Walk It Off: On The So-Called “Black Pain” Profited Off Of HBO’s “Confederate”

By:  H.T.

In light of the recent outrage about HBOs’ Confederate I have one thing to say:  let it go.  You will not win this.  Most of you will say “Well, we got all these random problematic shows canceled, so that’s something!”  No, you got shows they could AFFORD to lose canceled.  Frankly, if you take into account the kinds of shows that got canceled off social media outrage, what were they beyond just time fillers?  Were any of them even remotely close to getting an Emmy?

In fact, I can break down why the outrage over this is pointless pretty easily.  See, TV shows are built around demographics, or demos.  Demos are broken down by age, race, politics, religion, etc.  Everything in a show, right down to how it’s casted, breaks down to the simple question of “Will enough people watch it?”

Enter the issue with the outrage crowd.  While the outrage crowd is diverse, there are a few issues.  For one, any and all shows must speak to every marginalized group.  Now you’re saying, well that can’t be to hard…until you realize that means EVERYBODY they consider marginalized.  Don’t get me wrong, we’ve gotten to where even CBS has a show where one of the key characters is a black trans woman, so there’s a step in the right direction.  The problem is that this crowd isn’t happy with just one form of representation, enter intersectionality.  The problem with that is that for writers, eventually intersecting the identities of characters while interacting them with other characters that intersect can, potentially, result in a cluster fuck of issues that centers the show away from its point and onto certain or a singular character.

This is not to say intersectional characters are bad, but it is to say that if that’s the point of your show, fine.  But either A) expect to have a very niche audience and B) expect white people to come in and in some way make it about them as this is just the nature of things.

When it comes to shows like Confederate the problem is that a popular theme in entertainment which is the frontier to Old West America, and it’s made a pariah because of modern sensibilities.  This is a problem because ultimately, to adhere to these politics means that one must place themselves in a box in order to comply.  Eventually, any show dealing with the past must narrow it down to what won’t offend rather than what will entertain.  And this is a problem.

A problem because in order to accomplish this one must be prepared to choose between a vocal majority or a silent majority.  But in the end, the vocal majority doesn’t realize why they aren’t being heard.  It’s not that people don’t care, it’s that the number of potential losses from offending people with a certain set of politics isn’t high enough.  When your options are between changing a show because a few hundred thousand people were offended or keeping the show as it is and maintaining the millions of viewers you have, what would a wise man choose?

The simple fact of it all is that shows like Game of Thrones and ultimately Confederate get viewers and hype BECAUSE people wish to see salacious entertainment that make us feel a diaspora of emotions.  Sure, Insecure is great and all, but you can’t build a channel just off one type of show and stay afloat.  These are the cold hard facts.

The hard truth is this:  you cannot intellectualize your grievances against something and believe that’s enough to get what you want.  And sometimes there’s nothing you can do.  Period.  Shows like this still get made because there is a demand.  Yell all you want, blog all you want, call me a coon all you want.  Shit’s still coming on.  Either watch it or don’t watch it.

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