HBO’s ‘Con­fed­er­ate’: What if the South had won the Civil War?

The Washington Times Daily - - METRO - DEB­O­RAH SIM­MONS ● Deb­o­rah Sim­mons can be con­tacted at dsim­mons@wash­ing­ton­

The ca­dence of Hol­ly­wood con­tin­ues, as does Tin­sel­town’s rep­u­ta­tion as the great­est of Amer­ica’s im­i­ta­tion of life. What if Mary­land’s Larry Ho­gan, a Repub­li­can, had the sec­ond-high­est ap­proval rat­ing of any gov­er­nor — be­hind only fel­low Repub­li­can Char­lie Baker in Mas­sachusetts? (Mr. Ho­gan has a 73 percent ap­proval; Mr. Baker, 75 percent.) Both states are blue.

What if slav­ery were as alive and in­tact to­day as it was in 1861, when Abra­ham Lin­coln was as­sas­si­nated prior to the South win­ning the war?

What if the roots of the KKK were planted in the North — in, say, Mas­sachusetts, birth­place of the Amer­i­can Rev­o­lu­tion? Or Ver­mont, the first state to abol­ish slav­ery but dur­ing the heady days of the 1960s be­comes the first to re­in­state it? Ab­sur­di­ties?


Fic­tion of the un­be­liev­able kind?

Most of the above are all of the above, and could soon be­com­ing to a small screen via HBO.

That’s right, HBO will again jump into the race for top TV dra­mas with a se­ries cur­rently ti­tled “Con­fed­er­ate,” and it has some mon­ey­mak­ing, award-win­ning pow­er­houses be­hind the project.

The in­cred­i­ble imag­i­na­tions of

David Be­nioff and D.B. Weiss, cre­ators of fan­tas­ti­cal “Game of Thrones,” are on board as pro­duc­ers, and the two said a se­ries that posits post-Civil War Amer­ica has been in their dreams for quite some time.

To en­sure the black per­spec­tive isn’t to­tally white­washed, a black wife-hus­band team are up­front as well: writer­pro­duc­ers Nichelle Tram­ble Spell­man

(CBS’ “The Good Wife”) and Mal­colm Spell­man (Fox’s “Em­pire”).

HBO sketched its vi­sion for the show in a press re­lease, say­ing the events in “Con­fed­er­ate” will lead to a “Third Amer­i­can Civil War, and char­ac­ters will be “on both sides of the Ma­sonDixon De­mil­i­ta­rized Zone.”

Of course, the char­ac­ters in “Con­fed­er­ate” will be drawn along the lines of his­tory — slaves and slave hunters, politi­cians and abo­li­tion­ists, and free­dom fight­ers and jour­nal­ists.

Oh, and get this. “Con­fed­er­ate” also will have char­ac­ters rep­re­sent­ing “the ex­ec­u­tives of a slave-hold­ing con­glom­er­ate.”

Say what?

See, “Con­fed­er­ate” hopes to bring us right up to mod­ern-day, when some dozen states are slave states.

I wouldn’t be sur­prised if “Con­fed­er­ate” also looks through sev­eral other old-school lenses as it en­vi­sions to­day’s Amer­ica such as rape, broke­back Amer­ica and women be­ing bare­foot, preg­nant and in the kitchen 9-5. (Think the red-cloaked breed­ers in the in­creas­ingly pop­u­lar Hulu se­ries “The Hand­maid’s Tale,” the adap­ta­tion of a Mar­garet At­wood novel.)

Dystopia in the hands of Hol­ly­wood is tricky — es­pe­cially when it’s wrapped up with a bow that si­mul­ta­ne­ously de­picts his­tory and spec­u­la­tion — creative li­cense, if you will.

Amer­i­cans al­ready are try­ing to rip re­minders of the Civil War off Amer­i­can land­scapes — as if the Civil War never hap­pened and the North didn’t win.

While it’s easy to raise the ques­tion “why not?,” it’s also easy to say why not.

Folks are go­ing to com­plain how­ever they an­swer.

The most hon­est-an­swer po­si­tions to take is “what is the way for­ward?” and “how do we peace­fully get there?”

The Ital­ian-Amer­i­can com­mu­nity was up in arms prior to “The So­pra­nos” hit­ting HBO’s air­waves, but the show and its over-stereo­typed char­ac­ters won out.

On the other hand, Ken Burns isn’t lead­ing the way on “Con­fed­er­ate” to stick to the facts.

Be­sides, if the South had won the Civil War, who knows?

The KKK — whose orig­i­nals were mem­bers of the Demo­cratic Party — might never have donned white robes and hoods.

The ca­dence, you see, is bi­ased: “Left. Left. Left right left.”

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