Sunday, November 20, 2016

Hamilton 2: Election Boogaloo

Following a production of the play “Hamilton,” star Brandon Dixon called out Vice-President elect Mike Pence, who was in attendance, with this statement:
“We, sir — we — are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents, or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights. We truly hope this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and work on behalf of all of us. All of us.”
I’m unclear as to who represents the alarmed and anxious “we” on behalf of whom he was ostensibly speaking. Perhaps the royal “we,” referring to the entire cast and crew, who are not amused? I hope they can find a nice safe space and afford the recently discounted Hillary coloring books. If I were a representative of a Broadway play that just came off the highest-grossing season in history, with $1.37 billion in ticket sales, and I wanted to raise awareness about my concerns for the potentially disenfranchised, I wouldn’t make a political statement about it on the dime of the production. Finance an ad campaign. Sell designer safety pins. Produce another play on the topic and charge just $10, so as to be more inclusive. Heck, just make it free admission, and call the play “Sanders.”

If, during his tenure, a president has a significant influence on the well-being of his constituents who are arguably underrepresented, then it would seem, according to at least one metric of tolerance of diversity, that many minorities agree that they have suffered under the watch of the outgoing administration. But I recall nothing but adulation for President Obama when he attended a matinee of Hamilton last year.

After President-elect Trump called for an apology for what he described as the cast’s harassment of Pence, Dixon replied in a tweet, “Conversation is not harassment, sir.”

Perhaps not, but as any actor would know, conversation, by definition, involves a dialogue between people — not a prepared statement read to someone as they leave the venue. In any case, at least one far from conservative entertainer agrees with my take, that any paying guest in an audience doesn’t merit being singled out. I mean, you know what kind of rhetoric to expect if you go to a Springsteen concert, but a play is not a town hall forum. Let the art speak for itself.

And if you were to address a President-elect Hillary Clinton in the audience, I would advise you to be even more discreet. Otherwise, you may end up as the guest of honor at a spirit cooking dinner.

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