• Talia Basma

Hamilton vs. History

So many people have been talking about the Hamilton Musical now available on Disney+. There are many people who disliked the show, some who love it, and people who are somewhere in the murky middle. I am the latter. After learning about Lin-Manuel's behavior with his own Puerto Rican community, I was less thrilled about watching the play. I had been only hearing good things about this play since 2015, but as more people watch, more and more critiques about  Miranda and his play appear. 

People like to separate art from the person, but that's almost impossible. Why did I have to learn about Vincent Van Gogh cutting off his ear in second grade if we are only learning about his art? Or that at 72 Claude Monet was diagnosed with nuclear cataracts in both his eyes? We may not think the person matters, but when we look back at their work, we see the art is simply pieces of a whole. If we track all this logic back to Hamilton, I can say that Lin-Manuel Miranda should be looked at alongside the play if not entirely, then partially. Though I cannot find the Twitter thread anymore, there have been many Perto Ricans who are unimpressed by Miranda's performative activism on Perto Rico's behalf. 

That is why, as a political piece, I loathed Hamilton. Can we agree unanimously that Alexander Hamilton (in the play and in reality) is a total turd face? I don't believe Miranda was really able to capture the nuances of America's beginning. The colored cast is super exciting but only superficially inclusive. In order to make a Broadway-worthy play, Miranda really tried to spin reality around and had it seem like Hamilton was this unsung hero. I get that Hamilton made changes, I get that he fought for America, and yay good on him. But that doesn't erase that in reality, he didn't really care about anyone but himself and definitely didn't care about slaves. The play version of him writing 51 essays defending the US Constitution (cue Non-Stop) doesn't erase the fact that in the same play he goads everyone and just doesn't ever shut up. I'm not 100% sure if the play was written with the intent of Hamilton being an anti-hero but that's kind of the vibe I got. 

Also, I just need a moment of silence for poor Eliza. I am referring solely to the play in this but it's historically accurate that SPOILER ALERT: he cheats on her. I really knew nothing about her and Hamilton before watching the play. Everyone talked about their endless love. There's even a YA trilogy by Melissa de la Cruz about the couple, so lil ol' me has been thinking they are the epitome of romance. I was wrong. So very wrong. This might be debatable to some people but cheating is just the antithesis of love to me. It's disrespectful and pathetic. Also, he just posts pamphlets about his affair without talking to Eliza? Like that is just some gross happenings.

With that said, I did enjoy listening to some songs and watching it with my family. I'm a sucker for theater, and I think I've enjoyed every single one I've ever watched, which might be luck on my part or me just being easy to please. (I've seen various plays from Wicked to War Horse for some perspective.) I wouldn't watch Hamilton ever again, and I'm so very thankful I didn't spend $900 to watch it live. I'm content listening to the 5 songs I enjoyed and then moving on from it entirely in a few weeks. (I know myself; the catchier the song, the faster I get over it, and these were almost calculatedly catchy, like Taylor Swift's Shake It Off...) 

Did you watch Hamilton? Did you enjoy it? Let me know your thoughts!

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