The 2002 film “Minority Report” showcased a future where police bust “criminals” before they actually commit the crime.
We’re seeing something similar within the world of pop culture now. And few, if any, voices are rising up in protest.
Progressives fear certain projects based solely on their descriptions. And they’re using all their clout to snuff them out before we see the finished product.
Sometimes their efforts pay off.
“Confederate,” an upcoming HBO series that won’t reach TV screens until 2018 … at the earliest, is one such project. The show’s theme is certainly provocative. It’s an alternate reality where the South never gave up slavery following the American Civil War.
Set in modern times, “Confederate” reveals what America would look like if the South seceded following the war and retained the “peculiar institution.”
The show’s creative team immediately took fire for both the premise and their skin color. The main producers (“Game of Thrones” show runners D.B. Weiss and David Benioff) are white, so they were accused of being incapable of telling the story in a respectful fashion.
Vicious op-eds followed, condemning the project before a single line of script was written. The inevitable hashtag campaign followed.
Will “Confederate” actually happen? We’ll see. We do know the fate of another HBO project, though.
The pay channel pulled the plug on “Mogadishu, Minnesota,” a docu-series looking at the Muslim population in the state. Some worried the HBO series might fall back on Muslim stereotypes regarding terrorism. Somali-Canadian rapper K’naan Warsame directed the show’s pilot. Oscar winner Kathryn Bigelow also threw her creative weight behind the series.
The latter enraged some, since Bigelow also directed “Zero Dark Thirty,” the film about the hunt for Osama bin Laden.
Last September, protesters shut down K’naan’s neighborhood block party in the Cedar-Riverside area, marching, chanting and carrying signs that read “K’naan and Bigelow — Stop exploiting the Somali community.”
Was that the show’s goal? Not according to its creator.
K’naan had previously described the show as a family drama set within a Somali-American family and following a second-generation American named Sameer.
The project suggested an apolitical, positive portrayal of a community which rarely gets a closeup. It got canceled all the same.
The latest pre-outrage? An all-female adaptation of “Lord of the Flies.” The classic yarn tells what happens when a group of British school children are stranded on a remote island.
It isn’t pretty.
Will the all-female version be just as ugly, or even uglier? The cyber pitch forks are already out, targeting the project as problematic. One reason for the alarm? The film’s two screenwriters are both male. And, to some, men aren’t fully capable of capturing the female experience.
Can the remake survive the cultural pressure? Stay tuned.
Media outlets reported on all of the above with little or no outrage. What’s worse? The virtual silence from the artistic community.
Celebrities have never been so vocal, so political. They use social media, press interviews and their entertainment platforms to speak out. Immigration enforcement. DACA. The wall. North Korea. Unisex bathrooms. Name a politically-charged headline and chances are dozens of stars have shared their opinion on it.
The average citizen can tell you as much about George Clooney’s politics as his publicist.
So what about “Confederate?” “Mogadishu, Minnesota?” “Lord of the Flies?”
Comedy mega-producer Judd Apatow tweeted his support for “Confederate,” arguing we should see art before we condemn it. He’s virtually alone in his defense, though.
One irony here is that some of these projects appear to support what progressives care about most. The minds behind “Confederate,” which include two prominent black producers, vow to illuminate how 21st century racism is a direct reflection on slavery’s bitter fallout.
Here’s co-producer Malcolm Spellman on the show’s goals.
I think people have got to stop pretending that slavery was something that happened and went away. The s*** is affecting people in the present day. And it’s easy for folks to hide from it, because sometimes you’re not able to map it out, especially with how insidious racism has become. But everyone knows that with Trump coming into power, a bunch of s*** that had always been there got resurfaced.
The “Mogadishu” series also seemed intent on upending stereotypes, not enforcing them.
That didn’t matter. Progressives demanded these projects die before we could judge for themselves. It’s the stuff of creepy science fiction, sprung from the mind of a Philip K. Dick or other genre guru.
So why won’t artists rise up to complain? Their silence isn’t just deafening. It makes their other political pronouncements seem less credible if they can’t speak up on the one matter that should matter most to them – creative freedom.