unreal and frightening vision of our government officials at work that is closely akin to the, “Deep State,” rhetoric of conspiracy wingnuts. One in which large numbers of public servants are ruthless to a fault and disinterested in morality, the rule of law, or anything outside their personal ambitions and sinister plots. My tinfoil head wearing critics scoff at me when I point out facts like this and come back with retorts like, “You’re so naive (or stupid) to think that government officials are all good and honest.” But that not what I’m saying. Not at all. I’m simply trying to put the faults of our government officials into a reasonable perspective. If America were actually such a pathetic, backstabbing, literarily murderous, Banana Republic, where vast numbers of bureaucrats and officers are constantly scheming to commit horrendous crimes and trample our Constitutional structures to the ground, then we would not be making up wild TV fantasies to entertain ourselves because we would be too busy living miserable lives and dying horribly in the nightmare clutches of a Police State.

Homeland keeps bring two classic films to mind for me: The Manchurian Candidate (1962) and Seven Days in May (1964). The first is about a communist plot to take over America, in which a soldier is brainwashed into becoming an assassin and the biggest anti-communist Senator turns out to be the real embodiment of the danger he has long been warning the people about. The second centers around a military coup, orchestrated by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, who believes the President is a “weak sister” and the nation needs to be saved from. If you haven’t see them, you should.

Homeland clearly borrows elements from these two films but it lacks the Kennedy Era sense of patriotism they champion. Homeland, like too many other shows and movies today, rarely seems to believe that America is an idea worth fighting for. Carrie is simply trying to stop terrorists from killing innocent people or trying to stop her friends from getting killed, and we’re just in it to see what Carrie will do next.

Episode 612

Trump: ‘Lynch em’

Most of the public’s attention recently has been focused on contempt for Donald Trump’s horrible treatment of women. A few Trumpets [Trump Idiots] have tried their desperate best to pretend that, “bad boy talk,” or, “locker room banter,” from eleven years ago is irrelevant, but the vast majority seems to know better. 1) We understand the difference between impolite remarks about a woman’s anatomy and bragging about how fun it is to molest women. 2) We have heard enough of Trump’s reckless disregard for others – from Mexicans and Muslims to women and POWs – to know that these comments from eleven years ago could have been made eleven minutes ago. Trump’s character is well known, deeply entrenched, and unlikely to change.

There is another story, however, that highlights an even sicker aspect of Trump’s soul and hasn’t received its fair share of attention. More than two decades ago a woman was brutally raped in New York’s Central Park while jogging at night. The woman was white and the five young men arrested for the crime were all black and Latino. Under pressure from the police and a disregard for the rights of the accused, all five defendants cracked and confessed to their involvement in the rape. They were later convicted based only on these false confessions. Many people were caught up in this emotional moment and their worst elements came to the surface in calls for something to be done. Donald Trump took out a full page newspaper ad calling for the return of the death penalty in New York and chose to make himself a very public face of the angry (white) body politic.

Documentarian Ken Burns captured the hysteria and tragedy of this case masterfully in The Central Park Five (2013), which is currently playing on Amazon Prime. I say “tragedy” because we now know beyond any reasonable doubt that all five defendants were wrongfully convicted, serving between five and thirteen years in prison, until DNA evidence completely exonerated them and the actual assailant, a convicted murder and serial rapist, was found. You would think this would be a cautionary tale and men like Trump would learn not to rush to judgement or let themselves be fueled by hate, but self reflection is clearly not The Donald’s strong suit. To this day he refuses to accept the facts and thinks the $40,000,000 New York paid out to these greatly abused citizens was an injustice. Donald’s judgements (i.e. feelings) are the only thing that matters in Donald’s mind.

When Trump speaks of, “Law and Order,” remember this case and realize what he is really saying. In another time, when you could get away with that kind of thing, he would have been the head of the lynch mob raining “justice” down upon these boys. His, “stop and frisk,” mentality is not only the wrong answer to our current problems, it is a Yuge reason why we have those problems in the first place. There is no intellectually honest way to spin it. This racist, sexist, buffoon of a conman, exemplifies everything that has held America back from being as great as it can possibly be.