A social media campaign to derail HBO’s planned modern-day Southern slavery drama quickly caught fire, rapidly shooting to the top ranks of Twitter both nationally and internationally.
Amplifying earlier criticism of the project, the campaign, with “OscarsSoWhite” activist April Reign among its organizers, asked people to tweet to HBO with the hashtag “NoConfederate” during Sunday’s broadcast of the channel’s top hit “Game of Thrones.”
“Game of Thrones” is produced by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, who are developing the recently announced “Confederate.” The pair, who are white, will work on “Confederate” with husband-and-wife Malcolm Spellman (“Empire”) and Nichelle Tramble Spellman (“The Good Wife”), who are black writer-producers.
The viral campaign prompted the cable channel to ask detractors to withhold judgment until they see “Confederate.”
“We have great respect for the dialogue and concern being expressed around ‘Confederate,’” HBO said in a statement. “We have faith that Nichelle, Dan, David and Malcolm will approach the subject with care and sensitivity. The project is currently in its infancy so we hope that people will reserve judgment until there is something to see.”
In announcing “Confederate” earlier this month, HBO described the story as following “a broad swath of characters on both sides of the Mason-Dixon Demilitarized Zone,” including freedom fighters, politicians, abolitionists and executives of a slave-holding conglomerate.
A backlash quickly followed, including from writer Roxane Gay (“Hunger,” ‘‘Difficult Women”). Her July 25 opinion piece for The New York Times carried the headline, “I Don’t Want to Watch Slavery Fan Fiction.”