HBO responds to viral #NoConfederate campaign

The controversy over Confederate, the upcoming HBO series from Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, is showing no signs of dying down anytime soon. Fans started a #NoConfederate campaign on Twitter during Game of Thrones' latest episode, with the hashtag trending worldwide– and prompting a new response from HBO.

Confederate takes place in an alternate timeline in which the south successfully seceded from the Union, leading to a modern nation in which slavery is still legal. The story, which also comes from husband-and-wife team Nichelle Tramble Spellman (The Good Wife) and Malcolm Spellman (Empire), follows a number of different characters on both sides of the Mason-Dixon Demilitarized Zone, including freedom fighters, slave hunters, politicians, abolitionists, journalists, the executives of a slave-holding conglomerate, and slaves and their families.

The drama immediately brought controversy when it was announced, with many criticizing the two white showrunners for taking on what they call a fetishized take on slavery. Benioff and Weiss responded to the accusations by calling for people to wait until the show premiered to form their opinions on it, with Tramble Spellman adding that the show won't use "typical antebellum imagery" in bringing slavery to the present day.

Still, though, fans ended up rallying behind the #NoConfederate campaign, which was organized by April Reign, the activist behind #OscarsSoWhite. #NoConfederate trended at number two worldwide and number one in the U.S., with Reign writing that she wanted the campaign to stop the show before it was written or cast. HBO, however, released a statement saying that, despite the campaign, they still plan on moving forward with the series.

"We have great respect for the dialogue and concern being expressed around Confederate," the network said in a statement. (via Variety) "We have faith that Nichelle, Dan, David, and Malcolm will approach the subject with care and sensitivity. The project is currently in its infancy so we hope that people will reserve judgment until there is something to see."

The statement mirrors the comments given by Benioff, Weiss, and the Spellmans, as well as the statement HBO programming president Casey Bloys gave at the Television Critics Association press tour last week. "If I could do it over again, HBO's mistake—not the producers'—was the idea that we would be able to announce an idea that is so sensitive that requires such care and thought on the part of the producers in a press release was misguided on our part," he said.

Confederate isn't expected to begin production until after the final season of Game of Thrones airs in 2018 or 2019, so it could be a while before we see how the network will navigate the difficult series. In the meantime, read up on the untold truth of Game of Thrones.