The proposed show — which will take place in an alternate timeline where the American South won the Civil War and will depict dramatizations of slavery in modern day — faced immediate criticism when it was announced last week, and was the target of a social media protest on Sunday, to coincide with the latest episode of Games of Thrones.
“#NoConfederate” became a trending topic even before the new GoT episode aired on the East Coast, and continued to garner support and generate tweets throughout the evening. April Reign, who previously spearheaded the “#OscarsSoWhite” protest, is one of the activists who helped organize Sunday’s Twitter movement.
“Whether you live tweet #GoT or not, please use #NoConfederate in ALL of your tweets from 9-10p ET this Sunday. Let’s get it trending!” Reign tweeted.
She also laid out the goals of the movement, writing, “We believe the time to speak up is now, before the show has been written or cast. Before @hbo invests too much money into #Confederate. We know we have the power to make change. Let’s show @hbo how many people are against #Confederate. Please join us Sunday.”
Benioff and Weiss’ controversial new series was announced on July 19, and has received a steady stream of backlash and criticism since.
According to the synopsis released by HBO, the series “follows a broad swath of characters on both sides of the Mason-Dixon Demilitarized Zone – freedom fighters, slave hunters, politicians, abolitionists, journalists, the executives of a slave-holding conglomerate and the families of people in their thrall.”
Writer Roxane Gay was among those who voiced their disapproval of the series and disappointment with the network last week, tweeting: “It is exhausting to think of how many people at HBO said yes to letting two white men envision modern day slavery — and offensive.”
However, Benioff and Weiss explained that they were developing the project with two other writers and executive producers — Nichelle Tramble Spellman and her husband, Malcolm Spellman — who are both black.
“For me and Nichelle, it’s deeply personal because we are the offspring of this history,” Malcolm recently told Vulture of the show. “We deal with it directly and have for our entire lives. We deal with it in Hollywood, we deal with it in the real world when we’re dealing with friends and family members. And I think Nichelle and I both felt a sense of urgency in trying to find a way to support a discussion that is percolating but isn’t happening enough.”
HBO responded to the protest in a statement released on Sunday, addressing concerns and urging viewers to see what the project is really like before rejecting it entirely.
“We have great respect for the dialogue and concern being expressed around Confederate. We have faith that [writers] Nichelle, Dan, David and Malcolm will approach the subject with care and sensitivity,” the statement explained. “The project is currently in its infancy so we hope that people will reserve judgment until there is something to see.”
As the controversy rages on, Benioff and Weiss’ celebrated fantasy series kicked off its penultimate season earlier this month, and fans have been freaking out over the latest episodes. Check out the video below for a look at what fans can expect from the seventh season of Game of Thrones.