'game of thrones' fired up the black twitter protest of 'confederate'
Black Twitter is calling for the network to stop production on the show, which imagines a world where slavery was never abolished.
Tweeting out #NoConfederate during last night's episode of Game of Thrones, Black Twitter protested HBO's alternate-reality drama Confederate. Under development by Game of Thrones creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, the show will imagine a world in which the Confederacy won the Civil War and slavery was never abolished. The drama, which has not yet started filming, has drawn criticism from a significant number of black writers and commentators since it was announced last week. "Mr. Benioff and Mr. Weiss are indeed white and they have as much a right to create this reimagining of slavery as anyone," culture critic Roxane Gay wrote in an op-ed for The New York Times. "That's what I'm supposed to say, but it is not at all how I feel."
The #NoConfederate Twitter movement was started last night and was popularized by prominent accounts like @blackgirlnerds, which has over 121K followers, and @reignofapril, who has over 90K followers. The group of black women behind @blackgirlnerds live-tweeted their reactions to the new episode of Game of Thrones, ending each tweet with a protest against the upcoming project from the show's creators. The moment embodied the unique, volatile relationship the African-American community has with the entertainment industry.
But there is power in numbers. Black Twitter was able to make #NoConfederate the number one trending topic in America last night — and that got HBO's attention.
The network released a statement this morning expressing its support and belief in Confederate. "We have great respect for the dialogue and concern being expressed around Confederate," HBO said. "We have faith that Nichelle [Tramble 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."
Some critics have called the premise of Confederate white "slavery fanfic," but there are black voices involved in the show. Confederate will be executive-produced by Malcolm Spellman (Empire) and Nichelle Tramble Spellman (The Good Wife), who are both black. The husband-and-wife duo disagrees with the public's criticism, believing it to be premature. "We've got black aunties," Malcolm Spellman told Vulture in response to the public's outrage last week. "We deal with the struggle every single day. And people don't have to get onboard with what we're doing based on a press release. But when they're writing about us, and commenting about us, they should be mindful of the fact that there are no sellouts involved in this show."
As any southerner knows, Confederate flags are still proudly displayed on flagpoles and trucks, and even worn as belt buckles. In fact, just until two years ago, the flag flew in front of the South Carolina State House — 148 years after the demise of the Confederacy. It was only taken down after Bree Newsome, a young black filmmaker, climbed up the flagpole, ripped the racially loaded flag down, and was charged with "defacing a monument." Newsome's arrest ignited outrage from the black community and the South Carolina State House finally stopped raising the Confederate flag each morning. The world of reigning white supremacy and oppression that Benioff and Weiss are thinking of is more fact than fiction.
Talking to Vulture, Nichelle Tramble Spellman asked the black community to at least let the show air before expressing criticism. "I do understand their concern," she said. "I wish their concern had been reserved to the night of the premiere, on HBO, on a Sunday night, when they watched and then they made a decision after they watched an hour of television as to whether or not we succeeded in what we set out to do." However, the black community has already done a lot of waiting when it comes to fair and positive representation in the media, and the very concept of this show sounds like a (big) step in the wrong direction.
Text André-Naquian Wheeler
Image Gene Bowker via Flickr Creative Commons and Kevin Winter/Getty Images