Hamilton

lin-manuel miranda is a white puerto rican who wrote a revisionist history of the USA's founding fathers, a group of racist, sexist, and classist slave-holding men whose "revolution" was hardly revolutionary.

"race-bending" this history -- making the entire cast Black, with some non-black POC here and there -- only serves as a rallying cry behind the deeply unsettling foundation of this nation: HAMILTON suggests to its audiences that it's "cool" to stan these new Founding Fathers of Color, who dance and rap and partake in the Black musical culture that contemporary america loves to consume. the recurring theme of the power of immigrants to "get the job done" and create this new nation ignores the fact that america was established by settler colonialists and boils down the nuances of modern-day immigration to a cutesy catch-all. as for women, the show is a bechdel fail: they're all in love with alexander hamilton and don't contribute much beyond that.

it's unsurpising that HAMILTON became the smash hit of 2016 that it did: it reinforces american exceptionalism and patriotism while giving "woke" audiences (who are largely rich and white, given the show's exorbitant ticket prices) the opportunity to pat themselves on the back for making headway in race relations in this country (these are the same people who, in 2020, are looking to robin diangelo's self-help book on anti-racism, "white fragility," to tell themselves they are committed to change). in reality, HAMILTON is a hugely performative oeuvre that does nothing to uplift marginalized communities and center their histories and culture. having non-white actors and hip-hop doesn't erase the fact that this is a show about white people -- property-owning, slave-holding, settler colonialists who displaced indigenous communities to build their nation on the backs of Black slaves.

(i wonder how much this release of HAMILTON -- amidst the unrest of a pandemic and the racial reckoning the BLM protests are forcing us to address -- is meant to be a salve, a way to calm the masses down, to tell them, look at how cool america's foundation is, look at how far we made it that an all-POC show is the darling of broadway, look at how immigrants created this nation and how they'll keep it together again.)

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