Sunday Summary #25: What’s on the Internet

Articles

Videos

1|  Jonathan Groff is no longer King George in Hamilton (NATIONAL TRAGEDY), but he makes up for the sadness by hilariously inducted Jimmy Fallon into the Order of the Garter.

 

No Slut Shaming in Hamilton

I was listening to Hamilton for the 500th time, and I noticed something strange when I got to “Say No to This,” the song during which Hamilton has an affair with Maria Reynolds.  I thought, ugh, she ruined his life.  When the affair goes public, his political career crashes and burns and his wife understandably distances herself from him.  All because of Maria.

Then I realized….the song was decidedly not placing the blame on her.  So why was I?  My “internalized misogyny” bell started ringing in my brain, and I was horrified to realize I was doing what culture does best:  blame the woman.  After all, Alexander Hamilton is the hero of the musical.  We’ve seen him through years of his life, we’re rooting for him, and we want the best for him.  When something goes wrong, surely it’s someone else’s fault.  Surely it’s hers (because she seduced him, she corrupted him, she tempted him).  Surely she’s the slut, and Eliza is the saint.  Surely women exist as a dichotomy, served to bolster or destroy the male hero.

A lesser musical would have followed these old familiar tropes, but Hamilton is not a lesser musical!  Throughout the song, Maria is portrayed as a fully developed person and the onus of decision is placed firmly, and repeatedly, on Hamilton’s shoulders.

Maria:
My husband’s doin’ me wrong
Beatin’ me, cheatin’ me, mistreatin’ me…
Suddenly he’s up and gone
I don’t have the means to go on

Maria must bear the fault of intentionally seducing a married man, that’s true.  But she isn’t only a seductress.  She’s the wife of an abusive, horrible man.  (Tellingly, the only time slut shaming happens in the song is when James Reynolds calls her his “whore wife.”  We’re obviously not meant to trust his judgement, since he says this in the middle of blackmailing Hamilton.)  She seems desperate for a better life with a better man, and let’s face it, during that time in history the only way for her to move upwards was by attaching herself to a man.  She’s in a horrible situation, and she makes the wrong choice, but the song never minimizes her or demonizes her.

Hamilton:
I am helpless—how could I do this?

Instead, the blame is placed firmly on Hamilton.  No matter how fiercely Maria might have flung herself at him, the musical is adamant:  he could have said no.  That is, in fact, the name of the song: “Say No to This.”  Throughout the piece, Hamilton goes from praying “Lord, show me how to say no to this” to admitting “I don’t say no to this.”  To make it even more obvious, the end of the song concludes with a chorus of voices:  the ensemble shouts “NO” while Hamilton and Maria sing “Yes!” to each other.  If that’s not consent, I don’t know what is.

The fact that Hamilton cheated on Eliza with Maria is a tragedy.  But in the face of cultural schemas that portray women as sluts begging for it or temptresses ruining men’s lives, Hamilton says “no.”  Maria Reynolds is responsible for her actions only.  Alexander Hamilton is responsible for how he responded.  It is so refreshing to listen to a musical that does what it can to diminish our dangerous stereotypes.

I Can Die In Peace, Because I Saw Hamilton on Broadway

… …

I don’t even!  Know!  Where to begin.  Half of me feels very centered and calm, like I could die because life has given me its greatest gift:  seeing Hamilton on Broadway with its original cast.  The other half of me wants to spin in circles shouting into the sky because life has given me its greatest gift:  seeing Hamilton on Broadway with its original cast.

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At this point in the day, Mom’s excitement is a little bit forced.  By the end, she was fangirling hard.

Our hotel is a three minute walk (turn right on 46th) from Richard Rodgers Theatre, so it was a Hamilton kind of day.  We walked past at noon, and I tried to control an intense wave of envy when we saw the lucky 21 lottery winners who would be seeing the matinee in just two hours.  But we had back-row seats for the night’s performance, so I swallowed my jealousy and followed my mom around other, less important areas of New York City.

We were back at the theater at 4:30.  I wanted to be early for #ham4ham, which began at 5:55.  Ridiculously early, but serendipitous.  I asked a woman standing by a barricade if she was in line for the lottery, and she said no, the matinee was about to let out, and this was where the cast came out to sign autographs.  “Okay then,” I said, claiming a front row spot in front of the door.   Continue reading

How I Got Tickets to See Hamilton on Broadway

[Editor’s Note:  If at any point while reading this you think, Wow, she’s a spoiled brat, you are correct.]

Yesterday I discussed the process my mom and I went through as we planned to come to NYC (we’re here now!).  I’ll be honest:  I’m always up for a trip, but I wasn’t super excited about going to NYC again (my mom and I went for a few days in July 2010).  The fact that it will be the Christmas season was definitely a bonus, but still, my passion level was at about a 6 out of 10.

AND THEN.  A few days later, I discovered the musical Hamilton, and if you’ve been paying attention to this blog at all, the rest is history.

My brain quickly put together:  Hamilton is on Broadway, and Broadway is in NYC.  Suddenly the trip was a 10 out of 10.  I immediately looked at their website, and my passion plummeted to a 0.  They were sold out.  For months.

This roller coaster of emotion continued.  I discovered #ham4ham, a lottery in which Lin-Manuel Miranda and cast perform a little bit to street crowds, then offer 21 front row tickets in a raffle – if you win, you pay $10 (because Hamilton is on the bill).  Awesome!, I thought.  Until I read on and saw that every single day, an average of 700 people show up to put their names in the raffle.  I calculated our odds to be .003%.  Noooo.   Continue reading

The Death of Cultural Irony

My friend Elizabeth recently brought an article called “‘Hamilton’ and the end of irony” to my attention.  Because it is about Hamilton, I was immediately interested, but it drew me in further by making some really interesting cultural observations.

I had the good fortune a few weeks ago to see “Hamilton,” the musical currently swallowing Broadway whole (AND WHOSE CAST RECORDING IS NOW AVAILABLE TO STREAM ONLINE!!!! YES, THIS ABSOLUTELY MERITS ALL CAPS! THIS IS LIKE BROADWAY CHRISTMAS! ALSO THE WHOLE THEME OF THIS PIECE IS SHARING YOUR ENTHUSIASMS!!!).

(Ahem.)

Alexandra Petri makes the astute observation that Hamilton is an earnest musical about an incredibly earnest guy, and that this sincerity is the heart of its success.

I agree!  I think we live in an age of sincerity, if I can steal a phrase from Jonathan Fitzgerald’s article “Sincerity, Not Irony, Is Our Age’s Ethos.”  Uninhibited love for things is everywhere, from the 90s nostalgia of my generation to the huge success of The Avengers movie.   Continue reading

A Cliff’s Note Version of Hamilton the Musical

Even though Entertainment Weekly has called Hamilton “the biggest cultural smash on Broadway this decade” it can be hard to convince people to give the two and half hour, 46-song musical soundtrack a shot.  For the sake of the joy and inspiration everyone is guaranteed to find in the story of Alexander Hamilton as told by Lin-Manuel Miranda, I’ve created a Cliff Note’s version of the musical’s story, links to key songs included.

[Side note:  You won’t see the actors while listening to the cast album, but I think it is extremely important to note that the majority of the actors and actresses are people of color.  Miranda himself is Puerto Rican, and the men who play Aaron Burr, George Washington, and Thomas Jefferson are black.  Hamilton’s wife and her sister are played by a biracial Asian woman and a black woman respectively.  I am so in love with Miranda’s goal of telling the story of America’s past with the voices of America’s present.]


Alexander Hamilton was born on a Caribbean island, the bastard son of a Scotsman and a prostitute.  He becomes an orphan when his dad skips out and his mother dies, and the cousin who takes him in winds up committing suicide.  When he was a teenager, a hurricane devastated his hometown, and after writing about his experience, a fund was collected to send him to America.  Dude has a serious chip on his shoulder, and he is determined to prove his worth by demanding everyone’s attention and hiding his self-doubts (“Alexander Hamilton“).   Continue reading

When to Act and When to Wait

The combination of obsessively listening to the Hamilton soundtrack and reading old blog entires for my Ten Years Ago… series has gotten me thinking a lot about waiting and acting.

I’ve always felt like a mass of contradictions, wanting to DO and BE and change the world!!! while also being absolutely terrified of walking into a room of strangers.  I think I have grown into some confidence, and also learned how to say no to the unnecessarily stressful things that I can avoid.  But still, there is a push/pull within me that urges me forward and holds me back simultaneously.   Continue reading