If you frequent social media (especially Twitter) then you may have seen the hashtag “#NoConfederate” floating around on Friday, calling for an online protest during Sunday night’s episode of “Game of Thrones” on HBO.
What is “Confederate”, and why are people planning on tweeting that hashtag during HBO’s biggest show of the moment (and arguably one of the biggest TV shows in the world right now)?
It all started last week when HBO issued a press release announcing their plans for a new TV series, “Confederate,” helmed by “Game of Thrones” showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss.
“As the brilliant ‘Game of Thrones’ winds down to its final season, we are thrilled to be able to continue our relationship with Dan and David, knowing that any subject they take on will result in a unique and ambitious series,” said HBO president of original programming, Casey Bloys. “Their intelligent, wry and visually stunning approach to storytelling has a way of engaging an audience and taking them on an unforgettable journey. ‘Confederate’ promises to be no exception, and we are honoured to be adding the talented team of Nichelle and Malcolm Spellman to the mix.”
Sounds exciting, right? Many “Game of Thrones” fans were initially thrilled when they discovered HBO’s plans for the new series, but that delight quickly turned into outrage once the show’s plotline was revealed.
“Confederate”, an “alternate history” drama, would chronicle the events leading up to the Third American Civil War. In this alternate timeline, the southern states of the U.S. successfully left the Union, meaning that slavery remains legal and is a modern institution. Characters planned for the show include (of course) slaves and their families, slave hunters and owners, abolitionists, journalists, freedom fighters and politicians.
Understandably, the masses are not pleased, especially with the two white producers Weiss and Benioff at the helm.
Nichelle and Malcolm Spellman, the show’s intended writers, happen to be African-American, but the protest aims to be more about the show’s subject matter rather than who’s at the wheel. Detractors accuse HBO of exploiting black suffering for entertainment value.
The plan, started on Twitter, calls for supporters to tweet at HBO during Sunday night’s episode of “Game of Thrones” at 9 p.m. ET using the hashtag “#NoConfederate.”
On Thursday at the Television Critics Association’s summer tour, Casey Bloys, HBO’s programming chief, addressed the backlash against “Confederate”.
“Our mistake was the idea that we would be able to announce an idea that is so sensitive and requires so much thought on the part of the producers in a press release,” he said, inferring that necessary context was missing. “I completely understand that somebody reading the press release would not have that at all.”
He then said that he or the show’s creative body should have held a press conference with journalists so that all questions could be asked and assuaged, instead of just announcing point-blank.
Bloys insists that Weiss, Benioff and the Spellmans are aware of all the potential issues that could arise from “Confederate”, and when they head into production they feel prepared to tackle them head-on.
Despite HBO’s confidence, some people are even calling for an outright boycott of HBO entirely, using the hashtag “#boycottHBO.”
It all goes down Sunday night at 9 p.m. ET. Stay tuned.