After “Game of Thrones” showrunners D.B. Weiss and David Benioff revealed Thursday that they were making a new HBO show, “Confederate,” the backlash came swiftly.
“Confederate” will be based in an alternative reality where the South succeeded in the first Civil War (in this show there are multiple) — and yes, slavery will still exist.
The name and short description of the show alone spawned angry Twitter responses, and a number of think pieces, despite the fact the show has yet to be written.
Weiss and Benioff are familiar with criticism. Their hit series, “Game of Thrones,” has received a lot over the years, but one of the biggest has been that it sorely lacks diversity. And the fact that Weiss and Benioff have done so little to tackle the diversity problem on “Game of Thrones” has left some wondering how the two will deal with a topic as sensitive as slavery.
But Benioff and Weiss are not the only producers of “Confederate.” Nichelle Tramble Spellman and Malcolm Spellman, who are both African American, will also be producing the show.
In an interview with Vulture, all four producers of “Confederate” addressed the backlash they have received thus far.
Benioff acknowledged that delving into the subject matter of “Confederate” is scary, and that the intensity of the subject, and immediate backlash, is their incentive to make sure they “get it right.”
Here’s what he said:
“This is scary, for all of us. It’s scary for different reasons. But it is a pretty terrifying prospect getting into it. We knew it would be, and now it’s come true. It’s obviously creating a lot of controversy before anything’s happened just on the basis of a press release, and that will only continue as we get closer. But even aside from that outside part of it, there’s just the frightening part of — we’re all gonna put a lot of pressure on ourselves to get it right.”
Tramble Spellman revealed in the interview that Weiss and Benioff sought her and Spellman out to ensure that “Confederate” included a black perspective — important if you’re going to create a show about slavery.
And Spellman directly addressed the question many had: Why did two people of colour sign up to create a show where the South wins the Civil War?
“Me and Nichelle are not props being used to protect someone else,” Spellman said. “We are people who feel a need to address issues the same way they do, and they should at least humanize the other end of those tweets and articles. You know what I’m saying?”
Spellman continued to explain that he wanted to get involved with “Confederate” in an effort to bring to light the current socio-political climate, wrought with racial tensions. “What people need to recognise is, and it makes me really want to get into the show: The s–t is alive and real today … So the idea that this would be pornography goes back to people imagining whips and plantations. What they need to be imagining is how f—-d up things are today, and a story that allows us to now dramatize it in a more tangible matter,” he said.
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