Five years ago, “Hamilton” was the musical of the decade, praised by virtually all with little descent. It swept the 2016 Tony Awards and probably made an appearance on your social media accounts from friends who bragged about seeing it live.
But five years is a long time, and even though the founding fathers were already pariahs on college campuses at the time “Hamilton” was released, they were still revered in the culture at large. That is no longer the case.
It is now 2020 and the media has taken cues from violent rioters and protesters that the founding fathers are no longer welcome in the history books. Some conservatives pointed out that means that the beloved Hamilton would have to be canceled – and many activists agreed.
On Twitter, users voiced their concerns over Hamilton’s “problematic” narrative, which critics claim lionized slave-owning founding fathers and played with the truth of history – in a musical where people portraying the founding fathers danced and rapped.
Lin-Manuel Miranda, the writer and star of Hamilton, participated in a July 3 viewing of the movie version of the play, responding and reacting along with others on Twitter. Miranda, however, received enough criticism of the show to set his Twitter account to private. On July 6, Miranda finally addressed the controversy surrounding Hamilton, saying, “All the criticisms are valid.”
Miranda made the comments while responding to Buzzfeed and Netflix host Tracy Clayton’s criticism of Hamilton in which she said: “im late w the hamilton criticism stuff & im 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.”
“Appreciate you so much, @brokeymcpoverty. 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,” Miranda responded.
Appreciate you so much, @brokeymcpoverty. 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. https://t.co/mjhU8sXS1U
— Lin-Manuel Miranda (@Lin_Manuel) July 6, 2020
Alexander Hamilton was an abolitionist, but he, too, apparently must be canceled because he had a relationship with other founding fathers who did own slaves. Further problematic for Miranda’s musical is that while slavery is a recurring theme in the performance, there is no slave character.
The Washington Post – named for founding father George Washington – published an article critical of Hamilton on July 3 titled, “Hamilton despised slavery but didn’t confront George Washington or other slaveholders.”
The article mentions the racial protests taking place across the country and the destruction of statues dedicated to historical figures who also owned slaves as a backdrop to criticize the musical. “[I]t might feel good to watch “Hamilton” and think of an ethnically diverse, hip-hop past. The reality, of course, was way more complicated,” the outlet reported. Hamilton wasn’t forceful enough in his beliefs against slavery, critics allege, so he is just as ripe for canceling as the men who actually owned slaves and who are being erased despite their other accomplishments.