Homeland is ridiculous and its torture scenes are grotesque, says former hostage John McCarthy
JOHN McCarthy, held hostage in Beirut for five years, says Homeland's scenes of torture are 'absolutely grotesque'.
Homeland, the TV drama, is presenting torture as entertainment, according to the former hostage John McCarthy.
McCarthy, who was held captive in Beirut for five years, said he feared violent scenes were included in the programme "almost like titillation".
The show stars Damian Lewis as a US marine who returns home after years of captivity in Iraq, where he was tortured and ordered by his captors to beat a comrade to death.
McCarthy told Radio Times: “Watching someone being beaten to death, even in the fairly snippety bits I’ve seen - it is absolutely grotesque and makes your stomach churn.
“I do fear we’re not really appreciating the absolute horror of what someone’s going through there. Anybody who has been severely beaten wouldn’t see that as entertainment.”
The drama in the first series revolved around CIA agent Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) and her belief that Lewis’s character, Nicholas Brody, had been “turned” during his captivity and is working for al-Qaeda.
McCarthy said the scenario was unrealistic. “If you’ve completely lost your sanity - which wouldn’t be surprising under those circumstances - then maybe you might come round to your captors’ way of thinking.
“But you wouldn’t be able to function in the way Brody does: a largely efficient, reasoning character.
“It all seems so mad, the whole bloody plot. It seems ridiculous. Stockholm Syndrome can happen, of course, but I don’t think it would happen through appalling torture, frankly.”
Lewis has said that he read the memoirs of Brian Keenan, McCarthy’s Beirut cellmate, as part of his research for the role.
McCarthy acknowledged that some scenes in the drama ring true, particularly those in which Brody struggles to adapt to “normal” life.
“Lewis did really well capturing the sense of confusion I felt on coming home. There’s a scene where he’s beginning to cut his hair and shave, looking in the mirror, which really grabbed my attention,” said McCarthy, a journalist who was abducted in 1986 and released in 1991.
“He captures that sense of looking at yourself and beginning to think about yourself in a completely different world. Suddenly you’re a free man, you’re theoretically safe and you’re beginning to try to adjust to that world.
“When he’s on his own, he goes into dramatic flashbacks, which I never had, but I could believe in someone treated as badly as his character.”
Anita Singh Telegraph.co.uk