Hashtag campaign launched against HBO's modern-day slavery show

Hashtag campaign launched against HBO's modern-day slavery show

A show about the Civil War is creating a left-wing culture war pitting hashtag campaigners against the well-heeled progressives at HBO. HBO’s modern-day slavery show, Confederate, got off to a bad start last week. The situation continued to deteriorate even after the president of programming apologized for how it was announced. The campaign to block the show intensified over the weekend when the hashtag, #NoConfederate, became a #1 trending topic Sunday night. From the Associated Press:

A social media campaign to derail HBO’s planned modern-day Southern slavery drama quickly caught fire, prompting the cable channel to ask detractors to withhold judgment until they see “Confederate.”

The campaign, with “OscarsSoWhite” activist April Reign among its organizers, asked people to tweet to HBO with the hashtag “NoConfederate” during Sunday’s broadcast of the channel’s “Game of Thrones.”

April Reign tweeted the campaign was a success Sunday:

HBO still isn’t backing away from the show. The network released a statement asking people to wait and see. From the Hollywood Reporter:

“We have great respect for the dialogue and concern being expressed around Confederate. We have faith that [writers] Nichelle, Dan, David and Malcolm will approach the subject with care and sensitivity. The project is currently in its infancy so we hope that people will reserve judgment until there is something to see,” the premium cable network said in a statement Sunday.

This hashtag campaign is just like the attempts to shut down campus speakers on the grounds that their message will be hurtful. No one involved in this wants to wait and see what HBO comes up with, they want to shut it down now. The only difference here is that the target of the campaign isn’t a conservative speaker but a group of liberal TV producers.

As I mentioned last week, I’m quite certain the goal of this show was to send a supportive message about racism and intersectionality, a message many of the hashtag campaigners would agree with. But because HBO can’t reveal the message in advance, it can’t dig its way out of this.

Ultimately I think the hashtag campaign will be effective and here’s why: This show hasn’t hired anyone yet. What happens when word leaks that this or that actor or actress is considering taking a role in this project? If you guessed the Justine Sacco treatment, you are correct. Black actors, in particular, are going to face immense pressure not to be part of this. It’s going to be a battle every step of the way to get this produced. At some point, HBO will decide it’s not worth battling the very audience they hoped would champion the show.

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