Hamilton was unleashed into the world five years ago. There’s no denying the musical has been a force.
It became a major fixture in pop culture. The soundtrack captivated those who had even the most fleeting relationships with theater. The inclusive, diverse cast and unique perspective made history feel accessible and inclusive to many who had never felt that way before.
Over the weekend, Disney+ brought Hamilton into the homes of many Americans. Watching the musical at a different time in our nation’s history raised some new issues for viewers. Many noted that while the play prominently features a man who owned enslaved people, that part of the history isn’t touched upon.
Criticism of how Hamilton is interpreted through 2020 eyes circulated the internet following the release. Writer and podcaster Tracy Clayton touched on it in a tweet that reads, “I’m late w the hamilton criticism stuff & I’m clearly biased but … I really like that this conversation is happening. hamilton the play and the movie were given to us in two different worlds & our willingness to interrogate things in this way feels like a clear sign of change.”
“I totally get the frustration about it being a play about slaveholders that is not about slavery. I’ve felt that in lots of things I watch, but I flex the same muscle I use when I listen to hip hop as a black woman,” she continued.
“We enjoy problematic things all the time. after reading the critiques I would have appreciated more context about hamilton & slavery. but to lump it in with statues of Columbus and Robert E Lee denies the conversation the nuance it deserves & we’re capable of giving it that.”
Lin-Manuel Miranda, who wrote the show and plays Alexander Hamilton in the filmed version, replied to her thoughtful statement. “Appreciate you so much. All the criticisms are valid. The sheer tonnage of complexities & failings of these people I couldn’t get. Or wrestled with but cut. I took 6 years and fit as much as I could in a 2.5-hour musical. Did my best. It’s all fair game.”
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