Despite the racist rally and subsequent violence in Charlottesville over the weekend, HBO still plans on forging ahead with its controversial series Confederate. The network was forced to release yet another statement defending the show, after neo-nazis and white supremacists descended on the small Virginia city to protest the removal of a Confederate statue.
“We support everybody’s right to express an opinion but the suggestion of irresponsibility on our part is simply undeserved,” the network said in response to he ramped up criticism it faced over the weekend. “HBO has a long history of championing intelligent storytelling and we will approach this project with the same level of thoughtfulness that has always defined our programming. 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.”
Is HBO being stubborn? It’s hard to imagine a show like Confederate—which is set in an alternate reality where the Confederacy never crumbled and slavery still exists—getting made in our current climate. On Saturday, Heather Heyer was protesting white supremacy in the streets of Charlottesville when she was murdered by a man who drove his car into a group of protesters, injuring 19 others. President Trump took three days to grudgingly condemn the hate groups responsible for the violence. On the previous night, torches lit up the streets of Charlottesville as white supremacists marched through the streets shouting racially-charged slogans.
In other words, we don’t need a TV show to help us imagine what it might look like if the Confederacy had won the Civil War. All we have to do is turn on the nightly news. April Reign—who started the popular #NoConfederate hashtag, said that the events in Charlottesville prove that “we have not fully reconciled what the Confederacy means.”
“How is this an alt-history when we have things like Charlottesville playing out?” she told the New York Times. Reign wasn’t the only one who felt that HBO should shelve this project once and for all.
Everyone watching Charlotte tonight, should tweet HBO to cancel production of their modern day slavery series: #Confederate. Not now or ever— debraj1121 expand a child’s world w a diverse book (@debraj112) August 12, 2017
Things like #Charlottesville are why the HBO "Confederate” series is flawed.— Patrick Quaife (@pquaife) August 12, 2017
We don’t need alternate history.
Present day still exists.
Hey HBO someone leaked your confederate show into real life.— Jesse McLaren (@McJesse) August 12, 2017
Today would be a really good day for #HBO to put a pause on the Confederate writer’s room. Yesterday would’ve been better…— Jeffrey Lieber (@JeffLieber) August 12, 2017
HBO has said that D.B. Weiss and David Benioff won’t begin production on Confederate until Game of Thrones has wrapped up, which means it’ll be at least two years before we see a single frame. That extended grace period is probably why HBO has refused to axe the program despite the growing outcry. Its hope is that the current tensions might eventually subside and people will move on. But as long as Trump is in office, and Jeff Sessions is the head of the DOJ, and voter suppression is real and antagonism towards civil rights continues, Confederate will continue to be a lightning rod.