2015 now seems a distant memory. To paraphrase comedian John Mulaney, any time prior to the 2016 election now feels, in retrospect, like one big, wild party with no responsibilities or consequences.
Like other great works of art, ‘Hamilton’ was able to anticipate this coming state of national fragility. It was based around what sounded like a painfully cheesy pitch. Oh, it’s about Alexander Hamilton? And there’s rapping, alongside traditional musical theater showstoppers? Cool.
There’s the famous video clip from Lin-Manuel Miranda, of his performance of an early version of the opening song from ‘Hamilton’ in the Obama White House. During the song, the audience, including Obama and First Lady Michelle, laugh. It’s a ridiculous premise.
But of course it proved to be one of the most significant moments in the history of American musical theater, all out of absolutely nowhere. It had power beyond its immediate story, it rewrote American history to a degree where it included every man, woman, and child, not just white, land-owning males.It showed us an American Revolution in which the goals were pure, the intentions altruistic and saintly. It gave us strength in a time when the country’s future has seemed precarious at best.
But already our impatient media-minded selves want another one. We want to be inspired again. We forget our media quickly, and expect more on a constant basis. And it can’t just merely entertain. Right now, so many Americans need their media to provide some kind of sustenance.
It’s an outlandish demand, yes, almost childish, but it remains true. Have our creators lost the guts needed to directly address the problems of the day?