Film Independent Project Involve Screening: 'Red Tails'

Source: Tibrina Hobson / Getty

If the content wars of cable and streaming giants were an episode of Game of Thrones, Amazon just pulled a Cersei Lannister-level move on its competitor, HBO.

What looks like a standard announcement of a new series called Black America is actually a beautifully-executed troll on the content giant, whose own alt-history series Confederate has been brutally scorched on social media ever since it was announced last week by folks claiming it to be exploitative. Unlike Confederate, which will be headed by (white, male) Thrones show runners D.B. Weiss and David Benioff, Black America is the brainchild of Boondocks and Black Jesus creator Aaron McGruder and super producer Will Packer (Girls TripStraight Outta Compton).

If comparing the titles of the two shows doesn’t tell you all you need to know, consider the way they’re described:

According to HBO, Confederate “takes place in an alternate timeline, where the southern states have successfully seceded from the Union, giving rise to a nation in which slavery remains legal and has evolved into a modern institution.”

In other words, life under the Trump Administration.

Meanwhile Black America, according to today’s announcement on Deadline, “envisions an alternate history where newly freed African Americans have secured the Southern states of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama post-Reconstruction as reparations for slavery, and with that land, the freedom to shape their own destiny.”
HBO admitted it fumbled the announcement of Confederate by burying the fact that Weiss and Benioff are working with writer/director team Nichelle Tramble Spellman and Malcolm Spellman (The Good Wife), who are Black, on the series. But it hardly matters. In an interview with Vulture, Weiss and Benioff basically admitted that they sought out the Spellmans essentially to be the Black face of their white fantasy.
Or, as journalist Pilot Viruet put it:
Despite the poor choices it made in announcing the show, and then again in trying to clean up after the backlash, HBO has been begging folks to give Confederate a chance. Now, thanks in part to Black America, we have absolutely no reason to.