No TV project is generating more headlines than HBO’s “Confederate.”
And the show hasn’t written a single character yet, let alone shot a scene.
Now, four of the minds behind “Confederate” are throwing kerosene on the debate. The current headlines may soon look quaint if the show lives up to its powder keg potential.
The story offers an alternate universe where the South split from the United States while retaining slavery. Flash forward to the present, and the North and South remain at odds. And slavery continues to exist.
The premise is absurd. Not all alternate realities are created equal, though.
“The Man in the High Castle” credibly wonders what might have happened if the Axis powers won World War II. The Amazon series begins with a scenario based on fact. Germany could have toppled the Allies, in theory.
By comparison, western culture’s evolution made slavery unthinkable. Still, it’s an arresting concept for a TV show. It’s also one many people would prefer never get made.
The HBO series comes with an impeccable pedigree. “Game of Thrones” showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss will be calling the shots. But Benioff and Weiss are white. Therefore, they shouldn’t be allowed to extrapolate what slavery might look like in 2017 America, or so say many on the cultural Left.
But this harebrained idea serves as yet another reminder that the imaginations of white men can be incredibly myopic.
That’s how insidious political correctness is these days. Storytellers can no longer tell stories that don’t directly flow from their life experiences.
The Best Defense is a Good Offense
To counter that narrative, HBO quickly announced two black producers will play a key role in the show’s production. All four “Confederate” players spoke with Vulture.com to assuage fears of “whitesplaining” slavery.
They did much more than that, though. And, in a way, they may have inoculated themselves against future criticism from the Left. Seems “Confederate” could have a decidedly anti-Trump perspective.
Here’s executive producer Malcolm Spellman, who is black, weighing in on a loaded Vulture question about the show’s possible appeal to the “Alt-Right.”
What people need to recognize is, and it makes me really want to get into the show: The sh** is alive and real today. I think people have got to stop pretending that slavery was something that happened and went away. The sh** is affecting people in the present day. And it’s easy for folks to hide from it, because sometimes you’re not able to map it out, especially with how insidious racism has become. But everyone knows that with Trump coming into power, a bunch of sh** that had always been there got resurfaced. 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***ed up things are today, and a story that allows us to now dramatize it in a more tangible matter.
It’s all about President Trump, apparently.
It’s Not MSNBC. It’s HBO
HBO’s programming already leans to the left. Think “Last Week Tonight,” “Real Time with Bill Maher” and a gaggle of made for HBO movies with a serious progressive agenda. Like “Confirmation,” the mash note to Anita Hill.
The channel may have another liberal program on its schedule, one targeting the GOP president on a weekly basis. Or, the show’s power structure will realize that angle could be too divisive and serve up a more coherent, thoughtful narrative.
UPDATE: Both Malcolm Spellman and Nichelle Tramble Spellman, the black couple who are co-producing ‘Confederate’ with the “Game of Thrones” showrunners, just deleted their official Twitter accounts.