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All Revved Up: HBO Takes On The Confederacy

Casey Bloys, president of HBO programming, participates in a panel discussion on July 26.
Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP

HBO faired through a wave of controversy last week after they announced that Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss would be creating a new show for the network called, Confederate. The show would be an alternate history story that takes place in a world where the South successfully seceded from the North, and where slavery is not only still legal, but a thriving industry. HBO and Benioff and Weiss immediately received backlash for Confederate, with many calling the show being culturally insensitive, tone deaf and potentially racist.

Reverends Irene Monroe and Emmett Price joined Boston Public Radio Monday to discuss their thoughts on the new show and the past depictions of slavery in media.

Monroe was bothered by the description of Confederate and saw the existence of the show as problematic. “I think it plays a rather concrete American fantasy,” she said. “American slavery continues to be a sort of difficult topic to talk about, and we avoid it at any cost, particularly if it is not spun to white appeal.”

In response to the show's backlash, co-creator Weiss told Vulture, “It goes without saying slavery is the worst thing that ever happened in American history. It’s our original sin as a nation. And history doesn’t disappear. That sin is still with us in many ways. Confederate, in all of our minds, will be an alternative-history show. It’s a science-fiction show. One of the strengths of science fiction is that it can show us how this history is still with us in a way no strictly realistic drama ever could, whether it were a historical drama or a contemporary drama. It’s an ugly and a painful history, but we all think this is a reason to talk about it, not a reason to run from it. And this feels like a potentially valuable way to talk about it.”

Monroe does not believe that the show will become a spark for conversations about the lasting impacts of slavery. Instead, she says the show will only perpetuate American’s desire to watch an entertaining distraction about slavery rather than voluntarily sit face to face and have a conversation about race.  

Price, on the other hand, reserved his judgments. “I think people who like to complain will find anything to complain about," he said. "I want to see the show, and then I’ll tell you what I think about it.”

Reverends Irene Monroe and Emmett Price join Boston Public Radio every week for All Revved Up. To hear their interview in its entirety, click on the audio player above.

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