Over the last weekend, the showrunners of HBO’s hit show, Game of Thrones, David Benioff and DB Weiss, announced a new series called Confederate. It would be set in an alternate reality wherein the Confederacy won the war to keep slaves, and is set in the present day.
Needless to say, many people thought this was a bad idea.
After all, one has only to walk around the Southern US to see confederate flags still proudly flying over state houses and monuments to prominent Confederate and KKK members being protected by racist groups.
In fact, here’s a SHORT list of the kinds of brutal acts black people in America have been subjected to since slavery ended in 1865:
A white woman lied about the bruises she received, bringing the wrath of white men down upon a town, resulting in the death of 8 black people and the deserting of the town.
Black men were infected with Syphilis and purposely left untreated in a clinical study that lasted from 1932 to 1972.
Laws that reinforced racial segregation in the Southern US, part of the Separate but Equal school system.
And those are just a few, without even looking at lynchings, the killing of unarmed black men and women by police nowadays (made all the more evident by the rise of social media), the erasure of the roles of black women such as Marsha P Johnson in the LGBTQ movement (looking at you and your movie there, Roland Emmerich), Ronald Reagon naming single black moms as Welfare Queens, and the demonization of former US President Barack Obama.
So why a series about a racist movement headed up by racist to keep their free labour? Well, the showrunners, along with the two lead writers, had an interview with Vulture.com to tell us why.
It’s an interested interview, to say the least, but quite frankly, Twitter User Ana Mardoll had an excellent thread on just why this show idea is bad, along with a breakdown of the interview itself.
I think the first part of the thread says it all, because any good story would present us with three dimensional characters instead of caricatures, but there was nothing good in being a slave owner. In being a slave owner, you are, well, a slave owner.
It’s much like being a Nazi. Once Nazi enters into your character description, there’s no amount of writing that’s going to make most people view you as anything other than human scum.
And believe you me, we know that slavery was bad and that slave owners were bad to own slaves. This is not a discussion to be headed up by a couple of show runners who had a questionable display of sexual violence in their hit show and very little people of colour in it.
In fact, John Boyega had something to say about that too.
Part of me can’t help but think that this idea comes about thanks to white privilege. After all, white people do not like with the legacy of slavery in the same way that black people do. We benefit whereas black people are still struggling to be seen as human and worthy of protection, respect, and basic human dignity.
So who else could come up with such a show than two white dudes? It comes across as nothing more than a privileged class playing intellectual exercises with the lived experiences of marginalized people, something I’ve seen play out online time and time again.
“So… what about if some rape threats were false?”
“Here’s an idea… like, what if a child was dying of cancer, and about to fall into a volcano… and he was white… would it be okay for him to say the N-word?”
“Look, it’s not blackface, it’s cosplay. There’s nothing wrong with dressing up as a dark Elf…”
“Now, I’m not saying I’m racist but if you just look at history…”
And, god forbid, if this show does get made and other networks look to copy the idea (so as to make money), what would come next?
What if the British Empire hadn’t fallen and kept a hold of China, maintaining their opium imports, by the BBC?
What if Australia had become a successful penal colony, by the ABC?
Good lord, I feel I should stop. I’m afraid I might give people ideas…