Share good ideas and conversation.   Login, Join Us, or Take a Tour!
comment by Reef3
Reef3  ·  814 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: You Should Be Terrified That People Who Like “Hamilton” Run Our Country

I posted this article more for the discussion it might start than the actual quality of the article itself, but I think the thesis is slightly different than that. The author approaches it a bit differently than you suggest, arguing that only those with "elite status" have actually even seen it. I don't know, it does seem like the author is saying that the musical is bad, so people who like it are bad while also trying to use that as representation of a more specific idea:

    The conservative-liberal D.C. consensus on Hamilton makes perfect sense. The musical flatters both right and left sensibilities. Conservatives get to see their beloved Founding Fathers exonerated for their horrendous crimes, and liberals get to have nationalism packaged in a feel-good multicultural form. The more troubling questions about the country’s origins are instantly vanished, as an era built on racist forced labor is transformed into a colorful, culturally progressive, and politically unobjectionable extravaganza.

What I guess is surprising is that there is near universal praise for it when there seems to be much to critique. It's not challenging or truthful and seems like it has the complexity and depth of an after-school program special. The title of the article is stupid and hyperbolic though.




Odder  ·  813 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Do we expect musicals do be challenging or truthful, though? Do they need to confront hard facts about our past? Hamilton probably does cater to its audience's preconceived political notions, but I don't see that as necessarily bad. The only way I could see that being bad is if, like the the author, we demand that all art must represent the struggle of the proletariat to be good.

I don't think I've heard much other than universal praise for Phantom of the Opera or Les Miserables either, because the people who don't care for them don't bother to talk about them. It isn't that they are secretly terrible, it's that most people can't be bothered to hate, or even have much of an opinion, on art that they don't love.

kleinbl00  ·  812 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    Do we expect musicals do be challenging or truthful, though?

If we don't, we aren't paying attention. I often say that I hate musicals but really, Les Miserables is all about the proletariat rising up against the ruling class. Most musicals are, back to Gilbert & Sullivan at least. I mean...

- West Side Story

- King and I

- Fiddler on the Roof

- Rent

- A Chorus Line

Heavy themes in those. Mikado? Even Pirates of Penzance isn't without its social commentary. A Chorus Line, which held the record for longest-running musical for a decade or more, legit has a song about gonorrhea.

I think it's fair to say that the musical audience expects challenges and commentary. The argument put forth in the article is that the challenges and commentary presented are those that enforce the white eliteness of the audience, rather than presenting the audience with new perspectives. That said, Les Miserables is all about how the royals suck, so...

bfv  ·  812 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Looking at art from a Gramscian perspective isn't interesting because of what it tells you about the art, it's interesting because of what looking at the art tells you about the ideology that produced it. Hamilton is the lens to look through, not the thing you're looking at. It's a fault of the essay that that wasn't clear, but the passage kleinbl00 quoted is the meat

    In that respect, Hamilton probably is the “musical of the Obama era,” as The New Yorker called it. Contemporary progressivism has come to mean papering over material inequality with representational diversity. The president will continue to expand the national security state at the same rate as his predecessor, but at least he will be black. Predatory lending will drain the wealth from African American communities, but the board of Goldman Sachs will have several black members. Inequality will be rampant and worsening, but the 1% will at least “look like America.” The actual racial injustices of our time will continue unabated, but the power structure will be diversified so that nobody feels quite so bad about it. Hamilton is simply this tendency’s cultural-historical equivalent; instead of worrying ourselves about the brutal origins of the American state, and the lasting economic effects of those early inequities, we can simply turn the Founding Fathers black and enjoy the show.