Saturday, August 5, 2017

Hey, HBO!

So, it was recently announced that HBO, and Game of Thrones show-runners David Benioff and Dan Weiss, would follow-up their spectacular run of medieval fantasy with an alternate history/reality series titled Confederate. No doubt inspired by Amazon’s successful The Man in the High Castle, based on Philip K. Dick’s novel about an Axis victory in World War II, Confederate will take place in a reality where the Confederate States of America won the Civil War. And, oh yeah, institutionalized slavery still exists. Of course, depending on how it is executed such a series could be a nuanced and insightful exploration of race relations in America. But many have wondered whether or not it will just be an exercise in white supremacists wish fulfillment. The fact that two of the project’s producers are African American (Nichelle Tramble Spellman, Malcolm Spellman) has not convinced detractors that the show is a good idea, and the hashtag #NoConfederate recently trended on Twitter during an airing of Game of Thrones.

But maybe HBO should just drop the whole Confederate idea (the South wins the Civil War has been done before) for something more original and interesting, an adaptation of Kim Stanley Robinson’s 2002 novel The Years of Rice and Salt. Robinson’s novel is also an alternate history, taking place in a world where the Black Death in 14th century Europe didn’t kill a mere third of the population but 99 percent, effectively removing European influence from history. The empires that rise and fall in Robinson’s world are Muslim and Chinese. Asians, Africans and the aboriginal peoples of the Americas and Australia still face colonialism, imperialism and war as they navigate a history that is different only in the details. There is even a 67-year World War, which alone would make for an interesting series. A much more interesting series than yet another rehash of the Civil War, and one that would avoid TV’s tendencies toward Eurocentrism.

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