The woman behind the #OscarsSoWhite movement has set her sights on a new quest: to get HBO to say #No to “Confederate,” a recently announced series from the creators of “Game of Thrones.”
April Reign, whose award show hashtag started a rallying cry for more opportunities and acknowledgment for people of color in Hollywood, is attempting again to unite social media voices in hopes of stopping HBO from not moving forward with alternate history drama “Confederate.”
“Confederate” imagines what would have happened if Southern states successfully seceded from the Union during the Civil War and slavery continued to be practiced. The series is set in the present day.
The show comes from “Game of Thrones” showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, as well as fellow executive producers Nichelle Tramble Spellman and Malcolm Spellman.
Reign is asking for people who wish to participate to tweet using the hashtag #NoConfederate during the airing of Sunday’s new episode of “Game of Thrones.”
“We would like HBO to cancel #Confederate and instead uplift more marginalized voices with a different series,” Reign told CNN in an email.
HBO has been on the defensive about the project since announcing it almost ten days ago.
Critics called the premise harmful and questioned whether such a show was appropriate considering America’s ongoing racial and political tensions.
Reign added, “the premise of the show itself is without merit.”
“The commodification of Black pain for the enjoyment of others must stop,” she said. “Earlier this month, there were protests about taking down Confederate monuments. The prison industrial complex is bursting with Black and brown people, disproportionate to the crimes committed. So, for some, Confederate is not ‘alternate history,’ but a painful and recent reminder of how much further we still need to go for true equality in this country.”
Following the initial wave of ire, the four producers granted a joint interview to Vulture, where they attempted to assuage concerns. They defended the show, saying it would not present typical imagery associated with slavery in works of fiction and said they intend to use the series to illuminate current racial issues facing the country.
HBO programming president Casey Bloys was also confronted with questions about the backlash this week when appearing at the Television Critics Association press tour.
He called HBO’s initial announcement “misguided,” as it did not address the controversial premise with the appropriate care, but he stood behind the idea.
“We’re going to stand behind [the producers],” he said. “And my hope is that people will judge the actual material as opposed to what it could be or should be or might be.”
For Reign, who is leading the campaign in collaboration with fellow activists Rebecca Theodore, Lauren Warren, Shanelle Little and Jamie Broadnax, that’s not quite enough.
“Nothing that I have seen from Mr. Bloys or ‘Confederate’s’ producers has changed our focus,” she said.
Reign added: “While we are not currently calling for a boycott of ‘Game of Thrones’ or the cancellation of HBO subscriptions, we will not rest until ‘Confederate’ is scrapped.”
“Confederate” is currently in development at HBO. No scripts or outlines have been written, according to producers.
(HBO is a unit of Time Warner, the parent company of CNN.)