HBO’s newly announced series Confederate doesn’t even exist yet as anything more than a press release, but a lot of people seem to think they know exactly what it is and why it’s bad. They’re angry at the mere idea of it.
New York magazine just published an interview with the writers of the show, who haven’t even written so much as an outline yet. Here’s co-producer David Benioff, explaining why he wants to make this show:
…It goes without saying slavery is the worst thing that ever happened in American history. It’s our original sin as a nation. And history doesn’t disappear. That sin is still with us in many ways. Confederate, in all of our minds, will be an alternative-history show. It’s a science-fiction show. One of the strengths of science fiction is that it can show us how this history is still with us in a way no strictly realistic drama ever could, whether it were a historical drama or a contemporary drama. It’s an ugly and a painful history, but we all think this is a reason to talk about it, not a reason to run from it.
It’s like the famous George Santayana quote: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” But that’s what a lot of people want to do. They want to tear down flags and statues that remind them of past injustices. They want to erase all traces of history. Somehow, they think that remembering the past is somehow condoning it. They prefer blissful ignorance. They’d rather burn a book than allow it to hurt their feelings.
Yes, racism still exists. It always will, all over the world, as long as there are human beings. But making a TV show speculating on an alternate history isn’t intrinsically bigoted. Looking at current events through the lens of science fiction and fantasy can make for some great works of fiction.
But no, people would rather scream about a TV show that doesn’t even exist yet. Some ideas are just too dangerous to even contemplate. Some spaces must remain safe.
A lot of people fought and died to end slavery in America. The outcome of the Civil War was not a foregone conclusion. It could’ve been very different. What’s wrong with exploring that idea? What’s wrong with art?
This show might be horrible. It might be great. It might be just meh. I don’t know, and neither does anybody else. I’m willing to wait and see.
Sorry if that’s racist.