The creators of Game of Thrones have faced relentless criticism for “glorifying” sexual violence and rape with their medieval-themed fantasy series. But now their latest endeavor, “Confederate,” has opened up showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss to accusations of racism.
Much like the dystopian series “The Man in the High Castle” on Amazon, and the popular video game “Wolfenstein: The New Order,” HBO’s Confederate offers a look at the world in which the Confederacy, and not the Union, won the Civil War and managed to secede.
Writing for the Univision-owned publication, The Root, Yesha Callahan asks: “Who asked for this?” It’s apparently high crime for writers like Benioff and Weiss to imagine an alternate history of the world.
Callahan calls the show a “white nationalist’s wet dream,” as if the show’s creators would callously and stupidly promote racism to offend their whole audience.
In the world of Confederate, America has faced not one, but three civil wars. Slavery remains legal, and persists through to the modern age in some parts of the Confederacy.
As the blogger herself points out, Benioff and Weiss aren’t alone in creating it. Malcolm Spellman and Nichelle Tramble Spellman, both of whom are black, have signed onto the project. Furthermore, the show will revolve around a diverse cast of characters, including abolitionists and freedom fighters.
Callahan isn’t the only one upset by the show’s existence. On social media, numerous social justice warriors took to complaining about it and the possibility that some people might don confederate regalia and merch for ironic purposes.
How is @HBO showing an “alternate timeline” when the current prison system requires thousands of black people to work with no pay?
— Samuel Sinyangwe (@samswey) July 19, 2017
— Zora Neale Hustlin’ (@MarsinCharge) July 19, 2017
Confederate, Man in the High Castle, whatever — alt histories where genocide wins are boring. Genocide has already won, like, a lot.
— Connor Goldsmith (@dreamoforgonon) July 19, 2017
Like even if Confederate is critical of current day racism, do we need another series about the suffering of POC, written by white men?
— peat ape (@kamilumin) July 19, 2017
Given the show’s broad focus and diverse set of characters, it’s very unlikely that slave owners in Confederate will be presented with any more sympathy than Leonardo DiCaprio’s character was in “Django Unchained.”
Harry Turtledove, Michael Chabon, Stephen King, and Orson Scott Card have all taken stabs at the alt-history genre of science fiction without facing accusations of racism. But in today’s politically correct environment, it would be a wonder if any of them would even be allowed to get their work off the ground these days without bloggers like Callahan throwing a childish tantrum over them.
Ian Miles Cheong is a journalist and outspoken media critic. You can reach him through social media at @stillgray on Twitter.