Why using a hashtag to “boycott” or raise awareness to HBO’s Confederate is ultimately ineffective without greater action.
When I heard that Game of Thrones showrunners (and hacks) David Benioff and Dan Weiss were thinking about doing a new series for HBO centered on slavery never ending, I just shook my head. So far the title of the show is Confederate… And I remain unsurprised and eternally chagrined. In other words, nothing’s changed as far as I’m concerned.
I guess I’m more surprised that people–especially those who make it their business to hashtag the fuck out of every outrage–are surprised. I mean, it’s them. Benioff and Weiss have figuratively shown their asses when it comes to non-white characters and women, but their intentional erasure of canon black characters like Chataya and Alayaya–two sex workers central to Tyrion’s storyline–at least four seasons ago was the canary in the mineshaft.
And even then they did nothing. I did nothing. Like them, I complained and gnashed my teeth when I learned Weiss and Benioff had substituted Chataya and Alayaya for a minor character named Ros (played by Esme Bianco). Ros is a white woman and sex worker, also. This time, however, the jig is up.
People are fucking tired of all of the “Isms” and phobias that they have to encounter on a daily basis as they just try to exist. Another show about the brutalization of marginalized people? Miss me with that. That in and of itself doesn’t require this much fucking outrage, however. Where the outrage stems from is because it’s Benioff and Weiss, and they are unworthy of a project such as Confederate. They lack the ability and the aptitude to tell the story well, if at all.
I’ve seen supporters of the show reference Amazon Prime’s The Man in the High Castle. That show is an entirely different animal–and it has its own issues. It doesn’t hurt that it’s based on an actual novel by Philip K. Dick. What is Confederate based on, aside from the showrunners’ perverse fascination with black brutalization for the benefit of racialized capitalism? And why should anyone of color trust these two when they’re utterly untrustworthy in regards to sincere storytelling?
We don’t need another show to add to the narrative about black people getting fucked up. We can see that shit weekly on CNN or Facebook Live. Viewers are supposed to abide by this ridiculousness quietly and without comment? Give me a break. I hope that whichever path critics of the show choose to take that Confederate dies in its most nascent stage, well before it has a chance to terrorize anyone’s psyche.
That said, I find the hashtag activism surrounding this entire spectacle to be naive and perturbing. All of the people involved in the creation of #NoConfederate are respected, experienced writers, bloggers, etc. They aren’t new to the game of entertainment and media. They’re also pretty smart, so the level of naivete on display with the creation of #NoConfederate is baffling. Why? Because it’s ineffective. If I were HBO, I’d laugh. Here’s why…
Just think about it. What message does it send to HBO, Weiss, and Benioff if you still watch Game of Thrones, the show that allowed them to even bring Confederate to the table? Simply not watching it won’t be enough. They’ll still get paid because of subscriptions… At least for a time. If we are this upset and want effective action, don’t watch Game of Thrones tonight, certainly don’t live-tweet it, and cancel your HBO subscription. Email whoever is in charge of programming or inundate their assistant with calls. Leave messages, too. If you choose to cancel HBO, be sure to let the representative taking your call that it’s because of Confederate. That’s hitting them where it hurts: In their coffers. FOX News and Bill O’Reilly can attest to that. The free publicity that Confederate has gotten as result of this entire hashtag, and the surrounding discussion, is just an added bonus.
I’m not saying it can’t possibly work. Watching Game of Thrones tonight while only using #NoConfederate could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. I just don’t think it’s as effective as letting HBO, and any other network that would follow suit, that if they don’t come correct, they don’t get our hard earned coins.
Either way, I hope Weiss and Benioff’s latest project bombs… That’s the goal and only thing that matters.