There are three prominent Black Americans in the opening sequence of Showtime’s “Homeland” Series: One is the first Black President of the United States – Barack Hussein Obama; another could have been the first Black President of the United States – Secretary of State Colin Powell; the third is Louis “Louie” Armstrong
It is the presence of Louie Armstrong in the opening sequence of Homeland that is the most problematic; yet, it might well be a key to unlocking the meaning of the series.
Obama and Powell belong in the opening because they are part of the presidential sequence, with Powell doing a partial stand-in for George W. Bush. That hardly explains Armstrong’s presence... He is neither presidential nor a personal clip of the characters in the show. Inasmuch as Louis Armstrong died in 1971, he’s not in any way contemporary with Homeland or most of its characters. The only direct hook from the story line is that Cariie likes to listen to jazz to calm herself down, when she is just a little stressed... there’s also a picture of a young Carrie playing the trumpet among the opening shots....
The brief clip of Mr. Armstrong is probably from the same clip as “Louis Armstrong in Copenhagen (1933)-HD” on You Tube [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UZvqvNYJmC4] whose accompanying graphic oddly indicates that it was from a trip to Copenhagen that Armstrong made in “1934.”
The three songs on the nine-and-a-half minute clip are each descriptive of Homeland’s main character Carrie in three distinct ways: “I Cover the Waterfront” (whose intro is the clip in Homeland’s opening) demonstrates her smouldering and always expectant love for Brody; “Dinah (Is there anyone finer?)” refers to Carrie as the female superstar that enraptures not only Brody, Quinn and Sol, but also several of the main antagonists; and last, needless to say to those familiar with my stuff, my favorite “The Tiger Rag” or as Louie says it, “The Tiger Rag – THE Tiger Rag,” which symbolizes both the difficulty in keeping on the track of the tiger and the impossibility of controlling or holding the tiger once it has been tracked down. That certainly does beg the question, who or what is the "tiger" that Carrie, Sol,and/or any of the rest, seek or seek to hold.
Of course there could be some psychobabble about Armstrong’s jazz as a whole representing the manic improvisation of the bipolar Carrie. That’s where most of the analysts and critics of Homeland’s opening have gone with the Armstrong snippet, but just because everybody says it doesn’t make it so, does it ?