The terrorist drama is excellent television but its world view is bizarre
The first series of Homeland is over, and we now have to wait until the autumn for the second series. For some people, which may include myself, it is going to be a long hard summer.
Homeland is good. If you haven’t seen it, then a box DVD set would be the ideal present to yourself. But Homeland, like a lot of addictive substances, is not necessarily good for you. There are a few rather spooky things about it that I have noticed.
Firstly, everyone in it, or nearly everyone, is far too good looking. As one of the characters remarks, Brody’s wife is “hot”. Indeed, she is played by the uber-beautiful Morena Baccarin who is of Brazilian extraction. Now there is nothing wrong with an actress being beautiful, but I reckon that your average US Marine sergeant’s wife looks more like, well, a younger version of Hillary Clinton. Again, the house, the children, these are all too perfect. That house in particular – not an unwashed plate in sight. Then there is Brody himself. My friend Isabel, who would like to remain anonymous, said to me in serious tones: “There is no doubt that Damian Lewis is a very attractive man.” This is a great morale booster for redheads around the world, I am sure. But again, is it really necessary to give us such a feast of eye-candy? Isn’t all this subtly manipulating the viewer?
Lewis’s red hair, and his Christian name, and his good looks of course, as well as his thespianism, alerts me to the fact that he is obviously a Catholic. I can find no evidence of this online or elsewhere, but I am sure he is a Catholic, though he may well be lapsed. This gives piquancy to the recent revelation for the al-Qaeda bunker that Catholic Ireland is ripe for conversion to Islam. Brody is a convert to Islam, though his family is Church-going American Protestant. I have written about this before: this conversion seems too simple to me.
Again, would Brody agree to kill Americans to avenge the son of a terrorist, and show so little remorse about leaving his own family? In the end, it is the intervention of his daughter that saves him, but this familial tie kicks in at the eleventh hour. The idea that Brody, or anyone else for that matter, would care about the children of others, more than his own children, is bizarre.
And here is the point. In the worldview of this series, the children of others are more important. Little Issa counts more than the Brody son, whose judo match Brody can pass up in favour of blowing himself up. What I mean is this: this worldview constantly plays down the tie that binds us to our nearest and dearest, and constantly plays up our obligations to those we have never (or hardly ever) met. But in purely practical terms, we will always feel more bound to those we actually know and live with. The community that counts is the community know, and for most this will be the family. It won’t be distant peoples. Of course we should feel for distant peoples, and deplore their ill-treatment, but we are hardly likely to do this if we are indifferent to those closest, physically, to us.
We need to understand the parable of the Good Samaritan properly. The Good Samaritan helps the stranger, which is excellent. But it is my guess that he was someone who habitually helped all he met, particularly his own family and neighbours back in Samaria. In the same way the priest and Levite must have been habitually selfish people, rather than kind charitable types who just that once failed to live up to their habitual virtues.
The chipping away of natural ties, which can become channels of divine grace, is a habitual strategy of the anti-Christian Left.
Is Homeland anti-Christian? In this subtle sense, yes.
There is another subliminal message that the series carries. The great crime, the original sin, if you like, is the killing of the boy Issa, who happens to be the terrorist mastermind’s son. (The fact that the terrorist put his own son in danger by his choice to be a terrorist, is very fleetingly touched on.) The name Issa, as most people will know, is the name given to the character in the Koran whom Muslims identify with Jesus. Therefore the series subtly links the Holy Name of Jesus with the child-victim of American imperialism and indifference to human suffering. It is a way of suggesting that the Vice-President of the USA is as bad as Judas and Pontius Pilate.
Homeland is good, very good, but, I submit, to be approached with caution.