It’s July 3rd and the big news is that Hamilton came out on Disney Plus this morning. It’s all over Twitter and social media so I’m not sure how you could have missed it.
Hamilton was one of the biggest cultural phenomenons in years. It seems everyone knew the words. We in the Kairoticast household included. But we need to acknowledge a few things – Hamilton, the musical and the man, is somewhat problematic.
Years ago, when I was in school and before anybody knew who Alexander Hamilton was, I remember commenting in class that Alexander Hamilton’s vision of America was really the one that won out of all of the founding fathers. He wanted an America ruled by business and banks – he had a kind of capitalist/corporate vision and he believed in big government and that’s what we got. At the time it seemed like Adams and Jefferson and some of that group would prevail with their ideas of democracy and republicanism, but ultimately it was Hamilton, with his monetized notions of America that won out in the long-run. And I really don’t know how heroic that truly is.
The musical is great. I mean it is an artistic and technical masterpiece. But it also is a celebration of neo-liberalism and boot-strap mentality and American exceptionalism that is ultimately just REALLY problematic. And usually I’d be hypercritical of that. But wow, the art is just so good; the music is so amazing and the narrative so compelling and the idea of putting People of Color in the place of many of these white slavers so wild that even I have found myself over-looking the issues that Hamilton presents.
Do I feel bad about that? Yeah. Am I going to eat fancy burgers and make an evening of watching it with my family? Oh yeah.
It is wild what I will do for art. I guess I am a hypocrite at heart. But this is what we’re doing for our July 4th weekend.
So I invite you to critique me in the comments. I deserve it. Or join me as I watch it this evening. Either way.
However you split it, I was right: Hamilton won.