HBO responded to an organized Twitter protest Sunday night against the network’s planned alternate-history slavery drama from Game of Thrones creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss and writer-producers Nichelle Tramble Spellman and Malcolm Spellman.
We are living in a post-fact world. Now more than ever, we need to tell real stories and understand our actual historical foundations.
Backlash and a #NoConfederate hashtag have already greeted the provocative idea from David Benioff and D.B. Weiss to create a fictional HBO series depicting America as if the Confederacy had won the Civil War. While artists should be allowed to tell any story as they please, the danger here stems from an uneducated public and a very real legacy of institutionalized racism.
The 2004 British mockumentary C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America already played out this narrative and my students’ reaction upon seeing it — wow, nothing much has changed — did little to redirect the trajectory of our racial progress. What will an entire series do differently? Moreover, it is likely that Confederate will simply feed into an already misguided and uneducated populace that needs no encouragement to misconstrue even the best and most meticulously researched documentaries and historical fictions.
We as a nation are desensitized to black pain. This is why #BlackLivesMatter is important, and why mainstream white America doesn’t comprehend why. Black lives have been viewed as disposable for almost 400 years in this country, and Confederate, while intentionally provocative, will fall on the tone-deaf ears of mainstream America. Considering that Game of Thrones is a popular show among white Americans and has weathered significant criticism for its lack of diversity, one must wonder how the creators are going to tackle a subject that is, in many ways, completely out of their wheelhouse, and frankly out of their league.
Films and shows about race have become mainstream. Confederate will undoubtedly be popular among devout Game of Thrones fans, but there is a danger in provocative authorship if the authors are…