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HBO’s “Confederate” deserves to be judged on content, not controversy

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Following their success in HBO’s record-breaking show “Game of Thrones,” creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have recently received a wave of backlash for their next project, “Confederate.” While the controversy surrounding the new show has only intensified since the events in Charlottesville, the poor timing of the show’s announcement and its initial presentation by HBO’s teams have given the not-yet-created show an undeserved bad rap.

The showrunners’ plan for “Confederate” is to be an alternative history piece that explores what would have happened in a world where “the southern states have successfully seceded from the Union, giving rise to a nation in which slavery remains legal and has evolved into a modern institution.”

The idea of a show answering the question, “what if emancipation never really happened?” does not seem like a show destined to do well in today’s political environment. That is fair. Critics of the unmade show, however, seem to ignore that its team of creators has said that “Confederate” will highlight modern day problems for African-Americans fostered by racism and the surfacing of alt-right groups after Trump’s election.

In an article published by Vulture, the show’s creators defended the proposed show following the Charlottesville protests and the trending hashtag #NoConfederate on Twitter during a recent airing of “Game of Thrones.”

“I think people have got to stop pretending that slavery was something that happened and went away. The s— is affecting people in present day,” Malcome Spellman, one of the show’s creators, said in response to a question about whether the show will become “wish-fulfillment for white supremacists and the alt-right.” He also said that racism today has become “insidious” and difficult for people to see in everyday life.

In the present-day South this racism that Spellman describes exists. It is this racism that has endured well after the Civil War.

On a similar note, Amazon’s new TV show, “Black America,” is being hailed as the “Anti-Confederate” by Vanity Fair. Instead of the South successfully seceding and continuing on as a slave nation as in “Confederate,” “Black America” presents an alternative reality in which, after the Union defeated the Confederacy, the states of Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi were given to the freed slaves as reparations, forming a new nation called New Colonia.

While both shows appear to cover a similar alt-history, post-Civil War era, each show also promises to address current issues regarding racism. Though the creators of “Confederate” choose to address these issues through a touchier subject – fictional institutionalized slavery – judgment over the series should be saved until after its production and creation, when it can be given a fair critique on its content.

This is an opinion article and does not reflect the views of The Tulane Hullabaloo. Catharine is a freshman at Newcomb-Tulane College. She can be reached at [email protected]


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One Response to “HBO’s “Confederate” deserves to be judged on content, not controversy”

  1. Piaget on August 24th, 2017 6:43 pm

    This show should not even be created. It’s spawned by White America for White America. The Spellmans are just along for the ride because there are plenty of other storylines that could express the strife of black Americans. Plenty. Black America is one way. Ava DuVernay’s 13th is another. They mention that people want to ignore slavery, but the fact of the matter is that time and resources are being wasted on this common plot, while the effects of African subjugation are being swept under the rug.

    The premise is one that has been REPEATEDLY treaded on, so there is no new territory to cover. This show causes controversy because such a show will only cause the wrong type of dialogue. Let me give you an example: “Oh my gosh! This is so wrong! I’m so glad slavery doesn’t exist today! What’s that? African-Americans are still affected? Wooooooow… messed up”. What’s going happen after the show though? People will continue on with their lives, and nothing will change. They tune into the show, maybe post something on social media, then do nothing.

    At this point, if one really cares, he/she would do something instead of waiting for a tv show to come out. One shouldn’t need to watch an alternate reality show in order to wake up from a privileged daze and help. And by help, I don’t mean simply just expressing your opinion online. I mean volunteering/donating to organizations that benefit impoverished areas, lending a signature to online petitions, or even protesting. Still, I need to address something else.

    “Critics of the unmade show, however, seem to ignore that its team of creators has said that “Confederate” will highlight modern
    day problems for African-Americans fostered by racism and the surfacing of alt-right groups after Trump’s election”

    Yes, they intend to highlight the modern-day struggles of African-Americans… but why do we need another ‘well-meaning’ piece of media about the horrors of slavery to do that? Everybody was taught about it in school. Yes, we know it was horrible. So, in order to tell their audience about modern issues affecting African-Americans (because that’s the only relevant part of the premise), they have to do it on a platform of slavery? There’s something wrong with that. Very wrong. Charlottesville has finally let an ignorant population see how much hatred and racism prevalently exists to this day. The writers, creators, and the network can have good intentions all they want, but a show bringing slavery back to life in modern day America is an unacceptable way to do it. We already know that slavery still impacts people of color today. It exists within prison walls. It exists in poverty. It exists in the workplace. What new information could this show possibly provide I ask?


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HBO’s “Confederate” deserves to be judged on content, not controversy