The South Will Rise Again On HBO
July 20, 2017 6:11 AM   Subscribe

Alternate takes on the American Civil War have been a literary niche for a while now, covering angles from the survival of President Lincoln to the South winning the war. Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss will continue that peculiar institution with a future HBO series titled Confederate.
posted by Brandon Blatcher (227 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
 
The reaction on my feed has been swift, and "controversial", to be generous. It seems like, by and large, people of color don't seem to like this idea.
posted by anem0ne at 6:16 AM on July 20, 2017 [24 favorites]


As I said elsewhere, I wouldn't trust the pair of them to write an episode of Barney and yet HBO decides this is a good idea.
posted by tofu_crouton at 6:18 AM on July 20, 2017 [15 favorites]




...so a Two Thousand Maniacs remake, then?
posted by Jessica Savitch's Coke Spoon at 6:20 AM on July 20, 2017 [5 favorites]


I've been trying to figure out a single scenario in which this doesn't sound like an absolutely terrible idea. Completely at a loss.
posted by thivaia at 6:20 AM on July 20, 2017 [31 favorites]


We can't even get a consensus on what happened and we want an alternate history?

Also, synthesizing some twitter hot takes:

D&D: we wanna do a story where slavery still exists in America.
Everyone: so, reconstruction, thirteenth amendment, Slavery By Another Name?
D&D: no, one where the confederacy won!
Everyone: so, reconstruction, thirteenth amendment, Slavery By Another Name, The New Jim Crow ...?
posted by the man of twists and turns at 6:21 AM on July 20, 2017 [35 favorites]


I can't imagine that anyone green-lighted this with the expectation that it would get made. I'm having a hard time coming up with other reasons, though, unless there's a market for Facebook comment futures I don't know about, and someone is long on misspelled accusations of reverse racism.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 6:22 AM on July 20, 2017 [5 favorites]


What a fucking awful idea.
posted by orangutan at 6:22 AM on July 20, 2017 [10 favorites]


Also, pedantic quibble, but if the Confederacy is independent in this timeline as a nation separate from the Union, it's not really a civil war, given that it's international, not intranational.
posted by anem0ne at 6:24 AM on July 20, 2017 [7 favorites]


For the record, I think the consensus on "what happened" is pretty close to the consensus on global warming -- in that there's a benefit for someone in claiming there's not a consensus, but the actual disagreements between 98% of experts are so small and detailed as to be irrelevant from outside the discipline.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 6:24 AM on July 20, 2017 [26 favorites]


They already did this show, it was called The Wire and it was really good.
posted by saladin at 6:27 AM on July 20, 2017 [32 favorites]


I'll form my opinions after watching a couple episodes.
posted by girlmightlive at 6:28 AM on July 20, 2017 [3 favorites]


Will there at least be a shot of General Lee with an AK-47 thanks to time travelling KKKers? Maybe that can inspire a new generation of militia types to blow them selves up trying to make particle accelerators in their bunkers.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:28 AM on July 20, 2017 [12 favorites]


The reaction on my feed has been swift, and "controversial", to be generous.

It's not even "controversial", people universally think it's a terrible idea. Which it is, quite blatantly.
posted by Artw at 6:29 AM on July 20, 2017 [6 favorites]


Would the reaction against the show be the same if this was going to be based on alt-history novels?
posted by ZeusHumms at 6:29 AM on July 20, 2017 [3 favorites]


What could possibly go wrong!
posted by soren_lorensen at 6:29 AM on July 20, 2017


Would the reaction against the show be the same if this was going to be based on alt-history novels?

Yes, the reaction to a show depicting modern day slavery would be the same.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:31 AM on July 20, 2017 [16 favorites]


Would the reaction against the show be the same if this was going to be based on alt-history novels?

Well, people would know more about it, I suspect it would still be a terrible idea.
posted by Artw at 6:31 AM on July 20, 2017 [1 favorite]


I believe this falls into the "pandering to the current zeitgeist" column.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:31 AM on July 20, 2017 [1 favorite]


HBO, Game of Thrones Creators Come Up With a Series That’s a White Nationalist’s Wet Dream

Except that they'll complain that the essjaydubs are ruining their alternate history when the show doesn't portray slavery as a benefit to the slaves and slavers as beacons of virtue.

This is a show with no audience.
posted by uncleozzy at 6:33 AM on July 20, 2017 [13 favorites]


Will there at least be a shot of General Lee with an AK-47 thanks to time travelling KKKers?

_The_Guns_of_the_South_?
posted by Slothrup at 6:33 AM on July 20, 2017 [4 favorites]


Ugh. This showed up in my news feed today, and I simultaneously cringed and did a double-take.

Who the fuck in their right minds thought to themselves, "what we need in the current political climate is a show that will almost certainly paint members of the confederacy as heroes, or at least as flawed protagonists"?

I only subscribe to HBO for Last Week Tonight (though I do watch Game of Thrones). This shit is making me think maybe I have to subside on only the John Oliver that goes up on YouTube.
posted by tocts at 6:33 AM on July 20, 2017 [10 favorites]


I read Underground Airlines recently... This sounds like it could be similar, and something I'll be sure to check out.
posted by bensinc at 6:34 AM on July 20, 2017 [2 favorites]


I was joking yesterday that whenever a writer has the impulse to add more racists to their alt-history, they should really just substitute in some dragons or whatever, because that's more historical than having marginalized groups. But really, I wouldn't say no to a Temeraire adaptation.
posted by dinty_moore at 6:34 AM on July 20, 2017 [7 favorites]


I've been trying to figure out a single scenario in which this doesn't sound like an absolutely terrible idea.

Well, they could highlight the South as a failed agrarian society, bankrupted by an inability to industrialize, crippled by an unworkable ideology, and reduced to an undeveloped hell-hole, exploited by all neighbors....

I think they will go with mostly-naked black women and horrifying rape scenarios instead.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:34 AM on July 20, 2017 [79 favorites]


I only subscribe to HBO for Last Week Tonight (though I do watch Game of Thrones). This shit is making me think maybe I have to subside on only the John Oliver that goes up on YouTube.

But Insecure.
posted by dinty_moore at 6:35 AM on July 20, 2017 [2 favorites]


Actually I think maybe Nick Spencer of Secret Empire fans was trying to defend it the other day. Or maybe that was about Secret Empire. Either way that dude has terrible judgement these days.
posted by Artw at 6:36 AM on July 20, 2017 [2 favorites]


Would the reaction against the show be the same if this was going to be based on alt-history novels?


The description of a third War Between The States makes me think of Turtledove's Timeline 191.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 6:36 AM on July 20, 2017 [4 favorites]


I've been trying to figure out a single scenario in which this doesn't sound like an absolutely terrible idea.

Presenting it as a dystopia, like the mockumentary C.S.A. did in 2004.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:37 AM on July 20, 2017 [26 favorites]


Would the reaction against the show be the same if this was going to be based on alt-history novels?

The sheer number of alt-history novels out there with this premise is part of the reason why it's a shitty premise.
posted by dinty_moore at 6:37 AM on July 20, 2017 [16 favorites]


I doubt CSA would make for a series though.
posted by Artw at 6:38 AM on July 20, 2017


I'm not sure how, but CSA is viewable on YouTube.
posted by anem0ne at 6:38 AM on July 20, 2017 [10 favorites]


Gut feeling reaction aside (I don't really have any grounds to judge the show's treatment of the material before seeing it), my feelings when I learned about the show were just... utter disinterest. I'm just not sure quite why I should want to watch a show with this premise. I feel like alt-history, grimdark present, right-wing fantasies, and dystopias are all pretty mined out right now.
posted by LSK at 6:39 AM on July 20, 2017 [8 favorites]


From zombieflanders' link: The story will take place during the fictional Third American Civil War and will show a world where slavery has remained legal and has continued into the modern era.

So, yeah, CSA would be the best case scenario here. Not sure I want to think about the worst.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:40 AM on July 20, 2017 [1 favorite]


Oh, Twitter thought about that already.
posted by Artw at 6:41 AM on July 20, 2017 [24 favorites]


There's also the whole reliving and milking Black trauma for profit. I really hope this show never sees the light of day.
posted by orangutan at 6:41 AM on July 20, 2017 [22 favorites]


I'm hazy on this, but I think the South may have won in Star Trek's Mirror World, so you could just watch that Enterprise two-parter again.
posted by Artw at 6:42 AM on July 20, 2017


I'm hazy on this, but I think the South may have won in Star Trek's Mirror World, so you could just watch that Enterprise two-parter again.

Not in official canon. Even Berman/Braga weren't that dumb.
posted by anem0ne at 6:45 AM on July 20, 2017 [10 favorites]


I feel like alt-history, grimdark present, right-wing fantasies, and dystopias

I'm not even bothering with Man in the High Castle right now, I'm certainly not going to be bothering with this.
posted by Artw at 6:46 AM on July 20, 2017 [6 favorites]


That tweet that ArtW linked is, as far as I'm concerned, the definitive take on this.
posted by saladin at 6:49 AM on July 20, 2017 [4 favorites]


Not in official canon. Even Berman/Braga weren't that dumb.

Yeah, just rewatched the Mirror, Darkly title sequence and I was misremembering the flag there.
posted by Artw at 6:50 AM on July 20, 2017


Ira Madison III at the Daily Beast: The ‘Game of Thrones’ Creators’ Next Show Sounds Stupid as Hell
You know why Black Panther is receiving such an overwhelmingly positive response? Because it embraces the concept of Afrofuturism — imagining black people in futuristic or sci-fi worlds that heavily incorporate elements of black culture into the fantasy. Fantasy and sci-fi movies, television shows, and novels tend to feature overwhelmingly white casts of characters, e.g. Star Wars, Star Trek, and the upcoming Valerian and Blade Runner 2049. It’s hard enough finding studios and networks that care about depicting human black characters in a non-sci-fi series. But for sci-fi and fantasy, it’s next to impossible. HBO can imagine robots and dragons but it struggles to imagine black people who aren’t slaves?
posted by heatvision at 6:54 AM on July 20, 2017 [47 favorites]


Yeah, no thank you, HBO.
posted by snwod at 6:56 AM on July 20, 2017 [1 favorite]


Ctrl-F Ben Winters: 0/0
Ctrl-F Omar El Akkad: 0/0

Two decent books released within the past year, one where slavery was allowed to continue in several states to avert the Civil War, one where a second Civil War breaks out over a ban on fossil fuels after both coasts and most of Florida disappear underwater. Both problematic in some ways, but probably a lot less than this show will be.
posted by Flannery Culp at 6:59 AM on July 20, 2017 [3 favorites]


I'm imagining the meeting went up something like:

- is it controversial and will get people talking and even get a mass of people hatewatching?
- in all likelihood, yes.
- can you make some poorly thought, half-arsed political commentary?
- we can try.
- and some gratuitous tits and mindless violence?
- yes, of course.

*reaches pen to sign contract*
posted by lmfsilva at 7:02 AM on July 20, 2017 [7 favorites]


I've been trying to figure out a single scenario in which this doesn't sound like an absolutely terrible idea. Completely at a loss.

As (MeFi's own) Linda Holmes suggested in a tweet: Like, maybe in an alternative timeline where HBO dramas have found more room for black creators?
posted by MCMikeNamara at 7:02 AM on July 20, 2017 [20 favorites]


There is, frankly, no way this doesn't turn into southern plantation fantasy cosplay and exploring the "humanity" and "complexity" of slaveholders and slavery supporters. This won't end well.
posted by deanc at 7:02 AM on July 20, 2017 [23 favorites]


So does this explain why I couldn't keep watching Game of Thrones?
posted by Bee'sWing at 7:09 AM on July 20, 2017 [6 favorites]


That these people were excited to share their vision for what happens after they're done adapting someone else's story for HBO is stunning. No indication whatsoever that they can read a room or have any intellectual curiosity.
posted by xyzzy at 7:14 AM on July 20, 2017 [2 favorites]



So does this explain why I couldn't keep watching Game of Thrones?


Yes. The showrunners aren't know for subtle, sensitive takes on history.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:14 AM on July 20, 2017 [5 favorites]


IF this was a project from a black creator I might be interested in it.

I did go through a Harry Turtledove alternate history phase as a kid but looking back Guns of the South is a bunch of Robert E Lee apologia. And the time travelers were Afrikaners looking for an powerful ally not KKKers, but it was still cringeworthy and confusing.

The one thing worse than The South Shall Rise Again is The South Should Have Won! The South was lucky that war lasted as long as it did, and every alt history has to deal with how the hell an agrarian south would manage to keep pace with the north in the midst of the industrial revolution. But it's just a TV show right so all that will just get hand-waved away.
posted by thecjm at 7:15 AM on July 20, 2017 [8 favorites]


If they really wanted to be bold about this, they'd do an alternate history where slaves and indians banded together to establish their own country or revolution or some such.

But no, it's GOTTA be something where the South won.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:17 AM on July 20, 2017 [36 favorites]


I know a lot of history buffs and reenactors. One friend of mine is a Civil War reenactor, and he portrays a Confederate, no less.

This show makes even him want to run a television through with a bayonet.

(Last night I also heard the show referred to as "The Man in the High Plantation.")
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:18 AM on July 20, 2017 [25 favorites]


Would the reaction against the show be the same if this was going to be based on alt-history novels?

The thing is, there's a huge difference between plausible alt-history, like, as mentioned above, Harry Turtledove, who is by no means an apologist, and essentially plantation fetishism, which the sexposition creators of Gamr of Thrones have not convinced me they are in opposition to.
posted by corb at 7:22 AM on July 20, 2017 [13 favorites]


It's weird that we keep telling Black people to get over slavery when white people seem to have the Civil War as their permanent fastasyland.
posted by maxsparber at 7:22 AM on July 20, 2017 [79 favorites]


It's a little rich to bandy about alternate histories of the Civil War when as a culture we still don't have a handle on the actual history. Like, if we had a few years of nothing but stuff like the upcoming K Troop movie, or a series depicting Ulysses S. Grant as a tragic hero instead of a corrupt alcoholic -- something that would displace the decades of Lost Cause mythologies -- I could see my way to welcoming something like this Benioff & Weiss series. And that's assuming they would treat the subject with the care and respect it deserves. So, no and no on this one.

Alternatively, I'd settle for an adaptation of For Want of a Nail.
posted by Cash4Lead at 7:25 AM on July 20, 2017 [4 favorites]


When I read about this on Twitter yesterday, I was like, 'YOU GOTTA BE FUCKING KIDDING ME."

This is a horrible idea, full stop. And any actor who decides to be in it will be on my shitlist. There is nothing nuanced or original about this premise. As a Southerner, this makes me so damn angry. As a decent human being, I am livid.
posted by Kitteh at 7:25 AM on July 20, 2017 [18 favorites]


I'm betting that their angle is that slavery persists but it is no longer based on race. The whole "see, black people can own slaves too" thing is pretty tired in my opinion. That the creators thought this would make a good movie but are fleshing it out into an entire show probably means that they are going to come up with a lot of weak narrative arcs to pad out their sad white nationalist wet dream.

One thing's for sure: A new show on HBO is going to have a lot of tits in it's first season.
posted by Catblack at 7:27 AM on July 20, 2017


So does this explain why I couldn't keep watching Game of Thrones?

That would be the eggregious bloodshed and brutality.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:27 AM on July 20, 2017 [1 favorite]


Fire On The Mountain is a book I keep meaning to read, although it seems just a bit heavy-handed. Seems like if you have to do alternate history, "What if Harriet Tubman helped John Brown launch a slave revolt that led to the establishment of a socialist republic in the South" would be more fun.
posted by vogon_poet at 7:28 AM on July 20, 2017 [15 favorites]


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.

Hmmm, who is missing from this "broad swath of characters," let's see....WHAT A SURPRISE. It's the slaves themselves.

Everything about this is fucking disgusting. And who wants to bet that writer's room and that director's chair is going to be all white people all the time.
posted by yasaman at 7:29 AM on July 20, 2017 [27 favorites]


HBO can be contacted at general@hbo.com, 1100 Avenue of the Americas, Attn: Consumer Affairs, New York, NY 10036, and via this webform. Have at it.
posted by Doktor Zed at 7:30 AM on July 20, 2017 [9 favorites]


Flannery Culp: Ctrl-F Ben Winters: 0/0

bensinc beat you by 26 minutes ;-)

When I first read the description of the HBO series and he wasn't mentioned, I wondered to myself if Ben Winters has consulted an attorney.

Underground Airlines was just shortlisted for the Sidewise Awards (Best Long Form).
posted by zakur at 7:31 AM on July 20, 2017 [1 favorite]


Yes. The showrunners aren't know for subtle, sensitive takes on history.

I don't know what you're talking about. The guys who made GRR Martin's source material look restrained by comparison are definitely the right guys for this project.
posted by tobascodagama at 7:53 AM on July 20, 2017 [1 favorite]


A friend of mine had some suggestions for alternative histories that aren't completely played out and honestly a little gross.

His earlier point, and this is one of my bugbears as well, is that the problem with imagining a modern Confederacy that openly practices slavery is that you have to explain how the hell they haven't been sanctioned by the international community who decides a generation before America that slavery was a problem. How did a divided America even contribute to the World Wars? Anti-American riots were common amongst the Allies during World War 2 - do you think they'd be somehow better if American soldiers brought their slaves along to fight? Would America even have allies?

Having 'it's just like our world, but the Confederacy is still around for some reason' is basically impossible. It can't have played out even remotely the same. So the only reason you'd film that premise, I think, is to justify putting black people in chains.
posted by Merus at 7:58 AM on July 20, 2017 [58 favorites]


As plenty of people have pointed out, one of the big problems with this isn't that the idea is grim, it's that it isn't grim enough.

The whole idea just sounds remarkably craven and unimaginative. My first thought when I learned of this was OH HBO NO
posted by octobersurprise at 7:59 AM on July 20, 2017 [2 favorites]


My first thought when I learned of this was OH HBO NO

Wait, is John Ringo a creative consultant? I may have figured this whole thing out.
posted by corb at 8:08 AM on July 20, 2017 [12 favorites]


This show is a terrible idea, and the one particular way it is terrible that I havent seen mentioned is that there is no way you go from a Southern victory to a world that looks anything like today. Turtledove's first books in Timeline-191 knew this, because World War I became a war with the Union on the side of Germany, fighting in North America against Canada and the South. That's a pretty good prediction, and would have changed everything. You can't just say, "like today, but with slavery", it's dishonest.

Now if they want to make a show about the Ottoman Empire surviving to be propped up by massive oil wealth and a defeated Britain and France unable to keep the Russians from grabbing for Istanbul, I'd watch that show.

On preview: what Merus said.
posted by BeeDo at 8:08 AM on July 20, 2017 [13 favorites]


Maybe it will be a forensics procedural about tracking down fugitive slaves, and they can call it CSA: Owning Other Human Beings. I'm certainly looking forward to the hilarious cold open that will undoubtedly resurrect David Caruso's career (again).
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 8:12 AM on July 20, 2017 [2 favorites]


Harry Turtledove, who is by no means an apologist

Ehhhh for someone who's not an apologist he keeps insisting that the first thing an independent CSA is going to do is free the slaves because meow meow it wasn't about slavery meow. It might not be the direct support for luridly white-nationalist crap you might expect from the phrase "CSA apologist," but it seems pretty darn close to what a semi-respectable CSA apologist would actually do and say.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:12 AM on July 20, 2017 [26 favorites]


So does this explain why I couldn't keep watching Game of Thrones?

I watched Season 1, and made it halfway through Season 2.
In S2, they kept saying "A WAR IS COMING!" and I'm like "GET ON WITH IT!"
But they never did.
So I quit.
posted by Major Matt Mason Dixon at 8:14 AM on July 20, 2017 [1 favorite]


It's worth noting that Ben Winters got lots of criticism himself for his novel "Underground Airlines," as did the NYT (and other outlets) who praised the white writer's "fearless" approach to mixing slavery and scifi, in pieces written by people who failed to even mention folks like Octavia Butler.

This whole thing feels terrible coming from the two clueless jerks promoting exploitative rape on a show that deliberately marginalizes people of color from prominent roles.
posted by mediareport at 8:18 AM on July 20, 2017 [16 favorites]


Ten or fifteen years ago, if you'd told me someone was suggesting this concept in broad strokes, I would have assumed from the get-go that this was a way to get a show where the protagonists were all African-American and nobody would be arguing that doing so was somehow racist that the protagonists were all black and the bad guys were all white people. Because ten years ago, I would have at least assumed that the entertainment industry, if not the entire US, was pretty firmly on the side that the Confederacy's losing the war was a good thing. And of course the protagonists in dystopian alternate history have to be the people who're being trodden-on by the dystopia. I'm not sure I'd call it a show I wanted to watch, but I would have had some level of faith that nobody was going to try to play shades-of-grey about the owning of human beings on premium cable.

But it's 2017, and I look back now and I can see that I would have believed those things, but I don't know how I ever did. It's not that I ever thought racism was dead, but I definitely used to think that it was dying, and then something like this happens and was the dystopia just supposed to be on TV?
posted by Sequence at 8:21 AM on July 20, 2017 [18 favorites]


girlmightlive: I'll form my opinions after watching a couple episodes

You're... joking, right? I can't tell anymore.
posted by tzikeh at 8:28 AM on July 20, 2017 [2 favorites]


His earlier point, and this is one of my bugbears as well, is that the problem with imagining a modern Confederacy that openly practices slavery is that you have to explain how the hell they haven't been sanctioned by the international community who decides a generation before America that slavery was a problem. How did a divided America even contribute to the World Wars? Anti-American riots were common amongst the Allies during World War 2 - do you think they'd be somehow better if American soldiers brought their slaves along to fight? Would America even have allies?

I was initially going to say "I would read this book although I think it's super ill-suited for television because of the difference between the isolated experience of choosing to read a book and the very public, image-oriented medium of television" but then I started thinking of it from a genre standpoint and asking myself, "what do we expect alternative histories, as science fiction, to do?" My initial feeling was "this would be a dystopian book which would show the evils of slavery and the impossibility of the dream of the Confederacy, and that would be interesting".

One of the questions I am super interested in is how SF and fantasy are used as memory aids and teaching tools, and the perils and promises of this. So, for example, when I was little I knew absolutely nothing about Chinese history until I read the problematic fantasy novel Bridge of Birds....and while that is a super problematic novel, it introduced me to the whole "wow, China has the long, long history of being a super-complex, basically modern power with its own classical traditions, bureaucracy, etc" and that just totally blew me away when I was elevenish and was, indirectly, responsible for my majoring in Asian studies with a focus on Chinese history. So, like, fantasy often functions as an off-kilter source of information about a place or thing, and the ways in which it functions both exceed the political (frex, I think I got good things out of BoB, despite its problems) and are contoured by politics ("let's write a comedy novel about kitsch China, that's totally cool!!!")

More positively, you might look at how Long Hidden compiles sort of historical fantasy - stories which combine fantasy and the history of marginalized people with the intent of both reworking fantasy tropes as a genre gesture and highlighting particular historical moments. Or you might consider how NK Jemisin works in trans characters (and a gluten-intolerant character!) in The Obelisk Gate - that's more a historiography thing, where what she's saying is "remember that during history, these people are always present".

So anyway. From a "genre as memory aid and teaching tool" standpoint, it seems like no matter how well one wrote such a book, it would be hard to see the point at all. It's not like "slavery is bad" is a point which needs to be argued, and even the "let's examine the ways that US slavery and modernity would interact" is just...not especially useful, more of a "this would be a totally neat thought experiment", which it would only be if you were pretty sure you'd never be on the wrong side of the ownership thing.

I could see such a book if it were written specifically as a rebuke to the "the Confederate flag is about heritage" crowd, where the point was to show how isolated, poor, cruel and provincial a modern Confederacy would be. But I think that book would be very different from genre alternate histories - it would be more like The Handmaid's Tale because it would be aimed at a non-genre audience as a political gesture. A genre alternate history like this doesn't seem like it would be anything I'd admire.

May I take this moment to stan for a superior book, Terry Bisson's Fire On The Mountain, a book in which Harriet Tubman and John Brown successfully raided Harper's Ferry, beginning the Civil War as a guerilla struggle against slavery? In Fire On The Mountain, the contemporary South is rich, socialist and egalitarian because the course of the Civil War was more radical.

Like, what if we had that mini-series? Fire On The Mountain is an amazing alternate history and an altogether admirable novel which would make a fantastic TV show.

Maybe that's a thing - why can't we have alternate histories that are about, for instance, Black liberation? Why can't we have alternate histories in which the SPD and the KPD together vote down the Nazis? Why can't we have alternate histories in which MLK doesn't get shot?

What do we achieve politically when our alternate histories are always "See? It could be so much worse?"
posted by Frowner at 8:29 AM on July 20, 2017 [35 favorites]


a series depicting Ulysses S. Grant as a tragic hero instead of a corrupt alcoholic

I'd watch this. And not just because his resemblance to young US Grant could make this an interesting role for Michael Fassbender.
posted by thivaia at 8:30 AM on July 20, 2017 [2 favorites]


You're... joking, right? I can't tell anymore.

You know how you can be waiting by a door that's locked, and someone will walk up, and you'll say, "It's locked," but they gotta try the door anyway to see that it's locked?

Or when you take a bottle of expired milk from the work fridge and go, "Wow, that reeks," and someone wants to smell it themselves?
posted by anem0ne at 8:30 AM on July 20, 2017 [11 favorites]


Or, say, if you say "hey, that's racist," and someone else has to come in and go, "but is it? have you considered..."
posted by anem0ne at 8:30 AM on July 20, 2017 [26 favorites]


Ehhhh for someone who's not an apologist he keeps insisting that the first thing an independent CSA is going to do is free the slaves because meow meow it wasn't about slavery meow. It might not be the direct support for luridly white-nationalist crap you might expect from the phrase "CSA apologist," but it seems pretty darn close to what a semi-respectable CSA apologist would actually do and say.

And, of course, the extensive whitewashing of Lee's personal support for slavery that every CSA apologist loves to engage in.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:31 AM on July 20, 2017 [10 favorites]


Having 'it's just like our world, but the Confederacy is still around for some reason' is basically impossible.

Seems like most of the alt-histories where the South successfully secedes assume the CSA, with slavery protected, would proceed as a federal entity rather than, you know, a loose confederacy. It makes for clash-of-empires drama, but since anti-federalism was a rationalization to justify the peculiar institution, further balkanization and devolution into crummy little extractive economies seems like a more reasonable destiny.
posted by bendybendy at 8:36 AM on July 20, 2017 [10 favorites]


"we never expected that actual nazis would use the clips from the show as propaganda!"

Lindsay Ellis makes some good points about this in her discussion of Mel Brooks and The Producers. She compares the utter ridicule of "Springtime for Hitler" to the depiction of fascists in American History X, Inglourious Basterds, and Cabaret, all of which can be perverted and misinterpreted more easily than Brooks' work.

The whole thing is a good watch, but the particularly interesting bit about American History X starts around 29:30.
posted by Vic Morrow's Personal Vietnam at 8:37 AM on July 20, 2017 [9 favorites]


(The other thing about Fire On The Mountain? You know what they're doing in their timeline in, like, the nineties? Going to Mars! It's not just a story about Black liberation, it's a story about radical Black futurity flowing from a changed past. So if you made a mini-series, you could have the past...and a "going to Mars" plot.)
posted by Frowner at 8:38 AM on July 20, 2017 [4 favorites]


Somebody on Twitter tweeted that we have yet to see the pitch where there is an alternative America where the white people never showed up and god damn it, I want to see that series.
posted by maxsparber at 8:41 AM on July 20, 2017 [36 favorites]


speaking of alt-histories/realities, now y'all know how I feel about zombie shit ...
posted by philip-random at 8:42 AM on July 20, 2017


Are you ... a zombie?
posted by maxsparber at 8:43 AM on July 20, 2017 [6 favorites]


Yeah, as somebody who really digs alternative history when done well (or even half-assed-but-not-patently-offensive), the many wonderful suggestions by people of "instead of this shitty idea, HBO, what about this?" has been a lovely by-product to this particularly clusterfuck.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 8:43 AM on July 20, 2017 [5 favorites]


😢
posted by zombieflanders at 8:44 AM on July 20, 2017 [19 favorites]


Somebody on Twitter tweeted that we have yet to see the pitch where there is an alternative America where the white people never showed up and god damn it, I want to see that series.

So, Years of Rice and Salt?
posted by Cash4Lead at 8:45 AM on July 20, 2017 [16 favorites]


Years of Rice and Salt

Oh, that sounds good.
posted by maxsparber at 8:46 AM on July 20, 2017




I want an HBO adaptation of The Mirage. That would be the shit.
posted by GuyZero at 8:53 AM on July 20, 2017 [3 favorites]


Oh, that sounds good.

Implies the use of outlawed "Cloud Atlas" technology.
posted by Artw at 8:55 AM on July 20, 2017 [3 favorites]


What do we achieve politically when our alternate histories are always "See? It could be so much worse?"

I think they prefer the dystopias because it allows for "acceptable resistance." Like, in real modern day, you get people tut-tutting that a protest against police violence or whatever isn't polite enough. But slavery, if you're fighting slavery, then it's okay, right?
posted by RobotHero at 9:01 AM on July 20, 2017 [6 favorites]


Years of Rice and Salt

I often find alt-histories too implausible to enjoy, but I read YRS at a friend's urging when it came out and dug it so much I kept my copy. I would absolutely watch a well done version of that.
posted by octobersurprise at 9:03 AM on July 20, 2017 [3 favorites]


It's not alt history so much as speculative fiction, but I would love a limited series on The Intuitionist.

I can understand why after like a decade of dealing with GRRM you might not want to adapt another's story again, but this premise just seems strangely unimaginative.
posted by the primroses were over at 9:05 AM on July 20, 2017 [1 favorite]


he keeps insisting that the first thing an independent CSA is going to do is free the slaves because meow meow it wasn't about slavery meow

It's been a while since I read the books, but I thiiiiiink what happens is that England pressures them to free the slaves because of that international opinion mentioned upthread, and they do so but only in super restricted Jim Crow ways? I could also be wrong, see the "it's been a while", but I feel like he went into the idea, backed by reasons and evidence, that keeping a slave society was a fantasy that would never have been workable even if the CSA had won, and that the destruction of the plantation lifestyle was inevitable. It seemed to be coming from a much better place than I feel like this series is, at least, but I'll defer to you if you've read them more recently.
posted by corb at 9:09 AM on July 20, 2017 [2 favorites]


In better news about upcoming HBO series: HBO to Adapt Nnedi Okorafor’s Who Fears Death for Television.
posted by asperity at 9:22 AM on July 20, 2017 [10 favorites]


Years of Rice and Salt's biggest weakness was it's depiction of the Americas. China and Japan colonize the Pacific coast. A random samurai wanders all the way to the great lakes and teaches the Iroquois confederacy how to inoculate themselves. And that's about it.
posted by thecjm at 9:25 AM on July 20, 2017 [3 favorites]


This show idea does sound vastly crass, on the face of it. The quite thoroughly explored idea of 'what if the Nazis won?' has produced mixed results, but nothing I know of which goes beyond 'awful people keep doing awful things' - because what else can you do with Nazis? Have them go through some heroic return to liberal humanity?

In real life, that would be the best you could hope for - but in fiction, it implies an equally heroic level of forgiveness by the audience which I very much doubt anyone but a true genius could bring off. An exercise in redemption and empathy that few would be ready for, or even find a desirable outcome.

Otherwise, all you have is awful people behaving awfully until the underdog heroes finally dislodge them, which you might get away with in a film but a series - let alone a multi-season show - would have to include an awful lot of continuing awfulness.

And the Nazis are far further removed from everyday experience (yes, I know) than the racist ripples from the civil war, and there are few signs that the show's creative team have the levels of artistic genius needed to do anything else than portray awful people behaving awfully. And those who identify with that awfulness will just love it.

Will there at least be a shot of General Lee with an AK-47 thanks to time travelling KKKers?

Doctor Ku. Worst. Regeneration. Ever.
posted by Devonian at 9:29 AM on July 20, 2017 [2 favorites]


As plenty of people have pointed out, one of the big problems with this isn't that the idea is grim, it's that it isn't grim enough.

Ah, so a TV version of The Domination, then?
posted by FJT at 9:30 AM on July 20, 2017 [1 favorite]


Ah, so a TV version of The Domination, then?

Now this is a lovely Wikipedia-ism: "an alternate history series, generally regarded as dystopian". Hm, yes, you might say that an alt-history story about authoritarian white supremacist slave owners gradually conquering the entire planet would "generally" be regarded as dystopian.
posted by tobascodagama at 9:39 AM on July 20, 2017 [9 favorites]


Have there been any What If the Nazi's Won? stories that are set in Germany? Because the trope I'm much more familiar with is What If the Nazi's Won and by Won we mean also conquered America somehow.
posted by thecjm at 9:41 AM on July 20, 2017 [3 favorites]


If someone like Ta-Nehisi Coates was the guy originating and running the show, it probably still wouldn't be my cup of tea, but I could see there being interesting commentary on the ways in which in our reality slavery simply morphed into the prison system and more. Run by smug white boys who think 'sexposition' makes them geniuses? Yeah, no.
posted by tavella at 9:44 AM on July 20, 2017 [20 favorites]


"The Handmaid's Tale, but about race" was an elevator pitch that was bound to take root somewhere, I guess
posted by prize bull octorok at 9:45 AM on July 20, 2017 [7 favorites]


It's been a while since I read the books, but I thiiiiiink what happens is that England pressures them to free the slaves because of that international opinion mentioned upthread, and they do so but only in super restricted Jim Crow ways?

Yes, that's my recollection too from the WW1-with-the-names-changed books. My recollection from _Guns of the South_ is that Lee just immediately abandons slavery for whatever reason.

Even so... That still counts as them immediately giving up what they'd just fought a war to keep. It's ridiculous unless you believe the war was really about something else and slavery was only some incidental part of their treason... you know, like CSA apologists do.

I could also be wrong, see the "it's been a while", but I feel like he went into the idea, backed by reasons and evidence, that keeping a slave society was a fantasy that would never have been workable even if the CSA had won, and that the destruction of the plantation lifestyle was inevitable.

It's still functionally apologia because he decides that a victorious CSA would rather immediately abandon slavery and modernize than just stay backwards and agrarian until they become a failed state with black slaves. Again, as if slavery weren't the reason for their crimes and war.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:52 AM on July 20, 2017 [9 favorites]


Or, say, if you say "hey, that's racist," and someone else has to come in and go, "but is it? have you considered..."

How in the world can you extrapolate and project all that onto me from my comment? You don't know me or what I'm about.
posted by girlmightlive at 9:52 AM on July 20, 2017 [2 favorites]


Instead of this, I'm excited for the TV adaptation of Colson Whitehead's Underground Railroad that Amazon is producing with Barry Jenkins writing and directing. The hook: "Underground Railroad" is a literal rather than metaphorical name. Definitely the better of summer 2016's two big slavery-related alt-history / magical realism novels.
posted by bassooner at 9:53 AM on July 20, 2017 [12 favorites]


Thanks to HBO's tits and ass quota, I assume that a female slave will be violently and graphically raped in the first 15 minutes of Confederate. But don't worry, later on they'll show (in equally graphic detail) a "consensual" relationship between a slave and a slaveowner -- you know, a cheerful note to balance things out. At some point during the season, the slave will choose LOVE over FREEDOM.

I'm also anticipating merkin fails when the producers either (1) authorize bizarre and fake-looking "afro-textured" hairpieces for all; or, (2) forget that black hair down there is often (but not always) kinky and provide everyone with silky smooth 2A curlies.
posted by lesli212 at 9:54 AM on July 20, 2017 [11 favorites]


Hm, yes, you might say that an alt-history story about authoritarian white supremacist slave owners gradually conquering the entire planet would "generally" be regarded as dystopian.

Don't forget that by the end they're white supremacist slave-owning posthumans who exterminate the human race on Earth.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:54 AM on July 20, 2017 [5 favorites]


I do not think that the concept for this show is inherently a bad idea.

I do not have much confidence in the abilities of Benioff and Weiss to pull this off in a thoughtful and non-offensive way.

I am kind of shocked at everyone freaking out about this show's very existence as a bad idea, though.
posted by Automocar at 9:55 AM on July 20, 2017 [2 favorites]


As always, Very Smart Brothas is on it: What hasn’t surprised me is that an idea this ambitious from two people who don’t seem to have any real experience with the nuanced and explosive subject matter is getting greenlighted. Because these two people are White men. And White men get their ambitious, insane, reckless, and inane ideas funded all of the fucking time. They get money for TV shows and movies no one will watch. Investments in start-ups no one asked for. Funding for apps no one will use. Loans for restaurants no one will eat at. Grants for condominium complexes no one will live in. Capital for websites no one will visit. Deals for books no one will read....Still, maybe Confederate will surprise us. Who knows? But I do know that if it crashes and burns, Benioff and Weiss will get another chance. And another chance after that chance. And another chance after that chance. And another…
posted by TwoStride at 9:56 AM on July 20, 2017 [48 favorites]


TwoStride, they nail it exactly.
posted by Kitteh at 10:03 AM on July 20, 2017 [3 favorites]


this sounds like a very bad idea for a TV show but I'm nonplussed at the speculative fanfic being written here about the specific gross and racist things it's surely going to include.
posted by prize bull octorok at 10:12 AM on July 20, 2017 [7 favorites]


In better news about upcoming HBO series: HBO to Adapt Nnedi Okorafor’s Who Fears Death for Television.

Make that, Hugo Award winning, Nebula winning, World Fantasy Award winner Nnedi Okorafor.

Or as Vice put it, GEORGE RR MARTIN is adapting some African writer, i dunno novel to television! Did we mention GEORGE RR MARTIN?

If you want to know why D&D got away with this project, there's a hint right there.
posted by happyroach at 10:14 AM on July 20, 2017 [10 favorites]


speculative fanfic being written here about the specific gross and racist things it's surely going to include.

... have you watched GoT? It's pretty reasonable extrapolation, and I say this as a huge fan of the show (supremely problematic as it is).
posted by TwoStride at 10:14 AM on July 20, 2017 [9 favorites]


I do not think that the concept for this show is inherently a bad idea.

I do not have much confidence in the abilities of Benioff and Weiss to pull this off in a thoughtful and non-offensive way.

I am kind of shocked at everyone freaking out about this show's very existence as a bad idea, though.


Everybody I've seen is pointing out it's a bad idea because it's Benioff and Weiss as one of the primary reasons.

As far as the show's very existence being problematic, I dunno about you, but on all my feeds, it is rather unanimous from the Black community that this is not something they are okay with. So, like. Maybe they have a point? I mean, as yasaman points out, if you're going to write about slavery and you're going to ignore slaves, if the responsibility of the show pretty much lands on people who have no experience about slavery, no real understanding of how racism has affected the descendants of slaves?

Like. I appreciate that you seem to want to argue some shit about free speech and artistic expression or something, but.
posted by anem0ne at 10:18 AM on July 20, 2017 [18 favorites]


As far as the show's very existence being problematic, I dunno about you, but on all my feeds, it is rather unanimous from the Black community that this is not something they are okay with. So, like. Maybe they have a point? I mean, as yasaman points out, if you're going to write about slavery and you're going to ignore slaves, if the responsibility of the show pretty much lands on people who have no experience about slavery, no real understanding of how racism has affected the descendants of slaves?

Oh yeah, no, I get that. I just think that people are not reacting to Insert Slavery Show Here but rather this particular concept for a show from these two particular white men and extrapolating out from that that you could never do an alt history television show where the Union lost the Civil War in a nuanced and thoughtful way, which is something I very much disagree with.

I'm totally on board with everyone freaking out about this particular show though, because it does indeed strike me as a uniformly terrible idea. I can easily see this show treating the lives of slaves the same way they treat serfs in Westeros, and, uh, no.
posted by Automocar at 10:30 AM on July 20, 2017


Somebody on Twitter tweeted that we have yet to see the pitch where there is an alternative America where the white people never showed up and god damn it, I want to see that series.

While you're waiting for the TV series, may I suggest a novel: Bear Daughter.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 10:30 AM on July 20, 2017 [1 favorite]


I am kind of shocked at everyone freaking out about this show's very existence as a bad idea, though.

Based on the summary of the show, which states America in the midst or brink of third Civil War, it sounds like the creators will show terrible things happening, but eventually GOOD will and prevail slavery will end.

This is a completely unoriginal idea that will drag me through a mental and emotional hell for a fictional salvation that's already been had in real life. I will literally get zero comfort from more repeated viewings of black people being treated poorly in America. I've seen numerous phone cam movies from the past year to illustrate that peculiar institutionalized bullshit.

It's like some people, mostly female, who noped the fuck out of Game of Thrones, because they were tired of seeing female characters abused. Sure, this season starts with some of those same characters in positions of power, but it doesn't matter, people have had their fill of seeing woman abused in real life and fiction and their tolerance for anymore of that bullshit is extremely low.

Same principle at work for this show. The fucking Confederacy was founded on the idea of white supremacy, and now these motherfuckers wanna name their show after this shit? Fuck them and fuck HBO for this completely shitty idea.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:54 AM on July 20, 2017 [55 favorites]


Oh yeah, no, I get that. I just think that people are not reacting to Insert Slavery Show Here but rather this particular concept for a show from these two particular white men and extrapolating out from that that you could never do an alt history television show where the Union lost the Civil War in a nuanced and thoughtful way, which is something I very much disagree with.

I mean, I think there are ways it's been done relatively respectfully (the C.S.A example given upthread), but I also think that the current political climate is such that it would be inevitable that this venture would appeal to white supremacists, even if it's not the creator's intentions. It's also worth noting that this is hardly the first 'what if the south won' alt-history, and these things go badly much more often than they go right.
posted by dinty_moore at 11:09 AM on July 20, 2017 [4 favorites]


I haven't read through this discussion yet, but what if this show turns Confederates (as a pop cultural concept) into a mook villain similar to Nazis, cannon fodder orc zombies imbued of pure evil and fit only for destruction? Would that be a positive or a negative thing? Only Django Unchained comes to mind as a recent popular work where faceless Klanmen are mowed down in great numbers.

Happy 20 July Bomb Plot day, by the way.
posted by Apocryphon at 11:33 AM on July 20, 2017


Huge fan of GoT, comment on it constantly on social media, rush over to the FanFare threads after each episode. I have no faith in the creative team behind GoT being able to handle this proposed show with the nuance, grace, and skill necessary to make it any good.

I have observed that the GoT creative team -- including, or perhaps more accurately, especially Benioff and Weiss -- react with total cluelessness to some of the pushback they get for awful things they've done or shown on Thrones. For example, their reaction to the outcry over the non-consensual sex b/t Jaime and Cersei in front of Joffrey's corpse and their reaction in earlier seasons to criticism over the scarcity of significant non-white characters both left a lot to be desired.

So based on that, I don't have the time or patience to watch the kind of edgelord bullshit they're likely to depict in this show in their attempt to push boundaries.

For example, showing how blacks in the non-slave territories aren't exactly living a life of wine and roses either No shit?! Just like in real life! Edgy! Ground-breaking! Controversial...but in a good way! Greenlight that shit!

Another example: showing how the blacks in slave territories who become slaveowners end up being just as cruel and horrible as white slaveowners because, y'see, slavery harms both the enslaver and enslaved so maybe keep that in mind next time you criticize the Confederacy or the Jim Crow South, SJWs! (I can already see the storyline where the biracial illegitimate child of one of the white slaveowners fights off -- physically and legally -- the owner's legitimate children to wind up as the sole inheritor of the plantation, starts off attempting to practice a kind of "enlightened" slavery, and winds up being the cruelest owner of them all. Because edgy!)

Another example: writing it such that the overwhelming majority of white slaveowners are either superhumanly noble and only extremely reluctantly part of the process or simply handle it as a business transaction with no real ill-will towards their slaves. That's not just the cutting edge of the blade, that's the molecules of air being pushed aside by the edge of the blade! Here's 500 million dollars from some producers and advertisers, film that shit, kid!
posted by lord_wolf at 11:34 AM on July 20, 2017 [14 favorites]


Have there been any What If the Nazi's Won? stories that are set in Germany? Because the trope I'm much more familiar with is What If the Nazi's Won and by Won we mean also conquered America somehow.

I doubt there are, given postwar German laws are very strict about the use of Nazi iconography. Though now I wonder if there are any "What if the Soviets won all of Germany?" or "What if Napoleon won?" stories in the public imagination.
posted by Apocryphon at 11:35 AM on July 20, 2017


Have there been any What If the Nazi's Won? stories that are set in Germany? Because the trope I'm much more familiar with is What If the Nazi's Won and by Won we mean also conquered America somehow.

A friend of mine mentioned Fatherland.

In film/TV, there are two hurdles for that: For a foreign production (ie, UK/US) the safe money is on award-ready WWII flicks, not speculative fiction set in Germany, and I doubt any German production would get federal funding and permits to film. Outside the proper channels, maybe there's some wish fulfillment film made by cosplaying fash skinheads on a handheld camera but it's likely the kind of shit on mail-order from a fanzine sold on a biker bar that has a jukebox of nazi anthems and white power music.
posted by lmfsilva at 11:40 AM on July 20, 2017 [2 favorites]


While I too have some considerable doubts about the show, this part of the announcement:

In a move to perhaps pre-empt criticism, Weiss and Benioff have also announced that non-white writers Nichelle Tramble Spellman (Justified, The Good Wife) and Malcolm Spellman (Empire) will be co-writing and executive producing the series.

should likely get some notice regarding the possible directions the show might take. (Should it actually get made.)

As a guess, since the always popular Nazis have dropped into the conversation, I'm going to speculate that a Confederate US might be claimed as a Nazi ally in WWII, or uninvolved in the conflict due to a second civil war, thus changing the shape of Europe too. Which would be a nice selling point for the show since Hollywood loves stories with Nazis.
posted by gusottertrout at 11:40 AM on July 20, 2017 [1 favorite]


(coming to think of it, the list of english language, non-war movies set outside the UK/US without a anglo protagonist must be really, really slim)
posted by lmfsilva at 11:42 AM on July 20, 2017


It's ridiculous unless you believe the war was really about something else and slavery was only some incidental part of their treason... you know, like CSA apologists do.

I feel like I should be clearer that I don't think Turtledove is a loonie nazi or anything, but that he has a typical conservative-ish old white dude's blind spot for shit like that. That he can't be troubled not to fall into the CSA-apologist trap.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:52 AM on July 20, 2017 [6 favorites]


You know what will happen with this show? Fanfic. Fanfic that shows the slave-owners (or at least the hot young ones) to be "not that bad". Fanfic about secret romances between conflicted slave owners and slaves. Cute reaction gifs featuring slaveowners. Vogue articles about the fashions of the show. Fashion spreads "influenced by" the show. "Which character are you" quizzes. Marketing partnerships. You know this isn't going to be some arty no-budget Netflix deal; it's going to be designed to make everyone concerned a lot of money, and you do that through building your fandom and cross-marketing.

For this reason alone, this show is a really terrible idea. The mass-fandom/marketing aspect of the show will be incredibly unseemly, toxic and stressful.
posted by Frowner at 12:27 PM on July 20, 2017 [50 favorites]


Mark me down on the against side. Without decent source material to anchor this, say Bring the Jubilee or even Winston Churchill's bit of alt-history dalliance from the 30's "If Lee Had NOT Won the Battle of Gettysburg" or any of the contemporary works, I think this is likely doomed. David Benioff and D.B. Weiss are not nuanced showrunners and I would not trust them to handle something like this. Best case scenario is make this about the dystopia of the South vs the utopia of the North (and the rest of the world). Maybe something along the lines of Man in the High Castle. And even then it'd be quite a job, one which would require writers, directors, actors and producers all to be on the same page. I don't think HBO would be up to the task of making it into anything other than a sickening and exploitative show.
posted by Ashwagandha at 12:32 PM on July 20, 2017 [2 favorites]


I wouldn't mind seeing an adaptation of Lion's Blood by Steve Barnes.
posted by bq at 12:38 PM on July 20, 2017 [1 favorite]


Nah, Netflix already has The 13th.
posted by ShawnStruck at 1:04 PM on July 20, 2017 [3 favorites]


They have brought on 2 prominent African American television giants to work as executive producers and writers on the series (one pay-grade below the showrunner position), and, while Game of Thrones has all the inherent problems of race that has plagued the fantasy genre, since they have gotten out from under the thumb of GRRM, the show has essentially become feminist agitprop where women literally have all the power and men continue to fuck things up (my sardonic tone is directed at the internet hate machine, not the welcome feminist bent to current GoT).
posted by R.F.Simpson at 1:07 PM on July 20, 2017 [1 favorite]


So we just have 6 1/2 years until it would stop being horrible, hooray!
posted by zombieflanders at 1:18 PM on July 20, 2017


There is, frankly, no way this doesn't turn into southern plantation fantasy cosplay and exploring the "humanity" and "complexity" of slaveholders and slavery supporters. This won't end well.

This is a completely sincere question, I have not watched the show.

When I heard the initial reviews of Westworld, I thought that one of the fears was that it would end up being this basically but about women. Then the election happened and I stopped paying attention to anything at all. How did that show's trajectory pan out?

To be clear, I'm asking out of curiosity, not because I think the answer informs anything about this show. This show sounds stupid and racist as hell on its face.
posted by OmieWise at 1:20 PM on July 20, 2017


My pet alternate-history-that-isn't-one-of-the-usual-suspects that I think would make a real corker of a miniseries is The Resurrections, a novel that takes an unusual turning point (Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht live, and the Communists take over Germany post-WWI) with all sorts of interesting results: Trotsky instead of Stalin in the USSR, no WWII in Europe and the Pacific war results in Tokyo and Los Angeles getting nuked, Hitler emigrates to the US, becomes a senator, and founds a third party that's basically the Dixiecrats, etc.
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:26 PM on July 20, 2017 [2 favorites]


And that this show can be happening at the same time that Senators are seeking to make it illegal to support a boycott of Israel...and the cozying up with White Nationalist Russia...and the ongoing hot wars. White Nationalism is a hell of a drug!
posted by OmieWise at 1:28 PM on July 20, 2017 [1 favorite]


When I heard the initial reviews of Westworld, I thought that one of the fears was that it would end up being this basically but about women. Then the election happened and I stopped paying attention to anything at all. How did that show's trajectory pan out?

Vague spoilers ahoy:

Westworld spent the arc of its season setting up a lot of awful exploitation and man's-inhumanity-to-simulated-(wo)man in service of a pretty definitive revenge-and-revolt turnaround. On the one hand, I feel like they established that they were actually intentionally going somewhere with the use of violent/abusive/inhumane imagery, like the tail end of the season ended up being in significant part about that and the nature of humanity and existence rather than just thoughtless fridging and sexposition. Partly because of the "they're robots, they get repaired" nature of the premise, the characters most directly affected by that trauma actually had a plausible and interesting opportunity to actively, personally reject/rebuke/respond to all that. Which in a GoT climate isn't nothin', at least. I think the show has landed somewhere promisingly distant from where it started. I'm interested in the second season.

On the other hand, I can't blame any of my friends who noped out after a couple of episodes featuring sexual violence and murder proffered with just an implied "trust us, we're going somewhere with this" handwave. That was more than a couple friends.
posted by cortex at 1:34 PM on July 20, 2017 [9 favorites]


So we just have 6 1/2 years until it would stop being horrible, hooray!

Is this thing built on a previous mythology with a very-involved author that I'm not aware of?

Remember when the people who got mad about things they hadn't yet seen were evangelicals (Bruce Almighty, Dogma, etc.)?

If anyone here legit thinks this is going to be confederate cosplay is woefully misunderstanding the cultural climate about these types of shows. Game of the Thrones is not a red-state show and HBO is not a red-state network. They have attached themselves to the diversity trend because it is good for their brand as the purveyors of prestige drama for the newly-aware-of-their-privilege upper middle class.

If anything, this is going to be a "Wow, in this alternate history, the South is not very different than what it is now" and the think-pieces will get written and while some people may learn something about institutional racism from the show, most white liberals will tsk-tsk knowing that they are exempt from any blame in the horrors of the southern dystopia.
posted by R.F.Simpson at 1:36 PM on July 20, 2017 [2 favorites]


Thanks, cortex, that's exactly the kind of answer I was hoping for. I appreciate it.
posted by OmieWise at 1:37 PM on July 20, 2017


If anyone here legit thinks this is going to be confederate cosplay is woefully misunderstanding the cultural climate about these types of shows. Game of the Thrones is not a red-state show and HBO is not a red-state network. ...

If anything, this is going to be a "Wow, in this alternate history, the South is not very different than what it is now" and the think-pieces will get written and while some people may learn something about institutional racism from the show, most white liberals will tsk-tsk knowing that they are exempt from any blame in the horrors of the southern dystopia.


If that's how you're approaching it, I'd like to point you to Brandon Blatcher's poignant comment above, quoted in full.
Based on the summary of the show, which states America in the midst or brink of third Civil War, it sounds like the creators will show terrible things happening, but eventually GOOD will and prevail slavery will end.

This is a completely unoriginal idea that will drag me through a mental and emotional hell for a fictional salvation that's already been had in real life. I will literally get zero comfort from more repeated viewings of black people being treated poorly in America. I've seen numerous phone cam movies from the past year to illustrate that peculiar institutionalized bullshit.

It's like some people, mostly female, who noped the fuck out of Game of Thrones, because they were tired of seeing female characters abused. Sure, this season starts with some of those same characters in positions of power, but it doesn't matter, people have had their fill of seeing woman abused in real life and fiction and their tolerance for anymore of that bullshit is extremely low.

Same principle at work for this show. The fucking Confederacy was founded on the idea of white supremacy, and now these motherfuckers wanna name their show after this shit? Fuck them and fuck HBO for this completely shitty idea.
Or, as orangutan says, quite succinctly, also above, also quoted in full:
There's also the whole reliving and milking Black trauma for profit. I really hope this show never sees the light of day.
posted by anem0ne at 1:41 PM on July 20, 2017 [19 favorites]


If anything, this is going to be a "Wow, in this alternate history, the South is not very different than what it is now" and the think-pieces will get written and while some people may learn something about institutional racism from the show, most white liberals will tsk-tsk knowing that they are exempt from any blame in the horrors of the southern dystopia.

So, we're going to get a show where the premise demands that we be flooded with images of black trauma, and the absolute best we can hope for is something that white liberals will miss the point of. Based on how your comment started, I thought you were trying to convince us to give the show a chance.

I'll grant that the involvement of black writers moves this idea a few pegs up from where it started out, but there are all kinds of ways for shit to go pear-shaped between the page and the screen.
posted by tobascodagama at 1:42 PM on July 20, 2017 [12 favorites]


Just a clarification and then I'm noping out of this thread.

1. I am very much against a political protest for this type of thing. It hews too closely to Evangelical censorship. Don't watch the show, or protest it after it comes out, but to try to keep it from existing (especially since it's a prestige drama by faux-woke white liberals, not a talk show hosted by a Nazi) is politically backwards.

2. However, I'm all for cultural criticism of the show. Any show that exists in a capitalist, white-supremacist, women-hating climate is going to deserve cultural critique (from Black-ish and the Handmaid's Tale down to Duck Dynasty). I just think touting it as confederate cosplay is misreading the signifiers.
posted by R.F.Simpson at 1:51 PM on July 20, 2017 [1 favorite]


I'm just curious what the point of doing this series is. Like when the showrunners sat down and talked about it among themselves, what did they think would make this project so interesting that they felt it worth spending years of their lives on? What aspects or themes make this particular project worthy of their time?

Maybe they want to explore Reconstruction and how it could and should have gone, the challenges and effects of intergrating former masters and slaves? That could be interesting, that's not what I'm hearing.

but to try to keep it from existing (especially since it's a prestige drama by faux-woke white liberals, not a talk show hosted by a Nazi) is politically backwards.

It's perfectly legitimate and reasonable for people to contact HBO to let the network know they're totally against the idea based on how HBO and the showrunners described it. Why anyone would be against protesting this show, even at this point, is beyond me.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:57 PM on July 20, 2017 [12 favorites]


Don't watch the show, or protest it after it comes out, but to try to keep it from existing

This is a false dichotomy that omits an intermediate "talk about why it sounds like a shitty, ill-considered idea without literally trying to ban it" position that as far as I have seen is the dominant position of folks reacting critically to the pitch.
posted by cortex at 1:57 PM on July 20, 2017 [21 favorites]


1. I am very much against a political protest for this type of thing. It hews too closely to Evangelical censorship. Don't watch the show, or protest it after it comes out, but to try to keep it from existing (especially since it's a prestige drama by faux-woke white liberals, not a talk show hosted by a Nazi) is politically backwards.

2. However, I'm all for cultural criticism of the show. Any show that exists in a capitalist, white-supremacist, women-hating climate is going to deserve cultural critique (from Black-ish and the Handmaid's Tale down to Duck Dynasty). I just think touting it as confederate cosplay is misreading the signifiers.


I haven't seen many of #1, but you don't seem to be in support of #2, given that that's what a lot of people are doing and yet you seem to be complaining about.
posted by anem0ne at 2:03 PM on July 20, 2017 [5 favorites]


but to try to keep it from existing (especially since it's a prestige drama by faux-woke white liberals, not a talk show hosted by a Nazi) is politically backwards

Why is creating the show part of "the conversation" but saying prior to filming that the show is a bad idea and poorly conceived by people in over their heads, not? It's the same marketplace of ideas, even though, in truth, the advantage goes to the highly funded for profit corporation and their rich producers.
posted by OmieWise at 2:04 PM on July 20, 2017 [15 favorites]


If anyone here legit thinks this is going to be confederate cosplay is woefully misunderstanding the cultural climate about these types of shows. Game of the Thrones is not a red-state show and HBO is not a red-state network. They have attached themselves to the diversity trend because it is good for their brand as the purveyors of prestige drama for the newly-aware-of-their-privilege upper middle class.

Except they . . . haven't attached themselves to the diversity trend? Thinking of HBO's offerings, they don't seem like they're much more diverse now than they were ten years ago (maybe less so - they had the Wire 10 years ago). They've always been a prestige/high class signifier, but there's no reason why upper class signifiers and racism can't coexist (they do all the time!).

I mean, the show isn't going to even start production until Game of Thrones is over, so maybe it'll be greatly changed and revamped before it hits the screen, or maybe it will languish in development hell forever.
posted by dinty_moore at 2:07 PM on July 20, 2017 [6 favorites]


White Nationalism is a hell of a drug!

Wikipedia has an entire page and category for "American Civil War alternate histories" featuring for example novels by such luminaries as Newt Gingrich.
posted by XMLicious at 2:23 PM on July 20, 2017 [2 favorites]


I wish I had invested in straw futures, seems like there's a lot of it getting used around here lately.
posted by tobascodagama at 2:25 PM on July 20, 2017 [3 favorites]


Considering I've spent the last two days in a facebook argument with some dipshits who are defending Nathan Bedford Forrest as a damn hero, I'm sure there's an audience for this nonsense.

Saddened, weeping, and despairing for the country I wanted us to be, but pretty positive that these CSV, UDC brain-washed dipshits would love a chance to pretend there's a world that great grandpa Bobby is anything other than a traitorous asshole who lost.
posted by teleri025 at 2:27 PM on July 20, 2017 [2 favorites]


To repeat my earlier post: what if it ends up being Django Unchained: the television series. What are the downsides to that? People are making too many assumptions about what a Southern victory alternate history "has" to look like.
posted by Apocryphon at 2:35 PM on July 20, 2017


Like when the showrunners sat down and talked about it among themselves, what did they think would make this project so interesting that they felt it worth spending years of their lives on? What aspects or themes make this particular project worthy of their time?

My guess for the writers is that they're interested in showing the connections or analogies between the naked racism of the civil war south and that of the US today and that they'll also find additional parallels to make their point about the systems and events they focus on. Thinking of the series as being specific thing X in how it will look or how it shows its social order may be a bit premature, based on conjured imagery that may not quite match the shows imagined world.

I mean, yes, the confederate flag almost certainly will be there, but it may not be black people in chains and being whipped, but a more "modern" slavery that looks suspiciously more like our own time. There may also be other inventions, as I suggested earlier, I wouldn't be surprised in there is an alliance between a dominant "modern" Nazi Germany and the Confederate States allowing the show to link the Holocaust to slavery directly and perhaps make some representational changes to broaden the connections between genocidal imagery over the history of white oppression.

It also will give some chance to show what an opposition to the Confederacy would look like, and through analogy to the current system, what opposition might mean and what a more ideal representative group would look like in that challenge.

Those are at least some potentially meaningful things that could have drawn in the two lead writers, and may have interested the showrunners in the project, or it could be just money, fame, and cool story ideas they had. I don't know, but I'm willing to wait until I hear more before assuming the worst, even as that doesn't mean I'm going to assume the best and deny the sensible warnings and criticisms of the idea too. There is a lot that could go wrong and many who aren't happy already obviously.
posted by gusottertrout at 2:39 PM on July 20, 2017 [1 favorite]


I doubt there are, given postwar German laws are very strict about the use of Nazi iconography.

Yeah, the only one with which I'm familiar is It Happened Here (1965) about the Nazi occupation of the UK.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 3:02 PM on July 20, 2017 [1 favorite]


I do find it disappointingly expected that so many are willing to give a pair of white dudes so much good faith, freedom and latitude on how they might approach slavery in the modern day. Especially ones who have a history of more or less telling critics of their work, particularly on the violence and abuse visited upon women in a prurient fashion to fuck off. Especially ones who have shown absolutely no real history in approaching stories that directly involve white supremacy and its toxic interactions with people of color at all, let alone well.

There seems to be a presumption in favor of given them the chance to hang themselves. Okay, fine.

Then why isn't there the same sort of effort to throw similar sized budgets at PoC creators with questionable ideas? Why isn't there the same presumption of good faith? The same opportunities, the same chances?

Why is there such a rush to defend something like this?

I don't expect an answer, honestly. And I don't expect a lot of the defenders to have an honest answer either.
posted by anem0ne at 3:06 PM on July 20, 2017 [24 favorites]


I am very much against a political protest for this type of thing. It hews too closely to Evangelical censorship.

1. STOP. Just stop misusing the term "censorship", OK? We've been over this enough times that at this point czonflating protest with censorship indicates a lack of arguing good faith.

2. So basically, this argument goes, tge showrunners should have more freedom of speech than we do. They have the right to squat out whatever racist and sexist crap they want, and our ability reactions should be limited so it doesn't in any way inconvenience the white guys.

In short: our speech is not as free as their speech.

2. However, I'm all for cultural criticism of the show. Any show that exists in a capitalist, white-supremacist, women-hating climate is going to deserve cultural critique

Well that's just jolly. We don't get to actually protest, but gosh, we can critique. Maybe we can give a measured review in a literary journal, even. Oh yeah, that's fighting the good fight alright.

There's a certain sort of absolutist free speech advocate who seems to think speech should be completely free of any sort of reaction outside of the completly bloodlessly intellectual. The ideal is that the creator gets to put out whatever they want, and the reaction should only to be emotionlessly review and analyze it. Perhaps a polite set of rational counterarguements can be made, or some other creator can do their own project in response. Then everyone can lean back in their armchairs, sip on some port, and nod their heads: "Quite so. Persuasive argument, that."

All of which ignores the level of privilege that level of intellectual isolation requires. Not to mention it requires disregarding the people who describe the actual harm racist or sexist propaganda causes. It's free speech as a ping pong game, devoid of any real-world effect.
posted by happyroach at 3:34 PM on July 20, 2017 [24 favorites]


Apocryphon, your question seems to presume that Django was free from criticism. That was certainly not the case (and Tarantino is a prime example of a White writer/director who is often quite tone deaf in response to objections raised about his use of the n-word in his films or depictions of Black (or female) abuse....)
posted by TwoStride at 3:40 PM on July 20, 2017 [9 favorites]


Wikipedia also has a Hypothetical Axis victory in World War II article, for anyone who wants to look for particular sub-sub-genres.
posted by XMLicious at 3:51 PM on July 20, 2017


Sure. Tarantino has garnered that kind of criticism for decades. But I don't think it's unreasonable to say that people in this thread in general probably have more positive opinions of that film than they do towards this show that doesn't even exist yet.

Does anyone in this thread watch The Man in the High Castle? I mean there's only one reference to it, and it's a pun. What are the moral critiques of that show? Might they be relevant to the discussion of this one?

It seems like the main criticisms are about 1) it being an alternate history about the American Civil War with the South winning (see A.V. Club), and 2) it being helmed by D&D of GoT infamy. To 1) I'm not able to get into a long discussion into right now but just to point out that there are plenty of alternate history works about the civil war that aren't white nationalist fantasies, and even one linked to earlier in this thread- Underground Airlines by Ben Winters. To 2), D&D being behind this project doesn't inspire a lot of optimism, but this is the year that both Damon Lindelof and Zach Snyder (sort of, but not really, and only in the most minimal way by association with Patty Jenkins who seems much better) have redeemed themselves, so anything can happen in show business.

I'm not defending this project, mostly because it doesn't even exist yet other than information about the production and scant details about the premise. The rest is just speculation and premature controversy that will only help the people run this show spread awareness via word-of-mouth and surely get them more viewers than if people were to wait until it actually came out (or at least more details were disclosed) to rage against it!

I mean, there's the very simple possibility that the show will come out, lack any sense of the weight of history or verisimilitude or good world-building, and simply be a shitty shlocky show that exploits racial tensions and historical passions for cheap titillation, in conjunction with sex and ultra-violence. And without George R. R. Martin's much better world-building to actually lift it up. (Look at how much more mediocre GoT has gotten now it's gone beyond the books.) In which case we can simply treat it like True Detective season 2 and ignore it and move on. Why are we getting worked up about it this early on in the process???
posted by Apocryphon at 3:52 PM on July 20, 2017


have white content creators considered not being bad

just a thought
posted by poffin boffin at 3:56 PM on July 20, 2017 [25 favorites]


Sigh. Ben Winters is also not without controversy (and is another example of a white dude who wants to play in the Confederacy)...
posted by TwoStride at 3:58 PM on July 20, 2017 [4 favorites]


Yeah, and that same Wikipedia article points out that the controversy was created by the press which erased Winters' vocal praise for Octavia Butler, who he cited as a clear influence on his novel. How is he an example of a white dude who yearns for the antebellum South?
posted by Apocryphon at 4:02 PM on July 20, 2017


And for those who are all, "but they've got two Black people who will write with them!"

1). Being Black does not automatically get your work a pass (see: Tyler Perry movies. Or actually, please do not)
2). Get back to me when HBO gives development/show-running contracts to Black people who are not Oprah
posted by TwoStride at 4:02 PM on July 20, 2017 [8 favorites]


And that's why we should all watch Black Panther because hopefully blockbuster box office returns will convince the media execs to fund black creators and kick off a renaissance for Afro-Futuristic works because that would be cool as heck. We are in changing times for entertainment media and it might not be as far off as you'd think.
posted by Apocryphon at 4:06 PM on July 20, 2017 [8 favorites]


From that Vox article: Underground Airlines offers a more redemptive vision of the evils of slavery, one that imagines it as something you can heal from. It posits that slavery might insidiously take over your very body, but there will always be the possibility of escape. In contrast, Kindred says the wounds slavery inflicts are survivable, but that you’ll never be whole again... Still, there’s a difference between making slavery all about white people and developing a sophisticated critique of the way slavery poisons everyone it touches, including slave owners, and how difficult that relationship is for people of color to navigate. Kindred is confident enough to make that distinction clearly, but with Underground Airlines, Winters doesn’t quite trust himself enough to try.

I'd prefer to see more people stanning for Kindred to get a tv deal than for Winters' work.
posted by TwoStride at 4:07 PM on July 20, 2017 [5 favorites]


I found this article comparing Ben Winters' Underground Airlines with Colson Whitehead's The Underground Railroad a very good, detailed explanation about the differences in nuance between the views of slavery by a white person and a black person. Spoiler: it's not complimentary towards the white gaze.
posted by restless_nomad at 4:11 PM on July 20, 2017 [11 favorites]


My point is that you can have civil war alternate histories that aren't romantic fantasies of the antebellum South, and that even if UA is problematic and worthy of criticism, it's an example of an ACW alternate history that shouldn't appeal to Lost Causers.

It would be interesting to compare this project with other alternate histories written by African Americans.
posted by Apocryphon at 4:19 PM on July 20, 2017


2). Get back to me when HBO gives development/show-running contracts to Black people who are not Oprah

Maybe you should tune in this Sunday?
posted by Fidel Cashflow at 4:45 PM on July 20, 2017 [4 favorites]


Does anyone think that Issa Rae has the power/$$ that the GoT dudes have?
posted by TwoStride at 4:54 PM on July 20, 2017 [5 favorites]


Thanks to HBO's tits and ass quota, I assume that a female slave will be violently and graphically raped in the first 15 minutes of Confederate. But don't worry, later on they'll show (in equally graphic detail) a "consensual" relationship between a slave and a slaveowner -- you know, a cheerful note to balance things out. At some point during the season, the slave will choose LOVE over FREEDOM.

So, basically, a series out of the 1970s blaxploitation movie, Mandingo?

Sigh. Ben Winters is also not without controversy (and is another example of a white dude who wants to play in the Confederacy)...

And hide behind Black character to do it. The Black main character in Underground Airlines was in my view a White guy with black skin. It did not appear to me that Winters had the knowledge to create a believable inner voice for Black man who'd escaped from slavery and was for all intents and purposes still living as a slave.
posted by fuse theorem at 5:23 PM on July 20, 2017 [1 favorite]


I haven't read through this discussion yet, but what if this show turns Confederates (as a pop cultural concept) into a mook villain similar to Nazis, cannon fodder orc zombies imbued of pure evil and fit only for destruction

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter had a bit of this where the Confederate vampire soldiers were mowed down in large numbers. It could have been improved upon if the plantation owners were vampires, though, subverting both the "desireable wealthy vampire" trope AND the "cultured southern plantation gentleman" trope at the same time.
posted by deanc at 5:27 PM on July 20, 2017 [2 favorites]


Does anyone think that Issa Rae has the power/$$ that the GoT dudes have?

doesn't matter if she can be used as a token, a talisman, to silence other poc. it's a common tactic.
posted by anem0ne at 5:40 PM on July 20, 2017 [10 favorites]


The only thing that gives me any hope that this might not be a trainwreck is that David Benioff wrote The 25th Hour.

Anyway, the alternate history I want to see is one where Japan won the battle of Khalkin Gol.
posted by the duck by the oboe at 5:51 PM on July 20, 2017


Not to derail too much but how do people feel about the upcoming Lovecraft Country also coming from HBO?
posted by Ashwagandha at 7:40 PM on July 20, 2017


Does anyone in this thread watch The Man in the High Castle?

No, the premise sounded boring and naive. GOT IT, Nazis are and were bad, don't need to spend my time watching them do more horrific crap, even in fiction.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:45 PM on July 20, 2017 [2 favorites]


Nazis are and were bad, don't need to spend my time watching them do more horrific crap

I think this might be bit of a misreading of the show and the book that it is based on. I think there's more going on with both but hey whatever, chacun à son goût.
posted by Ashwagandha at 8:06 PM on July 20, 2017 [3 favorites]


Does anyone in this thread watch The Man in the High Castle

I do. Been a while but I'll give it a shot.

I really liked the first season though and found that I spent much of it pondering the what ifs and made me think a lot. It's not just about Nazis completely taking over America. There are three factions playing against each other. Japan on the West Coast, Free America in the middle and Germany in the East. I found the relationships between the three forces the most interesting.

Watching the second season was very hard. It felt like a new show and not because the show itself had changed. The world I was watching it from had changed and informed my viewing to such an extent that I came close to not finishing it because it was scary.

One of the main characters of the show is an American, one just a regular soldier who fought the Nazi's, who joined the new Nazi government and was high up in the power ladder. After the election the speculation about the ease that many Americans made the transition from enemy of the Nazis to accepting and working with them lost it's 'fiction' appeal. It became way more real and possible. It lost the safety found in 'this could never happen' and moved to 'holy crap this sorta is happening because some of the things these nazi people spout were spouted by the new President and his followers and holy shit he was elected...fuck' It caused me pain.

I'm think that the change in how I viewed the second season may be realted to some of the reactions the premise of this new HBO show is getting. It's too real and possible because culturally and politically it's still being fought in many aspects. It's still so prominent in all sorts of American discourse. It is still causing cultural and individual pain.
posted by Jalliah at 8:27 PM on July 20, 2017 [14 favorites]


Not to derail too much but how do people feel about the upcoming Lovecraft Country also coming from HBO?

I haven't read it, though there seems to be a lot of Lovecraftian stuff coming out recently that interrogates the sexism and racism of the original that's been really really good - I'm thinking The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe and The Ballad of Black Tom which were both up for a Hugo for best Novella this year. Newer versions of Lovecraft in general do a lot better job of interrogating the racist and sexist parts of the original text than alt-history tends to do with the Confederacy.

The main difference I notice between the description of Lovecraft Country and the description of Confederate is who is centered as the protagonist. Lovecraft Country is specifically told from the perspective of a black family, and Confederate is:

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.

I mean, you can make the case that families of people in their thrall could be slaves, or they can be free while other family members are not, but even so - they're last in a very long list. That's why I think the comparisons to the Handmaid's Tale are so off base - like, if we were describing the Handmaid's Tale and saying the cast was "The Commander, Nick, Luke, Serena Joy and some handmaidens", it would be a very, very different story.

Then there's the fact that Misha Green (of Underground) and Jordan Peele are probably more likely to do right with the racial aspects of the series, and also the fact that Lovecraft - while racist - doesn't hold the same cultural weight as the Confederacy and slavery by a long shot.

Honestly, between this, Who Fears Death, and Confederacy, Lovecraft Country is definitely the one that I feel the best about at this point. I mean, still super early on - who knows if any of them are actually going to be on our TV screens at this point, or what they will look like when they're on there. Who Fears Death has a lot of rape and genital mutilation that's central to the story, and I'm a little worried about George RR Martin being in charge of adapting that.
posted by dinty_moore at 8:46 PM on July 20, 2017 [10 favorites]


I don't even know if they will get enough people to watch this show to justify its cost. A medieval fantasy setting is far removed enough to create popcorn entertainment out of extreme premium cable content, but I don't think a modern day situation with recognizable prejudices (besides sexism) would be. The tits and violence contingent would shrink because of that and prominently featured black actresses. A lot of Americans don't want to be reminded of slavery, only of Civil War glories - even the history buffs. Black audiences can't be the primary focus of this after the cancellation of 'Underground.' So who is going to tune in every week? They've been having a... less than perfect run with shows like 'Leftovers' and 'Vinyl' lately, even with big names attached.
posted by Selena777 at 9:00 PM on July 20, 2017


> I'm not sure how, but CSA is viewable on YouTube yt .

I recommend anyone who hasn't seen it yet check it out while they can. It's very good.
posted by homunculus at 10:20 PM on July 20, 2017


Watching the second season was very hard. It felt like a new show and not because the show itself had changed. The world I was watching it from had changed and informed my viewing to such an extent that I came close to not finishing it because it was scary.

This. I loved the first season of Man In The High Castle, and was super excited to watch the second season. I still haven't watched even one episode, because it was no longer an interesting hypothetical to watch the premise "what if 'good Americans' were lured by various factors of fascism" when there are real people in the world who are signing their souls over to the Trump administration right now for temporal power and the promise of a world without "undesirables" in it.

Similarly, I give the side eye to anyone who's like "I'm going to make a show about slavery and it's going to cleverly talk about how racism is still happening RIGHT NOW!" Like, no shit you asshole, where have you been for the last fucking year, where we have skinheads and Nazis in the halls of the White House your clever takes are completely unneeded, this shit is scary enough and doesn't need to be viewed through the lens of fiction.
posted by corb at 11:02 PM on July 20, 2017 [15 favorites]


Then why isn't there the same sort of effort to throw similar sized budgets at PoC creators with questionable ideas? Why isn't there the same presumption of good faith? The same opportunities, the same chances?

While I'm not defending the show as a concept, I'm not eager to condemn it out of hand either specifically because it is show about racism in America being written by two people of color. I have no reason nor right to condemn their attempt to tell whatever story about that issue they see fit out of hand, at least not before knowing anything else about it.

The worries of other PoC on the issue are also a serious concern, particularly in exhibiting more symbols of white supremacy and enacting it for profit, but I find it unpalatable to simply assume Tramble and Spellman signed on for less than noble reasons or that they somehow "don't deserve a pass" just by dint of a vague announcement of a plan alone. That too would strike me as tokenism, where I wouldn't be seeing Tramble and Spellman as conscious actors in their own interests, just pawns of the two white guys.

Empire was developed by a black and white pair of creators and had a white showrunner, but it clearly found an appreciative audience among PoC. Get Out didn't sound very promising in the abstract, but it too found much support. The Handmaid's Tale is a dystopian fiction that renders plain some of the long standing issues of sexism, but since it comes from an admired novel instead of just being announced as a concept it escaped criticism for reenacting known and constant sexist action in our history and current environment. Birth of a Nation, before the rape allegations against its creator was also seen as an important story to tell.

There can be disagreement on any or all of these things, and I agree there are legitimate concerns involved, but as someone who has long wanted to see more women and people of color involved in telling the stories they want to tell, I can't then deny that by challenging those stories because they are uncomfortable seeming in outline or don't fit what I want to hear the writers say.

Yes, it would be far more encouraging were Tramble and Spellman actually the one's who were completely in charge of the series, but their positions as writers and exec producers are of more significance than they are seeming to be given credit for, and the connection of Benioff and Weiss to Game of Thrones not enough reason alone to assume they aren't taking this idea seriously or intend to be exploitative about it.

The show, if it gets made, may be a miserable failure, horrible in the ways people imagine, or not. It may be surprising and provocative in more meaningful and illuminating ways or somewhere in-between. I don't know and won't make claims either way, and I won't choose between Twitter speculation and those working on the show without more information. If the anger over the issue from other PoC is sufficient to end production of the show, that is fine with me too. I just don't see why there needs to be definitive opinions from the rest of us on something that is so uncertain in so many ways right now.
posted by gusottertrout at 1:03 AM on July 21, 2017


Lovecraft Country, the book anyway, puts a layer of magic on the Jim Crow era and most of the threats the protagonists face are far more to with Jim Crow than anything magic. It doesn't really offer any major deviations from history outside of the added supernatural elements.

(It's also not super Lovecraftian but that's neither here nor there)
posted by Artw at 6:04 AM on July 21, 2017 [1 favorite]


I think this might be bit of a misreading of the show and the book that it is based on. I think there's more going on with both but hey whatever, chacun à son goût.

Totally possible, a lot of people have said it's quite good. But for me, personally, the question was "Do I have to watch Nazis doing terrible things, again?" The answer was yes, so I noped out. Had a similar reaction to Handmaid's Tale. I've read the book, don't need to watch what I've heard is a good show.

Because there's a ton of other good media out there, so why subject oneself to another retread of humanity being horrible?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:24 AM on July 21, 2017 [9 favorites]


I guess one of the reasons I feel so negatively about this show is that we have POC here on the Blue and IRL who are rightfully furious about two white guys pitching and then getting greenlit a show that revisits one of the most heinous parts of American history. There have been clear examples in this thread alone, so it feels tone deaf to say to them, "Listen, why don't you just wait until the show comes out and then make a judgement call? Just watch black bodies being tortured, raped, and demeaned, and then judge it."

To add: I've read their released statement on the blowback and it does not reassure me one whit.
posted by Kitteh at 6:46 AM on July 21, 2017 [8 favorites]


Vulture interview the producers, both D&D along with Malcolm and NIchelle Spellman (who are black). It's repeatedly made clear that Malcolm and Nichelle are equal partners in determining the direction of the show. D&D very much understood that they need black voices in the creation of the show.

Otherwise, their response isn't great, but not terrible either. Mostly they chide people for criticizing something they don't even have an outline for yet. They do view the show asmore scifi-ish, according to Nichelle Spellman :
In this futuristic world, you could have this conversation in a straightforward manner without it being steeped in history: “What does this look like now.” I think what was interesting to all of us was that we were going to handle this show, and handle the content of the show, without using typical antebellum imagery. There is not going to be, you know, the big Gone With the Wind mansion. This is present day, or close to present day, and how the world would have evolved if the South had been successful seceding from the Union. And what was also exciting to me was the idea that in order to build this, we would have to rebuild world history … Okay, if this had happened here, how did the rest of the world change? That was another huge bonus factor for me — the idea of rewriting some of the history of, like, the French Revolution. What happened in the entire world if that one event had ended differently?
It still sounds like a completely variation on a terrible idea that's already been done multiple times in the past. Because no matter what, the show will have to repeatedly show black people being treated horribly, over multiple episodes and seasons and who needs that?

They've already botched the introduction of the idea of the show, so they're off to terrible start in handling the subject matter.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:50 AM on July 21, 2017 [7 favorites]


Vulture interview the producers

WTF:
In a dorky way, I guess it goes back to — we’re both history nerds. I remember reading a history of the Civil War, I think it might have been the Shelby Foote one. And there’s a famous story, which I’m going to mash up, because my memory’s not what it used to be — but there’s a famous story of when Robert E. Lee was invading the North. Not the Gettysburg invasion, but an earlier one. And the set of orders got misplaced and were found by a Northern soldier. And it ended up ruining Lee’s invasion.
They don't know about the Battle of Antietam, and they're referencing Shelby Foote?! These assholes don't even have a middle-school grasp of the war, and their inspiration is coming from a guy who has mostly been discredited for his romanticisation of the Confederacy and fondness for the Lost Cause narrative. That's not a good sign at all. Maybe if they spent the next couple years researching the Civil War, avoiding the CSA apologist historians as nothing but cautionary tales, this might be a good idea. But as it stands now, we'd be getting something from people who have a deeper knowledge of a imaginary fantasy world than the history of their own fucking country. Adam Serwer makes a very good case here:
If you can't recall the name of the Battle of Antietam and first historian you name is Foote, you shouldn't make a show about the Civil War. "We are huge history nerds. What's the name of that big battle again?" Also the story of the battle of Antietam is not that Lee nearly won the war, but that he nearly lost it, if McClellan hadn't been a coward. Imagine walking into an interview about your show about the civil war that has caused backlash and having this weak a grasp of the history. This show is probably going to be a disaster because the GoT producers don't even respect the material let alone put in time to study it. And don't even get me started on the precious Lee mythologizing embedded in the premise. I hope I'm wrong or that something changes but the fact that they walked into that interview having done zero homework suggests otherwise. There are a million ways to imagine the union losing; the fact that the premise is the Great Hero Bobby Lee winning says a great deal. This isn't a show about dragons and ice zombies. Watching Ken Burns civil war a couple of times ain't gonna cut it.
I just don't see why there needs to be definitive opinions from the rest of us on something that is so uncertain in so many ways right now.

Because pretty much every sign that would point to this being a monumental fuck-up is already on display. People should really stop trying to defend these guys and start listening to the overwhelming criticism, especially when it's coming from African-Americans. Noting all the ways this could go bad isn't "censorship," either, so they can stop hyperventilating over that, too.
posted by zombieflanders at 7:27 AM on July 21, 2017 [23 favorites]


Yeah, when both renowned Civil War historians like Eric Foner and Black actors are both like, "this is a no for me" I really think we've had enough of people being like "but give the white dudes a chance, I'm sure they're up on their history (and they're bringing two Black friends)!"
posted by TwoStride at 7:34 AM on July 21, 2017 [12 favorites]


I remember reading interviews with them about Game of Thrones and they weren't even familiar with Westeros lore, much less the vastly more complicated subject of the Civil War, southern history, and the interior lives of folk who are not like them. All you had to do to prepare for Game of Thrones was read 6 books!?! and yet it felt like maybe they stopped partway through.
posted by tofu_crouton at 7:35 AM on July 21, 2017 [4 favorites]


I loved the first season of Man In The High Castle, and was super excited to watch the second season. I still haven't watched even one episode, because it was no longer an interesting hypothetical to watch the premise "what if 'good Americans' were lured by various factors of fascism" when there are real people in the world who are signing their souls over to the Trump administration right now for temporal power and the promise of a world without "undesirables" in it.

IMO, what's most moving about the second season is that it starts to try to reckon with what "resistance" might be in such circumstances and even more movingly with the costs of such resistance. It's still bleak and brutal and immensely sad—I got to the point where I couldn't watch the opening credits without tears. But ultimately I found it pretty cathartic.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:48 AM on July 21, 2017 [2 favorites]


In a dorky way, I guess it goes back to — we’re both history nerds. I remember reading a history of the Civil War, I think it might have been the Shelby Foote one.

As a side note: the whole mainstreaming of "I'm such a nerd! I love to nerd out about [totally mainstream, lightweight thing], gosh how dorkily intellectual I am, I know you find that weird and dorky but I just can't help being such a nerdy intellectual" trope is, man, such a problem.

No, you are not a "history nerd". Sorry. If you were a history nerd - and I would never describe myself as a history nerd but I have a casual interest in history - you would almost certainly not be the busy producer of GoT. Instead, you would be an academic, or someone whose life left them ample time for serious study, and you would be hired to consult projects with pretensions to seriousness about your area of expertise. "I have a casual interest in this topic and read the occasional article or popular book" isn't "being a history nerd". There's nothing wrong with a casual interest - the vast majority of anyone's intellectual interests will be casual unless they're very lucky - but that's not the same as a scholarly interest.

This whole "I love to nerd out!!! Science1!!! I'm such a geek!!" thing is almost always spouted by people who have zero theory of how to understand stuff. Forgivable when you're a teenager because you're still building up enough intellectual foundation to even start to have a theory of how things are, but not in an adult.

I mean, holy crap, I have, like, spent a lot of spare intellectual time over my entire adult life developing some ideas about science fiction as a genre and I would hesitate to say that I am "such a science fiction theory nerd" because it's readily apparent how much I haven't read and don't know. Frederic Jameson is such a science fiction theory nerd. Samuel Delany is such a science fiction theory nerd. Donna Haraway is such a science fiction theory nerd. Justine L'Arbalestier and Timmi Du Champ are such science fiction theory nerds. I am not. I just like science fiction theory.

Stop talking about what a fucking brainiac you are unless you are actually routinely considering actual scholarly material, is what I'd say to these dudes.
posted by Frowner at 8:20 AM on July 21, 2017 [20 favorites]


I just don't see why there needs to be definitive opinions from the rest of us on something that is so uncertain in so many ways right now.

This is an incredibly odd thought. People offer all sorts of definitive opinions on a wide range of ideas, from visiting Paris to putting ketchup on eggs. There's no reason why this particular idea should be immune from opinions or analysis. If anything, the creators should be seeking this out, because the idea is such minefield.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:22 AM on July 21, 2017 [5 favorites]


> In this futuristic world, you could have this conversation in a straightforward manner without it being steeped in history:

What?!?
posted by rtha at 8:32 AM on July 21, 2017 [3 favorites]


From the Vulture article: "Nichelle Tramble Spellman: [...] That was another huge bonus factor for me — the idea of rewriting some of the history of, like, the French Revolution."

Are they.. are they going all the way back to the Revolutionary War? Or do they not know when the French Revolution(s) took place? All four of them did this Vulture interview to address the concerns and criticisms that flared up over the past few days but boy oh boy -- between this French Revolution thing and the not remembering the Battle of Antietam and also Shelby Foote, this interview does not inspire much confidence. Also, Benioff alludes to a second Civil War in the 20th Century. If they're not able to put the pieces together and infer that one of the most likely scenarios here (ceteris paribus) is that the Confederacy joins up with Hitler and the Axis powers, given Hitler's admiration of Jim Crow America, then I just dunno.

Anyways, probably the cleanest way to turn this whole "but what if slavery existed today?" premise into something that's not going to be a shit-show is if this is all a fake-out and they turn it into a docudrama about our present-day prison-industrial complex. Activist Samuel Sinyangwe (@samswey) wrote on Twitter earlier this year about how the Louisiana legislature basically uses prisoners as servants. Also, this is precisely why "but what if Hitler won?" is different than "but what if the South won?" alt-histories. Germany has reckoned with its role in WWII in ways that the USA has absolutely not done about its role in slavery, Jim Crow, Reconstruction/Redemption, segregation, etc ... These are all still very, very open wounds.
posted by mhum at 8:32 AM on July 21, 2017 [8 favorites]


There have been clear examples in this thread alone, so it feels tone deaf to say to them, "Listen, why don't you just wait until the show comes out and then make a judgement call? Just watch black bodies being tortured, raped, and demeaned, and then judge it."

Some form of the "just wait and give it a chance" is always used to try to shut PoC up.

I mean, gusottertrout, why am I not surprised you're pretty much saying the same goddamn thing again?

Here, and in that thread, you criticise those of us criticizing the situation as if we're the ones doing wrong. We get it. You don't like the white supremacy in theory, but in practice you certainly seem to defend it in a sort of sideways way.
posted by anem0ne at 9:10 AM on July 21, 2017 [9 favorites]


This is an incredibly odd thought. People offer all sorts of definitive opinions on a wide range of ideas, from visiting Paris to putting ketchup on eggs. There's no reason why this particular idea should be immune from opinions or analysis. If anything, the creators should be seeking this out, because the idea is such minefield.

You're right that people will have opinions and share them, that's fine, but feeling compelled to have a strong one is what I'm objecting to, especially for people outside the circle potentially most affected by the show, for good or ill. I'm personally more concerned with not rushing to judgment due to my belief in the value of artists expressing themselves as they desire, in this instance, I'm primarily thinking of Tramble and Spellman, with Benioff and Weiss only as collaborators. So it isn't about the white guys for me, but giving artists of color the same sorts of chances to make shows and even fuck up like we do the white guys.

If Tramble and Spellman succeed, this is how they build capital and can potentially launch their own shows without the need for white guys from hit shows. It isn't that I care about Tramble and Spellman specifically, from some history of past appreciation or whatnot, but that I'm not willing to judge their investment here without some stronger evidence of failure. I don't think that's a fair or equitable position for me to take about something so ambiguous. For artists of color to succeed, they need opportunity, and so many times their approach is staggered by criticism from those who's support they most need. I'm not willing to do that yet, even as I don't deny the potential problems they are faced with in trying to make this show.

That criticism, when informed by meaningful history, is important too, but the volume of twitter cacophony doesn't make it more so, just noisier. So my attitude is to preach some caution before listening to the doomsayers outside those truly informed. I only object to that stance being seen as sticking up for the white boys as if I didn't care at all or didn't want to think about the issue. Taking time to think and listen to more about the show and objections to it is the whole point.
posted by gusottertrout at 9:13 AM on July 21, 2017


> I'm not willing to judge their investment here without some stronger evidence of failure

They don't even seem to have a high-school-level grasp of the historical time they're supposedly engaging with, and don't seem to realize (or care?) that they don't. This does not engender trust.
posted by rtha at 9:16 AM on July 21, 2017 [6 favorites]


Here, and in that thread, you criticise those of us criticizing the situation as if we're the ones doing wrong. We get it. You don't like the white supremacy in theory, but in practice you certainly seem to defend it in a sort of sideways way.

You're right, I am standing up for the same thing, the artists, though in that previous thread I explained it poorly, to my embarrassment. I won't repeat what I just said, but ask that you think of both threads as being based in concern for the artist beyond the injustice of the system, holding those two things separate as much as possible, and judge my statements from that, even if you disagree.
posted by gusottertrout at 9:22 AM on July 21, 2017


At least you're consistent. I'll remain consistent too, swapping out one or two words from my immediate response from that thread:
i get that you want to seem fair and balanced, gusottertrout, but to be honest, at this point, "waiting to see" after yet another asian character is whitewashed more black bodies are tortured and abused for "entertainment" to see just how bad it is is like giving trump a chance after his election.
posted by anem0ne at 9:26 AM on July 21, 2017 [5 favorites]


Roy Wood Jr on The Daily Show last night:
"Why do we need this? We already have a show about black people working hard for no money-- it's called college basketball."
posted by numaner at 9:39 AM on July 21, 2017 [4 favorites]


Interestingly, people should both only criticise a work after seeing it's full production, because otherwise you act on incomplete information, but also any criticism after initial development has no chance of affecting the work.

gusottertrout, if you could just come out and say that all criticisms like these of the GitS and Confederacy project should simply stop, as your combined objections clearly indicate, that would be much most honest of you.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:42 AM on July 21, 2017 [5 favorites]


Because there's a ton of other good media out there, so why subject oneself to another retread of humanity being horrible?

Writing in general terms as just experiencing stories/media and not really about Confederate or TMitHC, it gets boring. Sometimes I want something uplifting, sometimes I went something shitty, sometimes I want something inbetween, and sometimes I don't even know that I wanted something until I'm in the middle of it. To put it another way, I love tonkotsu ramen, but I certainly don't and can't eat it every day.
posted by FJT at 9:47 AM on July 21, 2017


My first thought when I learned of this was OH HBO NO

Mine was a rapid misunderstanding leading me to be quite curious abot a Confederacy of Dunces television show (which would likely be awful) but then I took that famous second take and my reaction was HBOnoGO and of course utter dismay.
posted by juiceCake at 9:51 AM on July 21, 2017 [4 favorites]


Taking time to think and listen to more about the show and objections to it is the whole point.

You've given the arguments of a tiny minority who have repeatedly demonstrated a failure to comprehend the plain facts of the historical record (let alone the centuries of economic, social, political, and cultural context) the same or more weight as the overwhelming majority who still feel the effects of the Confederacy as sharp as any whip, and even the descendants of those who were themselves enslaved. You may claim that you're "trying to listen to both sides" (which, WTF), but you're very clearly only taking the time to actually think and listen to one of them.

I won't repeat what I just said, but ask that you think of both threads as being based in concern for the artist beyond the injustice of the system, holding those two things separate as much as possible

That's an explicit act of erasure and enabling of racism, so not only is no one here obligated to do this, but the ask is itself is immensely offensive.
posted by zombieflanders at 10:03 AM on July 21, 2017 [11 favorites]


That's an explicit act of erasure and enabling of racism, so not only is no one here obligated to do this, but the ask is itself is immensely offensive.

I was asking it of my responses in the threads, not the threads as a whole, and it was in suggesting the works are a part of a racist system, but not solely from that system as the artists involved shape the works beyond the systemic effect. The works can have meaning beyond the racist system, questioning it, damning it, or complying with and strengthening it, and I can't say which without knowing the work itself.

That isn't saying the production is beyond criticism, but that there is a reason to separate criticism of the system from that of the work in some instances and to accept there are times one doesn't have adequate information in others, from my perspective. Your's may differ and I don't object to that unless it suggests a demand for agreement or acceptance of information not clearly in evidence.

I clearly place the importance of the artist's communicating their interests on a different sort of level than many or most. Maybe too much so, but it art is a signal interest of mine that I believe carries great importance to society. Where the boundaries of acceptable and unacceptable for any given work or artist may be is not fixed in my belief, so it isn't an argument against criticizing works ever or as a whole, but with the idea of holding artistic communication as of high import and seeking the best way of of engaging it with that as a concern.

It is with that in mind that I strongly support more engagement with women and minority artists from around the world, but also support letting the art speak for itself once made no matter by whom. The tension in that is that of the system which is built around funding white male artists primarily and in audiences who support them overwhelmingly. My stance is in maintaining support of the arts in toto so minority artists will receive the same benefits as whites when given the opportunities and with that pushing people to support minority artists instead of just seeing whatever big event work is most hyped.

The attempt is to suggest people separate the workings of the system from that of the artist, and see when the racism is primarily systemic issue, as in the casting for GitS, and not conflate those with artistic efforts when there is a conflict. It isn't to say artists don't have problems with race or gender, but that perception thereof isn't necessarily as definitive as it may seem to be, and that prescriptive art is not a solution.
posted by gusottertrout at 10:41 AM on July 21, 2017


I think there's distance between the abstract principle of wanting to advance and protect the opportunities of minority artists in a systemically racist system (just about everybody here probably supports that) and the practical fact that we're talking about some really sketchy first impression PR from a major media company.

You want to hold back and give the future imagined production the benefit of the doubt and hold your judgement until then? Cool. You have that option. Folks might disagree strongly with the premise that, from what we've heard about this project from its creators, it's particularly deserving of that kind of pointed forbearance, but no one will take that preference away from you. But people aren't responding in this case to "what if two black writers made some television art"; defending the project preemptively on those terms is disingenuous. People are responding to what's actually being put out there by HBO and D&D et al, and what's being put out there is short on details and feels pretty goddam worthy of side-eye.

There's no show yet, yes. Critiquing a thing that doesn't exist is prediction, and it could be wrong. But there is a pitch, and a context in which that pitch is being made. The context of HBO and D&D's previous work; the context of the history of racism in the US and in media in the US; the context of the racist sociopolitical clusterfuck that is the contemporary US to which the show is being pitched. And the pitch sucks.

What does exist right now is the fact that money is being poured into a bad pitch for a show. People reacting to that choice to spend money on that bad pitch is a pretty basic and understandable critical reaction, and it's a reaction to something that does exist. You want to say maybe the show won't be as bad as the pitch? Okay, maybe it won't be. But that doesn't make the pitch not bad. And that doesn't mean people aren't entirely justified in reacting critically to the pitch. This is moneyed TV production from a media corporation, not a starving artist working quietly out of a their home studio. The pitch and the PR and all the business posturing that comes with selling it is part of it, and is absolutely fair game for critical response.

I can understand in principle an arms-length critical/theoretical posture of wanting to judge the actual thing rather than the pitch for the thing. But I don't think that, in this context, belaboring that principle is relevant or valuable, and I think there are a lot of artists and artistic ventures are more worthy of that kind of effort and attention if that's where you want your effort and attention to go.
posted by cortex at 11:04 AM on July 21, 2017 [22 favorites]


preach it Frowner! cf ."classically trained" when they mean, they took piano lessons for 5 years. "Classically trained" means to me, you did a conservatory education and had to sight-sing 12 tone rows and so on before they let you out.
posted by thelonius at 11:10 AM on July 21, 2017 [3 favorites]


That's absolutely fair cortex. I agree about seeking other works and regularly urge people to shun Hollywood shows and movies in order to combat the systemic racism supporting them encourages. I accept the criticism of my reaction and will shut up and listen now, sorry for the digression.
posted by gusottertrout at 11:23 AM on July 21, 2017 [1 favorite]


so it took a white dude explaining it...

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

might as well just link to that comment from cortex the next time this happens, which will probably be in a few months
posted by anem0ne at 11:26 AM on July 21, 2017 [24 favorites]


Here's Roy Wood, Jr.'s segment, which is worth a watch.
posted by TwoStride at 3:35 PM on July 21, 2017 [1 favorite]


And the always-impressive Roxane Gay: I Don't Want To Watch Slavery Fan Fiction.

And Teen Vogue continuing their amazing run on topics: Why HBO's 'Confederate' Is Completely Unnecessary (in short: because we don't live in a postracial society).
posted by TwoStride at 2:53 PM on July 25, 2017 [7 favorites]


Monique Judge: #NoConfederate: Let HBO Know Their Tone-Deaf Show Has Got To Go
“If HBO wants to do a show about the enslavement of black people, Underground exists, and it’s still looking for a home, and that is helmed by a black woman” [April] Reign said. “HBO could actually pick up that show, and we would all support that.”

Reign points out that Benioff and Weiss realize the leverage they have with HBO because of the success of Game of Thrones. She believes they should leverage the power that they have to amplify the voices of marginalized communities.

“Just as I said with #OscarsSoWhite, it would be great if the two of them would open the door to traditionally underrepresented folks so that more stories can be told,” Reign said.

“Clearly they’re under the impression that whatever they brought to HBO was going to be greenlit, so why not provide opportunities for others?”

Reign notes that over the years, Game of Thrones has been openly criticized for its lack of characters of color and lack of diversity behind the camera as well.

“This would be a great opportunity for Benioff and Weiss to expand, to broaden their frame of reference,” she said.
posted by zombieflanders at 5:52 AM on July 30, 2017 [5 favorites]




I know it won't happen, but it would be pretty funny if they made a series about a world that was literally our own but with a few words ostentatiously changed here and there.

"I got a big road contract starting next week. Better round up some [mouth obviously says "prisoners", but a badly dubbed "SLAVES" comes out instead]."
posted by Etrigan at 3:53 AM on July 31, 2017 [10 favorites]




So this is interesting:

Another alternate history drama series, which has been in the works at Amazon for over a year, also paints a reality where southern states have left the Union but takes a very different approach. Titled Black America, the drama hails from top feature producer Will Packer (Ride Along, Think Like A Man franchises, Straight Outta Compton) and Peabody-winning The Boondocks creator and Black Jesus co-creator Aaron McGruder. It envisions an alternate history where newly freed African Americans have secured the Southern states of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama post-Reconstruction as reparations for slavery, and with that land, the freedom to shape their own destiny. The sovereign nation they formed, New Colonia, has had a tumultuous and sometimes violent relationship with its looming “Big Neighbor,” both ally and foe, the United States. The past 150 years have been witness to military incursions, assassinations, regime change, coups, etc. Today, after two decades of peace with the U.S. and unprecedented growth, an ascendant New Colonia joins the ranks of major industrialized nations on the world stage as America slides into rapid decline. Inexorably tied together, the fate of two nations, indivisible, hangs in the balance.

Deadline announced the Packer/McGruder project back in early February. At the time, it was untitled, and the producers would not reveal any details about the storyline beyond it revolving around an alternate universe in the vein of Amazon’s flagship The Man in the High Castle.

It was HBO’s announcement of Confederate this month that prompted the Black America team to reveal the project’s premise. “It felt this was the appropriate time to make sure that audiences and the creative community knew that there was a project that preexisted and we are pretty far down the road with it,” Packer told Deadline
.

I am looking forward to seeing how this turns out.
posted by Cash4Lead at 9:42 AM on August 1, 2017 [19 favorites]


Wooo, shots fired by Amazon!

Meanwhile, I also thought that this was really important: He declined to comment directly on HBO’s Confederate, which Benioff and Weiss will be writing with Malcolm and Nichelle Tramble Spellman, out of respect to its creators because the series has not been made yet. On a personal level, “the fact that there is the contemplation of contemporary slavery makes it something that I would not be a part of producing nor consuming,” he said. “Slavery is far too real and far too painful, and we still see the manifestations of it today as a country for me to ever view that as a form of entertainment.”
posted by TwoStride at 1:36 PM on August 1, 2017 [3 favorites]


oh man I was just about to make an FPP for that. It sounds really interesting and I love that they've been working on it for a while and only spoke up because of the buzz about the HBO show.
posted by numaner at 1:50 PM on August 1, 2017 [2 favorites]


NOw that series sounds really interesting, especially this part:
"Today, after two decades of peace with the U.S. and unprecedented growth, an ascendant New Colonia joins the ranks of major industrialized nations on the world stage as America slides into rapid decline. Inexorably tied together, the fate of two nations, indivisible, hangs in the balance."
That sounds like good alt history that can speak a lot to what's going on today in America.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:26 PM on August 1, 2017 [7 favorites]


From Ta-Nehisi Coates at The Atlantic:
The symbols point to something Confederate’s creators don’t seem to understand—the war is over for them, not for us. At this very hour, black people all across the South are still fighting the battle which they joined during Reconstruction—securing equal access to the ballot—and resisting a president whose resemblance to Andrew Johnson is uncanny. Confederate is the kind of provocative thought experiment that can be engaged in when someone else’s lived reality really is fantasy to you, when your grandmother is not in danger of losing her vote, when the terrorist attack on Charleston evokes honest sympathy, but inspires no direct fear. And so we need not wait to note that Confederate interest in Civil War history is biased, that it is premised on a simplistic view of white Southern defeat, instead of the more complicated morass we have all around us.
posted by yasaman at 12:20 PM on August 4, 2017 [16 favorites]








HBO still doesn't get it, releasing a statement today that said, "We support everybody’s right to express an opinion but the suggestion of irresponsibility on our part is simply undeserved.{...} We recognize the sensitivity of this project and will treat it with the respect that it deserves. Our creative partners should be given time to develop the series rather than face prejudgment."
posted by Doktor Zed at 6:50 PM on August 14, 2017 [1 favorite]


Dear HBO,

NOT GONNA FUCKING HAPPEN.

Best,
Reality
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:53 PM on August 14, 2017 [7 favorites]


We all knew it before, but at this point do you think HBO has figured out that this shit is a bit too on the nose?
posted by OmieWise at 10:11 AM on August 18, 2017


It will be interesting to see if HBO sticks with the creators who were good at adapting an already told story and then gradually fell apart when they had to finish the story on their own.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:02 AM on August 18, 2017


Actor Says Game of Thrones Cut One of the Season's Most-Needed Reunions

Yep, it was amazing (in the worst way) that a scene containing Tyrion and Bronn had no interaction between them.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:40 AM on August 18, 2017 [1 favorite]


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