Outrage hunting

July 26, 2017

I really hate to sound like one of those people who says “everybody is so easily offended now” because it sounds too much like “kids these days.” But sometimes the situation just makes it to where you can’t help it.

Apparently, there is an outrage, largely on Twitter and clickbait media calling out a proposed show by the creators of the hit series “Game of Thrones” called “Confederate.”

Much like “The Man at High Castle,” “Confederate” is set in an alternative timeline.

Here is HBO’s description:

“‘Confederate’ chronicles the events leading to the Third American Civil War. The series 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. The story follows a broad swath of characters on both sides of the Mason-Dixon Demilitarized Zone  —  freedom fighters, slave hunters, politicians, abolitionists, journalists, the executives of a slave-holding conglomerate and the families of people in their thrall.”

It sounds interesting, though I’m sure many people, including myself, have a different interpretation on how things would have proceeded. Though, admittedly, none would probably make as good TV.

But, as with most anything nowadays, there had to be some outrage online.

With “Confederate,” it started with an opinion column on the Daily Beast by Ira Madison III.

Apparently, Madison’s chief beef was that HBO chose to produce “Confederate” instead of picking up the canceled WGN show, “Underground.” Now, I can’t really say much about “Underground,” I’ve never seen the show, but I know it was a historical drama about the Underground Railroad and was the network’s highest rated show. The show was not canceled due to ratings, but because of new ownership in the Sinclair Broadcast Group.

Now, I can understand Madison being unhappy about that. After all, if rumors are correct, Sinclair wants to turn WGN into a conservative infotainment channel in the same vein as Fox News. It also meant that Underground, along with the rather unique “Outsiders” and “Salem,” were knocked off the air for no fault of their own despite being successful.

But, it’s not realistic to believe that HBO would pick up a show from a basic cable network. HBO is a premium channel that takes pride in producing its own shows. Picking up “Underground” was just not going to happen, no matter how successful it was. HBO hasn’t done that in the past, with the exception of “Sesame Street,” and probably won’t do that in the future.

Madison called the show “white nonsense” and of course, Twitter caught ablaze.

Twitter, as you know, is home to unoriginal self-righteous pontificating over things most people with things like jobs and/or lives don’t really care much about. Most people use it to get either a “like” or “retweet” from a celebrity or person of some degree of fame, which could be the fast-food worker who wears a nose ring at the drive-through.

Anyway, a lot of people no one ever heard of on Twitter started expressing their outrage and in turn, they got to see screenshots of their Tweets used by national media sites, getting 0.15 seconds of semi-fame. The thing about Twitter is that it’s often taken seriously and has led to the cancellation of projects and apologies in the past. It’s also made celebrities out of people who used to be rather anonymous fringe figures.

My fear is two-fold: The first is that I fear the hunt for outrage will ruin reputations over some “offended” (even though I don’t consider people seeking outrage to actually be offended) person’s complaint. Second, I fear that the outrage seekers will stifle creativity by their swarms seeking to do the first.

Meanwhile, upon hearing Sarah Huckabee-Sanders was now a solo show, Madison said on his own Twitter account: “Butch queen first time in drags at the ball”.

I’m not sure what exactly he means, but it’s something people would rightfully condemn a conservative for saying.

If the downside of Facebook is that it’s an outlet for conspiracy theories, then Twitter’s is that it’s an outlet for often incoherent nastiness in 140 characters or less.

So, I hope despite Twitter, that the creators can move forward with their vision. I also hope that Twitter stops being considered the go-to place for gauging public sentiment. If we let Twitter determine our national dialogue and what is acceptable, then we’re heading toward a very boring and very bland future in the arts.

Originally printed in the Batesville Daily Guard.
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