Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Writer/Producers of New Slavery Drama ‘Confederate’ Address Backlash

*“Game of Thrones” creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss are defending their next project in the wake of outrage over its premise – an alternate universe where America’s southern states successfully seceded from the union after the Civil War and slavery continues to thrive.

Titled “Confederate,” the future HBO show has been lambasted by critics questioning the decision to have the story told by two white men, although Benioff and Weiss will be working on the project along with African Americans Nichelle Tramble Spellman (“Justified,” “The Good Wife”) and Malcolm Spellman (“Empire”).

The producing team defended the project in an interview with Vulture, urging patience given that no scripts have even been written yet.

“Everything is brand new and nothing’s been written,” said Weiss. “I guess that’s what was a little bit surprising about some of the outrage. It’s just a little premature. You know, we might f–k it up. But we haven’t yet.”

Nichelle Tramble Spellman said she understands the backlash, but agrees with Weiss that it is premature. “I wish their concern had been reserved to the night of the premiere, on HBO, on a Sunday night, when they watched and then they made a decision after they watched an hour of television as to whether or not we succeeded in what we set out to do,” she said.

Added Malcolm Spellman, “You cannot litigate this on Twitter. It’s not possible.”

The producers say they expected to be met with some backlash, but not as much as what occurred. “You’re dealing with weapons-grade material here,” said Spellman.

The producers explained that their narrative isn’t a defense of slavery or an endorsement of white supremacist ideas. “This is not a world in which the entire country is enslaved,” he said. “Slavery is in one half of the country. And the North is the North… The imagery should be no whips and no plantations.”

According to Variety, the foursome said they’ve known each other for a decade, and that they’re approaching this project as a true collaboration.

“The reality is, ‘Game of Thrones’ has been a successful show for HBO, which has put us in a position to come and pitch another show and get them excited about it. And that’s what helped get us here,” said Benioff. “But when we sit down and map out this show, and the season, and the characters, it’ll be the four of us arguing about everything.”

But they acknowledged the high-wire act of the concept. “This is scary, for all of us. It’s scary for different reasons. But it is a pretty terrifying prospect getting into it. We knew it would be, and now it’s come true,” said Benioff.

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1 COMMENT

  1. If you are determined to do this slavery thing, then I recommend you be historically correct;

    America’s first slave owner was a black man.

    According to colonial records, the first slave owner in the United States was a black man.
    Prior to 1655 there were no legal slaves in the colonies, only indentured servants. All masters were required to free their servants after their time was up. Seven years was the limit that an indentured servant could be held. Upon their release they were granted 50 acres of land. This included any Negro purchased from slave traders. Negros were also granted 50 acres upon their release.
    Anthony Johnson was a Negro from modern-day Angola. He was brought to the US to work on a tobacco farm in 1619. In 1622 he was almost killed when Powhatan Indians attacked the farm. 52 out of 57 people on the farm perished in the attack. He married a female black servant while working on the farm.
    When Anthony was released he was legally recognized as a “free Negro” and ran a successful farm. In 1651 he held 250 acres and five black indentured servants. In 1654, it was time for Anthony to release John Casor, a black indentured servant. Instead Anthony told Casor he was extending his time. Casor left and became employed by the free white man Robert Parker.
    Anthony Johnson sued Robert Parker in the Northampton Court in 1654. In 1655, the court ruled that Anthony Johnson could hold John Casor indefinitely. The court gave judicial sanction for blacks to own slave of their own race. Thus Casor became the first permanent slave and Johnson the first slave owner.
    Whites still could not legally hold a black servant as an indefinite slave until 1670. In that year, the colonial assembly passed legislation permitting free whites, blacks, and Indians the right to own blacks as slaves.
    By 1699, the number of free blacks prompted fears of a “Negro insurrection.” Virginia Colonial ordered the repatriation of freed blacks back to Africa. Many blacks sold themselves to white masters so they would not have to go to Africa. This was the first effort to gently repatriate free blacks back to Africa. The modern nations of Sierra Leone and Liberia both originated as colonies of repatriated former black slaves.
    However, black slave owners continued to thrive in the United States.
    By 1830 there were 3,775 black families living in the South who owned black slaves. By 1860 there were about 3,000 slaves owned by black households in the city of New Orleans alone.
    Sources:
    John Casor
    Anthony Johnson

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