by G. Brown
Shots are being fired in a new civil war is underway between the Black community and HBO. TRN first told you almost two weeks ago HBO’s move to bring a show called “Confederate” to its lineup soon. The new drama series takes place in an alternate reality where the south successfully seceded from the Union and as the show description says, gives “… rise to a nation in which slavery remains legal and has evolved into a modern institution.”
From the moment it was announced, the show pitch has drawn heavy fire in protests on social media.
Now the bitter backlash has grown into a full on assault under the banner #NoConfederate. Five Black women launched the hashtag campaign Friday after it appears HBO is still moving forward with plans to produce the show in spite of the big controversy and protests.
April Reign who helped spearhead the campaign says, “We do not want HBO to expend any additional time, money or energy on this idea. It is better for them to cancel this idea now, while still in its infancy, than to expend potentially millions of dollars per episode and face an even bigger backlash during its premiere.” Reign then makes the cable giant a promise—“we are not going away.”
Now you may be thinking, ‘So what- a bunch of Black women are complaining online, what good is that going to do?’ Well, obviously you don’t know the power of social media or recent history. Reign was one of the women behind #OscarSoWhite and they not only made noise, but effected change. After the backlash of that stinging awareness campaign, The Academy changed membership rules to be more inclusive–at the time in 2015 membership was something like 94% White with an average age of 62. #OscarSoWhite forced The Academy to commit to doubling the number of women who were voting members and to actively recruit more diverse members.
For a while on Sunday, #NoConfederate was trending at No. 1 on social media platforms. Two days into it’s campaign and the group of Black women were already causing a groundswell. Please take note of the day they trended to No. 1-SUNDAY…usually a day where HBO’s mega hit “Game of Thrones” dominates social media. But the group managed to be the crowned victors for a while, a victory that was all the sweeter because the showrunners for “Game of Thrones” (David Benioff and D.B. Weiss) are the same guys tapped to head up “Confederate”. Both men went on social media to defend the idea and basically say we understand your concern, but give us a chance before you protest something that hasn’t even been written.
But Reign and her group don’t want to take a wait and see attitude because they’re convinced a show a that with a plot of “gee wouldn’t it be interesting if slavery were legal” can only further exploit the pain of people who have already been exploited historically. Reign says, “The commodification of black pain for the enjoyment of others must stop.Earlier this month, there were protests about taking down Confederate monuments. The prison industrial complex is bursting with black and brown people, disproportionate to the crimes committed. So, for some, ‘Confederate’ is not ‘alternate history,’ but a painful and recent reminder of how much further we still need to go toward equality in this country.”
The pitch for this show couldn’t come at a worse time. The U-S has seen more brazen racist activities. A recent Salon article noted that “Trump’s election has created ‘safe spaces for racists“. An article on TheNation.com declared “Two Indian immigrants in Kansas shot by a man hurling anti-Muslim insults. Bomb threats and vandalism menacing Jewish community centers. Children bullying classmates of color with pro-Trump taunts. With reports like these erupting across the country, you wouldn’t be alone in suspecting that America was becoming a more hateful place, or that our current administration might have something to do with it.”
Some have suggested that if Weiss, Benioff and HBO are looking for a new project to air once “Game of Thrones” ends its run after eight seasons in 2018 or ’19, how about picking up the canceled, but critically acclaimed “Underground”. While that’s not a bad idea, why do we need another “Black people as slaves” story of any kind? If HBO is so keen on breaking out of the box of stereotypical TV, lets do a show where White people were enslaved.
What do you think..should HBO listen to viewers and ditch plans for the show? Or people being presumptuous and complaining about a show that hasn’t even aired?