Barkley — So Glad You (Didn’t) Ask: A Column of Unsolicited Opinions — #13

“The truth will set you free. But first, it will piss you off.”

~ Gloria Steinem ~

By Chris M. Barkley

On July 19, Variety, once the primary news sources of the entertainment industry, reported that the Home Box Office network issued a routine press release announcing a new project, an alternate history series called Confederate, created by D.B. Weiss and David Benioff, the show runners of their top-rated show, Game of Thrones.

Confederate chronicles the events leading to the Third American Civil War. The series takes place in an alternate timeline, where the southern states have successfully seceded from the Union, giving rise to a nation in which slavery remains legal and has evolved into a modern institution. The story follows a broad swath of characters on both sides of the Mason-Dixon Demilitarized Zone – freedom fighters, slave hunters, politicians, abolitionists, journalists, the executives of a slave-holding conglomerate and the families of people in their thrall,” said the Variety story, written by Elizabeth Wagmeinster.

“Benioff and Weiss created Confederate and will serve as show runners, executive producers and writers, along with Nichelle Tramble Spellman (Justified, The Good Wife) and Malcolm Spellman (Empire), who will co-write the series and executive produce. Game of Thrones producers Carolyn Strauss and Bernadette Caulfield will also serve as executive producers,“ it stated. (It should be noted at this point that Nichelle and Malcolm Spellman are African Americans.)

Now, if you are a tried and true sf fan and reader, you are well familiar with the concept of “alternate history” which we will delve into in a moment. But first, let gauge the initial reactions to the announcement, which were swift, and furious.

The first rumblings of trouble came the very next day in a New York Times article by their television critic, David Itzkoff titled, “Confederate Poses Test Over Race for Game of Thrones Creators and HBO.” “To the show’s critics, its promise to depict slavery as it might be practiced in modern times is perhaps the most worrisome element of Confederate. They say that slavery, a grave and longstanding scar on the national psyche, especially for black Americans, should not be trivialized for the sake of a fantasy tv series,” wrote Itzkoff.

The story quotes Dodai Stewart, the editor in chief of Fusion, a social justice culture website, saying, “Racial history in this country is a very open, sensitive wound.” Also, “Nothing’s settled, nothing is healed. I want to believe that this will be handled sensitively. But it’s an emotional subject, and for too many people, it’s uncomfortably close to the reality they already experience.”

David Harewood, a black actor who has a starring role on the WB superhero program Supergirl tweeted, “Good Luck finding black actors for this project.”

The producers and HBO, realizing that they were facing a major blowback on social media, granted an interview on Vulture the very next day in which they defended the project and stated their intentions. “We plan to approach Confederate in a much different spirit, by necessity, than we would approach a show named Game of Thrones” said co-creator D.B. Weiss.  His partner David Benioff added, “You know, we might fuck it up. But we haven’t yet.” That last quote did not help matters very much.

On that same day, ReBecca Theodore tweeted:

On July 25, bestselling feminist author Roxanne Gay penned an NYT editorial titled, “I don’t want to watch Slavery Fan Fiction”.

Activist April Reign, creator of the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite in protesting the whitewashing of the Academy Award nominations of the past several years, came out with a new hashtag on Sunday, July 31: #NoConfederate, calling for HBO to cancel the series altogether. In an interview with Vox Reign stated, “One red flag was the premise of the show itself. This is supposed to be alternate history, yet we see in the news almost every day the way that the Confederate mindset is still very alive and well in present-day 2017. You’ve got somebody like Dylann Roof, who is a Confederate flag waver, a white nationalist, very calmly going into a church in Charleston, South Carolina, and killing nine black people. You’ve got textbooks in the state of Texas literally rewriting history so that black people and Africans and African Americans were not ‘enslaved,’ they were merely workers.”

This past Friday, author and Hugo award nominee Ta-Nehisi Coates weighed in with essay on The Atlantic’s website, “The Lost Cause Rides Again”.

And THEN, just when you thought things weren’t turbulent enough, Amazon threw another shoe into the cauldron: African-American producers Will Packer (Girls Trip and Straight Outta Compton) and Aaron McGruder (The Boondocks and Black Jesus) announced on August 1 that they were teaming up to create Black America, in which former slaves are granted the states of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama in the post-Reconstruction South as reparations for slavery. In other words, the “anti-Confederate.” And both producers readily admit that the announcement of their project, which had been in development for over a year, was spurred by the controversy surrounding Confederate.

Now, I have to admit that all of this sturm und drang regarding these two projects did not surprise me at all. In a world where a lie can circle the earth several times while the truth is still struggling to get into its pants, this sort of reaction is very typical of any breaking news flash, political misstep or celebrity meltdown. (And fan feuds; now, more than ever.)

It has always been personally dismaying to me that when a project something like Confederate is announced, people who are so damned concerned about the feelings of a constituency, whether it be whites, minorities and sexes, gather together to condemn, decry and call for either boycotts or cancel said projects.

I am particularly perturbed that two writers that I admire, Roxanne Gay and Ta-Nehisi Coates, would jump on the censorship bandwagon. And let’s not kid ourselves, when you call for creators to abandon a project for being perceived as racist in nature, before a frame of film has been shot, it’s censorship.

What also upsets me is that when social critics attack science fiction or, in this case, the alternate history branch of sf, they often don’t know nor care about its history or purpose.

According to my good friend and Hugo-nominated sf author and editor Steven H Silver, an alternate history story requires three things: a point of divergence from the history of our world prior to the time at which the author is writing, a change that would alter history as it is known, and an examination of the ramifications of that change.

While there are many sources on what may have been the first literary instances of alternate history, the first one I vividly remember reading was Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, wherein the Ghost of Christmas Future show Ebenezer Scrooge the consequences of his actions if he continued his curmudgeonly ways.

Many historians of modern sf recognize Nat Schachner‘s 1933 story “Ancestral Voices” and Murray Leinster’s “Sidewise In Time”, published a year later, as the most influential templates from which most alternate history stories we read today can trace their origins. Some of the more famous literary examples include Ward Moore’s Bring the Jubilee (1953), Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle (1962), Harry Turtledove’s The Guns of the South (1992) and The Yiddish Policeman’s Union by Michael Chabon (2007) . Media contributions include many episodes of Star Trek, The Back to the Future series, the Terminator films, Groundhog Day, the Amazon series version of The Man in the High Castle, and Timeless.

So as an ardent fan of some of these works, the idea of the Nazis or Russians taking over America, World War Three starting right after the end of WWII or the enslavement of the human race by aliens or other humans doesn’t faze me in the least. In fact, the most disturbing thing I have seen recently is Netflix’s adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale.

Which brings me to my first point, when well made, alternate history tales are meant to inform, illuminate and SCARE an audience into a different frame of mind. Or, as Robert Heinlein famously posited in the 1940’s, “if this goes on…”

Secondly, specifically to Roxanne Gay’s point, she does not want to watch “slavery fan fiction”. Well, as it turns out, neither do I. Yet one of her reasons for tuning out is that, and I quote, “My exhaustion with the idea of Confederate is multiplied by the realization that this show (referring to Game of Thrones) is the brainchild of two white men who oversee a show that has few people of color to speak of and where sexual violence is often gratuitous and treated as no big deal. I shudder to imagine the enslaved black body in their creative hands.”

Well to begin with, D.B. Weiss and David Benioff may have created the television version of Game of Thrones, but the outline of the story they are dramatizing is the sole property of one George R.R. Martin.

And Martin’s story is about power, greed, avarice, pain, faith, loyalty, perseverance and the longing for true freedom, all cloaked in a fantasy world where sometimes, doing the right thing, having a conscience or just being kind is an excellent way to a quick and sudden demise. Women have endured rape, betrayal, poisoning, torture and other various forms of violence. But men have not gotten off the hook so easily in the show as you imply; they have been decapitated, totally emasculated, has their throats slit and died other equally horrible fates. All of the characters, male and female, are serving the main substance of the story; surviving, forging on and trying to retain some small thread of humanity amid the carnage and terrible circumstances.

And when Weiss and Benioff approached Martin with the idea of turning his books into a maxi-series, he, a seasoned television producer himself, was highly skeptical it could be done with any semblance of quality or coherence. What persuaded him to relent was their impressive demonstration of their knowledge of the material and a battle plan to interpret the story for the small screen.

And what are their qualifications? I mean despite winning the Emmy Award for Best Drama Series (from their industry peers mind you) for the past two years?

David Brett Weiss has a Master of Philosophy in Irish literature from Trinity College, Dublin and attended Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where he earned a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing. He has written one novel, Lucky Wander Boy (2003), was an executive producer of The Specials (an Oprah Winfrey Network show about five friends with intellectual disabilities who share a house) and has co-written 45 episodes of Game of Thrones with his writing partner, David Benioff.

Mr. Benioff is an alumnus The Collegiate School, Dartmouth College and also attended Trinity College in Dublin for a year, where he met his writing partner, D.B. Weiss. He has a Masters in Fine Arts from the University of California, in Irvine. He has written two novels, The 25th Hour in 2001 (which was adapted for the screen starring Edward Norton and directed by, wait for it, Spike Lee!) and City of Thieves in 2008. He drafted an early version of Troy (2004) and wrote screenplays for the films Stay (2005) and The Kite Runner (2007).

You, Ms. Gay, object to these “two white men” tackling an alternate history project you don’t approve of? Well, I have a term for that, barefaced racism. One’s race, Ms. Gay should NOT disqualify a person to write, direct or produce anything. And from the credits of these two men cited above, I would hardly call either man close to being anything like Simon Legree. I feel some empathy for your distress you expressed in your editorial, Ms. Gay, but not at the expense of artistic freedom. Yes, I miss President Obama, too and the current occupant of the White House is an abomination to any rational person’s standards. Wringing our hands about him is not the way to react. In my opinion, projects like Confederate; if it’s done correctly, illuminates what makes human beings act in such a abhorrent manner. You may choose to cover your eyes, Ms. Gay, I intend to stay “woke” and attentive.

Secondly, Ta-Nesihi Coats and April Reign’s comments attack Confederate on the corporate level, taking direct aim at the motives of HBO. In his Atlantic editorial Coates writes, “A swirl of virtual protests and op-eds have greeted this proposed premise. In response, HBO has expressed ‘great respect’ for its critics but also said it hopes that they will ‘reserve judgment until there is something to see.’

“This request sounds sensible at first pass. Should one not ‘reserve judgment’ of a thing until after it has been seen? But HBO does not actually want the public to reserve judgment so much as it wants the public to make a positive judgment. A major entertainment company does not announce a big new show in hopes of garnering dispassionate nods of acknowledgement. HBO executives themselves judged Confederate before they’d seen it—they had to, as no television script actually exists. HBO hoped to communicate that approval to its audience through the announcement.

“HBO’s motives aside, the plea to wait supposes that a problem of conception can be fixed in execution. We do not need to wait to observe that this supposition is, at best, dicey.”

Well, it’s pretty clear to me what, HBO’s motives are; money, audience and acclaim, in that order. They provide the programming, money is provided by paid subscribers, the audience watches (ad free, I might add) and the acclaim, through ratings, awards and attracting bigger audiences, is the goal. Mr. Coates says we should be skeptical and on that point we are in total agreement; more often than not Hollywood rarely gets films or tv shows about race relations right. I don’t mind the criticism or the protests. What I mind is the insistence or even the implication that NO ONE (except maybe, people of color) should attempt to do these subjects, ever.

What both Mr. Coates and Ms. Reign seem to be asserting is that black people live in oppression and fear every single day, so why should we, as people of color, tolerate it being dramatized as entertainment?

Because, I reply, we, the American people, have a tradition of freedom of expression. Goodness knows, it has not been a perfectly implemented or even a fair tradition at certain points in our history. But it’s THERE, in the First Amendment to the Constitution. Yes, it only insures that the government is mostly inhibited in the free expression of speech and the arts. But we, without exception, are free to speak about almost anything we like without fear of retribution from the government. But the double edged sword is that we are not free from the consequences of our speech.

Just as Chic-Fil-A COO Dan T. Cathy, Mark Fuhrman, Paula Dean, former sheriff Joe Arpaio and pharma-bro Martin Shkreli and other miscreants ultimately discovered, you can express an unpopular, dumb, stupid or racist sentiments but the payment for that freedom will insure the bright glare of social media scrutiny, ridicule, protests, loss of privacy and yes, boycotts of their products and services.

HBO is not in the business of backing a losing proposition or inviting scorn. When they made a production deal for Confederate, they had the two writer-producers of the most popular television show in the world pitching it to them. Weiss and Benioff were given the benefit of the doubt by HBO, not the critics, protesters and naysayers. Nor, I suspect, do they want it. They, the other writers and co-producers bear the weight of the responsibility of producing a show that should provoke and confront the deepest and most powerful emotions from us.

What I sense from both you Mr. Coates and you, Ms. Reign, is that you appear angry and afraid; angry that Hollywood is going to screw it up again, afraid that the show is going to be a rallying cry for racists, right wing neo-conservatives and crazy people and angry that the creators of Confederate do not have the interests of minorities at heart.

And I say this: I am afraid of all of those things, too. But you know what I am more afraid of? That if artists and entertainers give into these sorts of protestations, we stifle free speech and artistic freedom to the point where people will go out of their way NOT to take a chance to be innovative, daring or take risks.

I am adamant in saying that we can’t give in to or give any credibility to this sort of fear and loathing. We must confront, overcome and transcend the fears within us. And sometimes, that means going head to head against it, not merely wanting to wish it away.

Those risks, of alienating the public, taking unpopular stances or being outright controversial or just plain wrong come with the territory of creating any art. But those are risks worth taking. That is why we revere the works people who were the risk takers of their times; Mozart, Janis Joplin, James Baldwin, Alice Cooper, Robert Mapplethorpe, Judy Chicago and Misty Copeland. Without the risk of failure, there is no reward and certainly no art worth noting for prosperity.

Frankly, we are damned lucky to have these four veteran writer-producers in charge of this particular high wire act.

And finally, Confederate, and Black America for that matter, are still untold stories right at this moment. Other than the provocative premises of each project, we know less about them than what Jon Snow knew during the first season of Game of Thrones.

Since the beginning of humankind, we have always expressed the compulsive desire for parables, tales and stories, either cut from real life or made from the fears and longings of our minds. These stories come in many forms, crime, romance, biography and yes, even fantasy and science fiction.

Speaking for myself, I don’t care for poorly told stories, only well told ones. My only charge to the writers, directors and producers of these projects is this: Make me CARE. Make it MATTER. And most importantly, make me beg to ask, WHAT COMES NEXT?

78 thoughts on “Barkley — So Glad You (Didn’t) Ask: A Column of Unsolicited Opinions — #13

  1. @robinareid Thank you! Also, in response to your early comment, you’re right – I’ve totally been falling behind schedule on using my queer feminist powers to change all visual media into copies of Steven Universe. Let’s schedule a date to destroy all other stories forever, just like we definitely want to do.

    @vivien: the only information I have to go on is the nature of your argument in this thread, which inspires no confidence in your ability to grasp the basic concept of censorship. So no, you don’t get my benefit of the doubt.

    As a whole, this thread reminds me why I like hanging out here. Thanks to everyone who has contributed other perspectives – as a non-USonian, I didn’t realise until recent events how the Civil War and the normalisation of the Confederacy continues to directly impact race relations to the extent it does. It’s good to learn, and clarified even further for me why it’s not an appropriate time or platform to tell this story. If the showrunners didn’t understand that before it was pointed out to them in backlash, that’s another big red flag about their suitability to handle this project.

    On the subject of likely characters: Based on the Game of Thrones storylines involving slavery, I’m assuming we’re going to have a version of this guy. Someone who profited from slavery, then loses out when the institution is challenged, and spends the rest of the show whining about his own perspective and struggles to the anti-slavery characters, so we can appreciate what a moral grey area slavery is at the individual level.

    In Game of Thrones, this character was introduced alongside a happy slave who totally lost out after abolition, but… surely they wouldn’t. In 2017. In an alternate present which takes major historical cues from actual past events. Come on.

  2. @robinareid:
    “We Just Feel Like We Don’t Belong Here Anymore” by Becca Andrews. Mother Jones. August 16, 2017.

    Words fail me.

  3. yes, the belief that only a few big plantation owners were the majority/primary group owning slaves is part of the historical ignorance and erasure that exists in this country.

    An intentionally created ignorance carefully nurtured by the “Lost Cause” history revisionists, spearheaded in large part by the Daughters of the Confederacy. This is why the various memorials that are at the heart of much controversy now are pernicious and should be removed: They don’t illuminate history, they do what they were explicitly intended to do – obscure, distort, and rewrite history.

  4. I continue to have very little sympathy for arguments which equate government-enforced censorship to the effect of consumer opinion in a free market.

    A whole bunch of people objecting to something does not, in any way, shape, or form, amount to “censorship”. And attempting to shut down the rights of the individual consumers by claiming that their objections amount to “censorship” will get the person who is arguing that position a great big side-eye — and no credibility whatsoever — from me. 🙄

  5. Didn’t know that about WV. Frankly, I believe that every white USian with ancestry here that dates back to the Civil War has slaveowners in their family tree. A lot of the Europeans too. I’m pretty sure I do. My mother always said we had relatives in Virginia when they split the state. But just the math has to get you. 2 parents, 4 grandparents, 8 great-grandparents, etc. Presuming a rough 20 years per generation, you get to a pretty high number pretty quick.

    It seems to me that the odds are pretty high.

    I don’t think modern people are accountable for evil done by their ancestors, though. A tendency to subjugate innocent people into slavery doesnt run in families like pig noses and freckles.

  6. If there is something I’ve learned, it is that posts about this subject is not a good place for polemics. Unless you are a masochist.

    While I don’t think it is racist, as some person stated in one of the first comments, it kind of begs to be shot down by invalidating the opinions of everyone else.

  7. Ah, the little morning irony. Congratulations to Ben Winters, a white men who took home the Sidewise award for his alternate history about a South where slavery never ended. I hope he didn’t screw it up, but looks promising to me by the opinion of any critic I had seen. My alt-history question is “would we ever have seen this book if this polemic happened before it was written” ?

    @JJ

    Except no one equated that here. I certainly didn’t. This “government-enforced” you added is yours, not mine. And “customers opinion in a free market” seems a bit euphemistic to describe the lobbying work which is going on now. And I don’t think the misunderstanding come from any failure on my side : it comes from your, or Arifel lack of ability to wrap your head around the concept of “censorhip” that would not been enforced by a political officer with a pair of cissors. A bit like some people fails to see that race issues don’t end the day someone abolish racial laws, to stay whithin the scope the subject.

    Anyway, I think I will stop my masochistic strike here, to quote Hampus Eckerman relevant remark.

  8. Vivien:

    ” And “customers opinion in a free market” seems a bit euphemistic to describe the lobbying work which is going on now.”

    Ah, lobbying work? Who is organizing and paying for the lobbying effort? What goal has the lobbying organization? How is the lobbying effort coordinated?

  9. This is the definition of a lobby I find. : “a group of people seeking to influence legislators on a particular issue.”

    The definition has no mention of finance or organization into it. Though it speaks about “legislators”, I think it is safe to extend it to any kind of high level decision maker.

    The group of people is self organized and loosely coordinated if at all (it is called the internet) and their very obvious goal is to take down a show labelled as offensive.

    No, same as above : I don’t need a group to become the NRA to start talking about a “lobbying work”. But if you don’t like this word, I am fine. I was just looking for a word to make the difference between “this show sucks, I won’t watch it” and “I will actively protest for the show never to exist”.

  10. Vivien:

    Yes, it is an organized group of people who wants to influence someone/something. Organized, because otherwise you would be a lobbyist because of your comments here.

    So.

    How is the group organized? Where is the coordination being done? What is the goal of the lobbying effort? If you can’t say for sure that coordination is being done, then you can’t say that lobbying is being done. Then it is just individuals freely expressing their opinions.

    Just as you.

  11. Sorry, no. I am not asking or putting pressure on anyone to do anything about anything. It seems to me a more fundamental difference then your considerations about organization, which will be hard to define in any case. If I did ask for something, I would be alright in being considered doing “lobbying work”, I certainly did it in the past for causes I thought right.

    And again, I am fine not agreeing with you on the definition of a lobby. It doesn’t change anything to the core of my point.

  12. So asking for something is lobbying work!? “Can I lobby you for some toast?”

  13. No, I am not a high level decision maker in control of a toast delivering organization. And the collective part of asking is still important.

    Hampus, I really think I am running out of interest for seing the definition of lobby being played with in a way that makes no sense at all. Please :
    – Replace in my “12:07 am” comment “lobbying work” with any sequence of character you deem fit to convey the notion I explained to you in the next comment : the difference between expressing an opinion about a show, and collectively protest about the show being made in the first place.
    – Check if something still grates you in the comment.
    – If not, leave me alone.

  14. In what way collectively protest? You do not think it is about individual opinions, but an organized and coordinated effort?

  15. I think it is about people knowingly adding their fifty cents to a polemic they are aware of. Is it coordinated, no. Does it qualify as collective, I think, yes.

    I don’t believe in secret cabals, if that was your question.

  16. So it is a collective of people who is not part of a collective? I.e, it is not coordinated and not an organization. Only people adding their fifty cents to an existing debate. Just as you.

    And no, I did not ask anything about “secret cabals”.

  17. I am adding my fifty cents to a debate. Someone who says “this concept sounds fishy to me” is adding his/her fifty cents to a debate.

    Some people quoted in this article are adding their voice to a call, for an institution (HBO) to take a precise course of action (take down a show before it is even produced). The internet being what it is, the fact that they are exchanging or coordinating with one another has no importance : they don’t need to. And they can’t possibly ignore what they are doing : producing a collective, intimidating wave of resentment aimed at HBO to change its course.

    Sorry for the “secret cabals”, I had the impression I was being cornered in a role I had no intention to play along.

  18. “Some people quoted in this article are adding their voice to a call, for an institution (HBO) to take a precise course of action (take down a show before it is even produced).”

    Yes, they are adding their fifty cents to an opinion that you do not seem to agree on. But it is still their fifty cents. Perhaps there are several others with the same opinion, but that doesn’t make any collective action or lobbying.

    If it is organized and coordinated, then you can talk about collective action. Then you can talk about lobbying. And I’m not saying that some people do not try to do that.

    But several individuals who has come to the same conclusion and chooses to voice it does not create a lobby or a collective. Just as you are not part of a lobbying effort because you seem to have the same opinion as Chris Barkley.

  19. Well, I think I can see this discussion running in circles without us making any progress towards understanding each other. Frustrating, but I will quit it here.

    Thank you for the polite discussion.

  20. “If a group uses a common hashtag, does that make them co-ordinated? They’ve picked a rallying point.”

    Nah, as anyone who uses twitter regularly knows, people use hashtags as much to be able to follow or be part of a conversation. And to make it easier for others to see what is written on a subject.

    There are an enormous use of hashtags on twitter without having anything to do with coordination, organization or lobbying. It is more chaotic than so.

  21. @Milt Stevens: 1 addition to robinareid’s dissection: the “Hays Office” was also a response to various state-based (and often state-run) censorship boards, making your analog between it and a public movement even less workable (see, e.g., @arifel at 12:42)

    @World Weary:

    Frankly, I believe that every white USian with ancestry here that dates back to the Civil War has slaveowners in their family tree.

    I think you’d have to push further back than that; my mother’s ~Pennsylvania-Dutch family goes back that far, but it’s unlikely that recent immigrants had the funds to buy slaves even if they were inclined.

    But just the math has to get you. 2 parents, 4 grandparents, 8 great-grandparents, etc. Presuming a rough 20 years per generation, you get to a pretty high number pretty quick.

    I’m pretty sure there’s a name for the fallacy in your logic — which, if extended, would mean that everyone in the world is descended from (e.g.) any Roman figure whose line is known not to have been extinguished — but I can’t summon it up right now. The error is in assuming that all those great^N-grandparents were unique, which is … unlikely … in a less-traveled age than ours.

    I agree that it’s likely a lot of people don’t realize that they have either slaveholders or people who profited from slavery (an even wider category) in their ancestry; the first is unlikely (not impossible, just unlikely) for my father’s line (New England all the way back), but the second is harder to know given the Triangle Trade, as simple lineage is usually better recorded than the details of lives. (I note that New England ancestry could be connected to Native American slavery, which tends not to be mentioned in these debates, but I don’t know whether that’s more or less likely in that region than African-American slavery.) But simple math isn’t going to answer complex questions, as Mark Twain pointed out a long time ago.

    I don’t see any way this production could avoid being a rallying point for denialists — especially given that the founders’ track record already involves sensationalist distortions of history; they aren’t going to give us another Roots.

  22. Re “Confederate States of America” film, I stand corrected re the Director thereof: Spike Lee I understand became involved later. Shows I should have double checked before submitting –off the top of my head– my original text ! Nevertheless my contention stands: the topic of this new controversial “Confederate ” series already has –in this earlier film– been substantially aired. If this new production subsequently airs, it should be watched and then –if it obviously promotes causes which are frankly morally wrong– should be castigated. In my (European, Irish) view ye have to the right to disagree with me re that contention: but at least let us agree to disagree agreeably. best.

  23. My mother’s four grandparents all immigrated from Wales–settled in Virginia or West Virginia, but took advantage of the government offer of land in the west to get out of coal mining, and moved to the Washington territory. That land, of course, was taken from the indigenous groups in the area to give to the right kind of “white” European settlers. I’m pretty sure there were slaveowners on at least one side of my father’s family tree though it wasn’t exactly admitted publicly.

  24. I think that those people who attack others for having a negative point of view on this show in advance seem to want to attribute a power to our words that we don’t necessarily have — and are not necessarily seeking. For instance. I wish to have the power to air the idea “this was a terrible idea and the execution will probably be racist sensationalism, and I will not watch it until and unless pretty much the entire collective population of southern US black people say ‘They did it right’ ” without having someone come along and say “you want to censor everything!”

    This great an mighty collective I am a part of can’t even get that. Clearly our powers to influence HBO must be amazing.

  25. Lenora Rose: I think that those people who attack others for having a negative point of view on this show in advance seem to want to attribute a power to our words that we don’t necessarily have — and are not necessarily seeking.

    Yes, because if they claim that, then they can try to make you feel guilty, so that you won’t express your opinion… it’s one of the tried-and-true methods of intimidation and silencing.

    Calling public opinion “censorship” is another. 🙄

  26. Lenora Rose: I think that those people who attack others for having a negative point of view on this show in advance seem to want to attribute a power to our words that we don’t necessarily have — and are not necessarily seeking.

    JJ: Yes, because if they claim that, then they can try to make you feel guilty, so that you won’t express your opinion… it’s one of the tried-and-true methods of intimidation and silencing.

    So at what point do we get to point our fingers at the people trying to make us shut up and shout CENSORSHIP! (sounding like Donald Sutherland’s character in the Body Snatchers movie!). Cause sure seems to me like they are trying to interfere with my Free Speech!!11! /sarcasm

  27. Difficult waters to navigate. I am bothered by attempts to kill shows, novels, etc. before they have seen the light of day, but we are also living in a time when Charlottesville can happen and the US President feels it’s important to claim there are good Nazis among the murderers and thugs.

    Regardless, this quote from Techgrrl1973:

    they simply CAN’T, CANNOT present the material in anything other than a watered down way that will exploit all the torture porn and rape culture but not offend the tender fee-fees of the white majority, especially those who do not see themselves in any way as racist. The commercial reality of American TV won’t let them.

    Yep. We are so completely unready to address our past that we refuse to stop repeating it over and over.

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