Here are just a few reasons why HBO’s proposed Confederacy show certainly will not be on my to-watch list:

1) I will not watch any fantasy show about an alternative reality where the Confederacy won the war and slavery was never abolished. Period. It is a thinly veiled white supremacist fantasy cloaked in liberal whyte guilt. I’ll pass.

2) There is nothing bold about this premise. It has been done. And, after all, it’s not as though we live in a current reality where there are loads of monuments to the confederates and confederate flags on buildings. Oh wait…

3) No, this is not equivalent to Man in the High Castle because that shit didn’t happen in the U.S., and I doubt that show would even fly in Germany.

Why isn’t Hollywood interested in other alternative realities, like one where the Native Americans won, where there was a successful slave uprising in the American South, where Jim Crow never happened, where the Mexican-American war turned out differently, where Wounded Knee never happened, where Shirley Chisholm became president?

4) I will not watch a show that seeks to make racists even remotely sympathetic (and, yes, that’s exactly why I don’t like the Man in the High Castle show either) because that’s exactly what this show will do.

5) I might have been inclined to watch the show if it were created by black folks, but as usual it’s another instance of whyte men fantasizing (no matter how “critical” the show creators will try to claim they are) about our enslavement and pain.

6) I have zero interest in watching anything created by the creators of the Games of Thrones show, another show where all the brown folks are slaves who need to be saved by a whyte woman.

7) Why isn’t Hollywood interested in other alternative realities, like one where the Native Americans won, where there was a successful slave uprising in the American South, where Jim Crow never happened, where the Mexican-American war turned out differently, where Wounded Knee never happened, where Shirley Chisholm became president? Oh right. I know why.

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23 thoughts

  1. They should rename this show “The Confederacy of False Consolation.” Giving an alternative history of how much worse race politics would be if the Confederacy had won cannot be seen in any way other than an attempt to mitigate how bad 150 years of Jim Crow in reality has been. Gawddamn, I’m a white Georgian whose family fought for the Confederacy in that dumbass war-for-whites-making-blacks-property and I hate this idea with a fervor, y’all. Tell me the joke about how Liberal the entertainment industry is…

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    1. Um…you do realize that the /entire point/ of “The Handmaid’s Tale” is to point out just how fucked up and evil Christian fundamentalism is, right? It’s no more a glorification of an American theocracy than “Conspiracy” (a film about the Wansee conference, with Kenneth Branagh as Reinhard Heydrich–the dude who planned the Holocaust) or the Wolfenstein games (about shooting Nazis in the face) or “Anthropoid” (a film about the heroic termination of Reinhard Heydrich) are glorifications of the Third Reich.

      “The Handmaid’s Tale” is like “Fatherland”–a dystopian crapsack where evil has won that reminds us how lucky we are to have the freedoms we do have and how vigilant we must be to prevent the forces of counter-revolution, fascism, and bigotry from claiming the world.

      On the topic of the article itself, I think that the OP is wrong on a number of levels. Point by point:

      1) I will not watch any fantasy show about an alternative reality where the Confederacy won the war and slavery was never abolished. Period. It is a thinly veiled white supremacist fantasy cloaked in liberal whyte guilt. I’ll pass.

      You do realize that white supermacist/neo-Confederate fantasies generally portray a post-victory South that ended slavery (despite numerous political reasons why that would never fly for at least half a century in a hypothetical independent South) and is a happy funtime place where Those Wacky Blacks stay In Their Place ™, right? Portraying a successful Confederacy where slavery is still legal is (a) accurate to the Southron traitors’ leaders’ post-war plans and (b) important to accurately portraying just how fucking evil the CSA was.

      2) There is nothing bold about this premise. It has been done. And, after all, it’s not as though we live in a current reality where there are loads of monuments to the confederates and confederate flags on buildings. Oh wait…

      True. This premise is played-out, this particular VARIATION of the premise is tired and not very well thought-out, and the showrunners are morons who couldn’t find their asses with both hands and a map. I think the point is probably social commentary about how nasty it is to have Confederate emblems on state flags and such when the treasonous secessionists were so fucking evil, but in the hands of Benioff and Weiss? It’ll be a bad ripoff of MitHC.

      3) No, this is not equivalent to Man in the High Castle because that shit didn’t happen in the U.S., and I doubt that show would even fly in Germany.

      Why isn’t Hollywood interested in other alternative realities, like one where the Native Americans won, where there was a successful slave uprising in the American South, where Jim Crow never happened, where the Mexican-American war turned out differently, where Wounded Knee never happened, where Shirley Chisholm became president?

      I dunno, this looks a lot like MITHC, it’s a dystopian hellhole where freedom is on the ropes and tyranny and oppression run the roost because ‘Murica lost a major war under seriously ASB circumstances.

      Also, “the Native Americans won” is borderline racist as a concept (you do know there were something like 500 linguistically or culturally distinct Native American nations across the late 15th through early 19th centuries, right?
      Just as an example, the Abenaki and the Navajo are about as similar linguistically and culturally as the Finns and the Portuguese.), “Jim Crow never happened” requires American politicians to have spines (i.e. is as ASB as the Nazis conquering Earth by 1960), the Mexican-American war actually went pretty well for Mexico given how comprehensively fucked they were numerically and logistically (and if you want the Mexicans to win you basically need to remove Napoleon, completely reverse Bourbon colonial policies and find a reason for that, not to mention screwing the shit out of America in that same time period, resulting in a history so different from what we know before the war even starts that it’d really be more of a “no Napoleon” world); Wounded Knee never happening requires either a comprehensive extraction of racist attitudes and alteration of government policies in the 19th century, or the US army being polite when they tried to take the Lakotas’ guns; Shirley Chisholm as PotUS is basically impossible since she was running as a Democrat before the South really fully switched parties, so she’d be completely fucking destroyed if she made it out of the primaries, not to mention that she was a /horrible/ campaigner and had little political experience when she ran for President (back when political experience actually mattered).

      tl;dr it sounds like OP wants a cathartic fantasy rather than a serious alt-hist or a dystopian brick-to-the-face message show. That’s all well and good, but hardly a reason to decry a show as evil. It’s probably going to be a /shit/ show, but evil? Nah.

      4) I will not watch a show that seeks to make racists even remotely sympathetic (and, yes, that’s exactly why I don’t like the Man in the High Castle show either) because that’s exactly what this show will do.

      I’m of two minds over this. On the one hand, seeing Nazis and Confederates get killed in cartoonish fashion by square-jawed heroes and plucky heroines is a classic as old as bigotry itself, and is damned cathartic.

      On the other hand, bigotry has been present for so long and has been such an integral part of the human condition for so long that it’s frankly disingenuous to state that anyone who’s ever harbored any form of racist views is pure evil rather than ignorant, misguided, or just a drunk idiot in a bar. It’s important to emphasize the harm caused by racism, but at the same time simplifying matters into good vs. evil is kind of dangerous in its own right.

      5) I might have been inclined to watch the show if it were created by black folks, but as usual it’s another instance of whyte men fantasizing (no matter how “critical” the show creators will try to claim they are) about our enslavement and pain.

      1. No offense, but people who aren’t tedious edgelords spell it “white”. Or “cracker” if you want to insult someone.

      2. You do realize that hating racism and wanting to punch KKK goons and Confederates and slavers in the face is kind of independent of the artificial social-construct category you’ve been shoved into because of your skin color, right?

      6) I have zero interest in watching anything created by the creators of the Games of Thrones show, another show where all the brown folks are slaves who need to be saved by a whyte woman.

      TBF I agree that Benioff and Weiss suck, but Daenerys’s arc was basically the same in the book, which is basically a medieval pastiche; if you want to whine about the implied racism go talk to the medieval jackasses who wrote lurid “history” and “geography” books that George RR Martin was parodying with the outlandish Essos cultures.

      7) Why isn’t Hollywood interested in other alternative realities, like one where the Native Americans won, where there was a successful slave uprising in the American South, where Jim Crow never happened, where the Mexican-American war turned out differently, where Wounded Knee never happened, where Shirley Chisholm became president? Oh right. I know why.

      Because “The Native Americans won” is literally preschool-level BS (and kind of racist besides in how it characterizes people of over a dozen different ethnolinguistic superfamilies as all having the same political interests), a “successful” slave uprising would go to shit really fast and probably actually delay emancipation if it happened before 1850 or so because the more industrialized North would be forced to fight for the South to keep the USA intact (and they WOULD do that, they elected James Buchanan to keep the USA intact, plus secession was entirely the decision of a bunch of traitors in the South who were scared of their artificial legislative power going away), “Jim Crow never happened” frankly is hard to believe and doesn’t have very many storytelling options unless it’s part of another broader concept (i.e. the USA adopts early-20th-century Mexican-nationalist racist attitudes on “racial mixing” and “hybrid vigor” and becomes The Assimilator, or a longer Reconstruction period/US occupation of the South with the KKK as a terrorist faction that protagonists fight), the Mexican-American war isn’t a big part of the public consciousness (and so wouldn’t gain attention and critical viewership outside of niche markets) and changing the outcome would require basically completely turning the 18th and early 19th centuries on their ass to the point that the USA as we know it probably wouldn’t exist, and “Wounded Knee never happened” is either as simple as having one dude not be deaf and a few dozen soldiers be more polite, or as complex as having a bunch of major changes to the US government and people in the 19th century.

      Chisholm running for President–she’d never win. Most likely, even if you gave her EVERY advantage, made her the savviest campaigner ever and literally handed her all of her opponents’ dirt and gave her the best staff and buckets of money and had every opponent implode…she’d never win the Presidency. BUT it’d be a fantastic political tragedy; have Chisholm be a savvier campaigner and really go into it, push as hard as she can for the Presidency and campaign like a madwoman, and it just doesn’t gel. She goes to the big donors, they blow her off with “you’ve only been in congress 3 years, we need someone with more experience”, yadda yadda yadda. She goes to African-American groups, they blow her off since she’s a woman and most of the leaders of those groups were stuck-in-their-ways old men or were outright misogynists like Louis Farrakhan. She goes to the feminists, half of them don’t want anything to do with her and she gets only some support. She goes on the campaign trail, faces dismissiveness at best, abuse and death threats at worst.

      In the end, after a heroic effort and fanatical campaigning, she finishes second in the New York primary, 3rd in 5-6 others, and 4th or 5th overall in delegates. That’s about the best that could be expected in 1972 from an African-American woman candidate, a MASSIVE improvement over her OTL results, and the stuff of some pretty interesting political tragedy. But a female Obama 36 years early? Not happening, the demographics and the overall political drift just aren’t there.

      tl;dr you’re basically asking for variously implausible, ridiculous, and dramatically sterile stuff and saying that the existence of a bland dystopian TV show is a racist insult to your person. Frankly that’s kind of unreasonable, /and
      I say that as an unapologetic Marxist who’s written multiple happy noblebright communism wanks/. Also, using Y instead of I randomly ys realli stupyd, makes iou look lyke an edgelord, and frankli Y and mani other people fynd yt veri hard to read.

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      1. Lovely essay you posted there. I would’ve responded to your main arguments, if you hadn’t decided to lapse into policing my language (e.g. my use of “whyte”). But, suffice it to say, you do realize that a show has never been proven to change the minds of a culture for the better, right? So, yes, carry on trying to explain why these shows like The Handmaid’s Tale are so “important,” which is basically what you’re saying.

        (I mean, let me know when The Handmaid’s Tale show sparks a new feminist revolution in the United States. Don’t worry. I’ll wait. A book has that power, sure. But a television show? There’s no evidence of it.)

        P.S. Regarding your attempt to police my language: Yes, I will use any spelling of white I want to use, and you can feel free to skip my website and go police the language of another page if this one bothers you. Additionally, this website is not a place for yt tears of any sort. It is a place for learning about writers, books, stories, and the perspectives of people of color. If you don’t like it, you can find another page to haunt with your preposterous essay-length comments.

        P.P.S. Regarding your statement that Chisholm would never win: well, that’s why it’s called “alternative reality” and “speculative fiction.” Funny how whyte folks can imagine orcs and elves and all kinds of things but can’t imagine a black woman becoming U.S. president in the 70s. Interesting. Good day.

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      2. ftfy: “Frankly it’s kind of unreasonable for anyone to read my little meltdown, and
        I say that as an apologetic Marxist who lacks the capacity to persuade anyone to my cause, and, worse still, alienates the very People-with-a-capital-P whom I’m morally obligated to join in class struggle against the Liberalism which oppresses us all.” Brother, if you can’t see it, then you need to see it. I’m in the Atlanta chapter of the DSA if you want to meet.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Man, the confederacy would never win. _Never._ The world at large _hated them_. The only way they could win is if they managed to blitz Washington, and this then disheartened the north. Much more likely, it would galvanize the North to see the South occupy the capital. At the end of the day, _nearly all industrial capacity_ was in the North. Their long list of international allies was British Textile Owners (Who’s workers _went on repeated strikes over their support of the South_) and many Native American Nations (Who were forced into an alliance when the Union creatively misinterpreted their NAP as an Alliance, and at any rate could not make up for the South’s many and glaring strategic weaknesses). And the South had revolts like you would not believe against their treason (There’s a reason West Virginia exists).

        And yet, you accept the notion that the Confederacy would win, and not Chisolm. Really. I wonder why.

        (Also, ‘native americans winning’ is startlingly easy. Had they not been wiped out by plague, in all probability the best that Europe could do would be to treat North America like they had India – very slowly carving out chunks by taking sides in existing conflicts. Heck, they _still_ had to do that in spite of plagues in Central and South America)

        Liked by 1 person

  2. The other thing about Confederacy is I think it’s not even good speculative fiction. Slavery was failing as an economic model in the time of the Civil War. Had the south WON, they would still be reeling economically from the war, with much of their forces depleted. The economy would have collapsed in the CSA, which would have been perfect conditions for an uprising and revolution, and is the more likely result of the south winning the war. Why didn’t they go THAT route? Why didn’t they have those who were slaves become the ones in power? THAT would have been a story I would have watched.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ooh, now THAT is a cool idea. Black communist South? Would be neat. But then, since the Confederate traitors winning basically requires foreign intervention, the US would definitely be strongly anti-CSA and would probably take the first chance possible to invade and “restore order” to the CSA once they rebuilt their forces a bit.

      …hmmm, maybe the CSA “wins” in 1870, collapses in 1880, the US reintegrates the southern territories under military-backed African-American governors? Would make for a very different 20th century.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. That would have made for an EXCELLENT plot! It’s too bad the folks in the industry aren’t creative enough to think outside the box like this. Heck, some of us should start writing these scripts now! 🙂

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  3. I find your argument about Man In The High Castle to be borderline bigotry. Essentially you say, “It didn’t happen to me so I don’t care about all of Nazi Germany’s victims.” Yeah, pretty offensive. I also wonder if you’ve ever read Huck Finn, a book about slavery that’s one of the most anti old South books ever written, cleverly disguised as a children’s tale. Shouting down art is not always a great idea.

    Lastly, and most importantly, to a great extent, the Confederacy DID WIN. At least they didn’t go away. They have been running the federal government off and on since the 1960s. They have appointed most of our federal judges and that’s a large reason why institutionalized racism continues to exist in this nation. Or maybe you’ve never heard of Mitch McConnell, Strom Thurmond, George Bush and Richard Nixon. Maybe you missed the assault on voter rights by the GOP and their SCOTUS puppets. The old Confederacy never went away, though we all wish they did.

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    1. Reading is fundamental.

      1) Regarding your first point: I explicitly noted that I don’t like Man in the High Castle BECAUSE it lets Nazis off the hook and makes them sympathetic. They did sick things to human beings and deserve no sympathy. Ditto for confederates.

      2) Regarding your second point: I explicitly indicated in #2 that the confederacy basically won the war.

      Again, reading is fundamental if you plan to try to tear down a person’s argument. Nice try, though.

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  4. I might just be because of who I interact with, but I haven’t seen anyone responding positively to the show. Hopefully this will motivate HBO to back off from the idea.

    What is the significance of “whyte” rather than “white,” I haven’t seen that spelling before?

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