The creators of HBO’s “Game of Thrones” have a forthcoming show named “Confederate” that many are hoping will never make it to air.
The show has sparked massive controversy since it was announced by HBO earlier this month, as it is set in an America where the South secedes from the Union and slavery is still legal. The show’s premise has led Twitter users ― many of whom are of color ― to share thoughts on how they believe the show will commodify black pain for entertainment purposes.
It also prompted five black women to launch a #NoConfederate campaign Friday and organize a mass social media protest speaking out against the show, which is set to begin production after “Game of Thrones” wraps up its final season. The hashtag even temporarily trended No. 1 in the nation on Twitter on Sunday night; the organizers planned for it to pick up steam as the latest episode of the highly watched “Game of Thrones” aired:
“We do not want HBO to expend any additional time, money or energy on this idea,” April Reign, one of the creators of the campaign, told HuffPost. “It is better for them to cancel this idea now, while still in its infancy, than to expend potentially millions of dollars per episode and face an even bigger backlash during its premiere. We are not going away.”
Reign, who also created the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite, led the campaign alongside Rebecca Theodore, Jamie Broadnax, Shanelle Little and Lauren Warren, each of whom expressed anger online with the show’s possible depiction of black lives and the ways in which it could help further embolden white nationalists.
″The commodification of black pain for the enjoyment of others must stop,” Reign said. “Earlier this month, there were protests about taking down Confederate monuments. The prison industrial complex is bursting with black and brown people, disproportionate to the crimes committed. So, for some, ‘Confederate’ is not ‘alternate history,’ but a painful and recent reminder of how much further we still need to go toward equality in this country.”
This message was reiterated by many other users online Sunday.
Reign said her hopes are for HBO to cancel “Confederate” entirely and “instead uplift more marginalized voices with a different series.” One suggestion she offered was “Underground,” a show that was praised for its powerful portrayal of black history.
“If HBO is truly interested in another show about enslavement, ‘Underground,’ which used to be on WGN, would be a great addition to the network that we would readily support,” Reign said.
As for “Game of Thrones,” Reign said that while she believes the show suffers from issues like a lack of diversity and its depiction of rape, she made it clear that the campaign is “not asking that anyone withdraw their support for ‘Game of Thrones’” at this time.
HBO released a statement in response to Sunday’s night Twitter protest and said that despite the backlash, “Confederate” will continue to go on as planned.
“We have great respect for the dialogue and concern being expressed around Confederate,” HBO said in a statement, according to Entertainment Weekly, while crediting the work of the show’s co-creators and writers. “We have faith that Nichelle [Trampbell Spellman], Dan [Weiss], David [Benioff], and Malcolm [Spellman] 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.”