I’m so tired of seeing people being so rude to the Hamilton fandom. Especially when the Hamilton fandom are just minding their own business. For example, I’ll be scrolling and see a post sharing interesting or funny facts about the founding fathers. And there is always a guarantee that someone will hijack that post or send anon messages like, “The founding fathers were slave owners, so you’re a terrible human being for liking Hamilton or American History.”
And you know what? I’ve had it. I have several responses to these accusations.
“The founding fathers were slave owners and you keep ignoring that.”
Let’s get the big one out of the way. Most of the founding fathers were slave owners. No one is denying or defending that. However, most of the fandom (and people who study American History) generally think ‘”That’s really disappointing to know… I wish things were different. America would have been a better place if these important figures were abolitionists.” But after that, they continue on to study more about the good and bad in history. That horrific part of history will always be there. And that will never change. BUT. BUT BUT BUT BUT BUT! Just because we don’t talk about it all the live long day does not mean we don’t acknowledge it. WE. KNOW.
However, there are so many amazing things the founding fathers did that can not be ignored. Like it or not, all of these people played an important part in creating a whole country basically from scratch. We don’t ignore the fact that they owned slaves, but we also don’t ignore the great things they’ve done to create a new nation either. Both are huge factors in our history. And we acknowledge both.
We don’t see them as gods with no flaws. We see the founding fathers as they were. Real people, with real complex personalities and issues. They were right about a lot of things. And horribly wrong about others. They both did great and terrible things. Does the good justify the bad? Of course not! Everyone knows that! But just because people focus on the positive does not mean we diminish or ignore the negative! WE. KNOW. Okay, next!
• “The musical glorifies slave owners!!! The show is racist and you’re racist if you like it!”
Did you watch the same musical as I did? Because in the show, Hamilton hated Jefferson because Jefferson owned slaves. They don’t ignore the issue or diminish it by pretending it never happened. Rather, they show that it was a thing and not every one supported it. However, they show the complex situations regarding slavery at the time. For example, it was mentioned in the beginning that Hamilton started career as a trading charter… which included ships with slaves from time to time. That’s messed up. What’s worse is that Hamilton was a poor 14 year old kid with no family and no way to support himself at the time. If he wasn’t given the job, he would have starved and died in the Caribbean. It would have been a horrifying job for an adult, but he was still a child. A child who seen the horrors of slavery with his own eyes. That’s terrible! But seeing those acts started his abolitionist worldview from an early age. They present in the opening song the complex childhood he had and you see how that influenced Hamilton when he fights against Jefferson later in life. And from the “Cabinet Battle 1″ song you can see that he is against slavery. Just because it’s not the main focus of the show, that doesn’t mean the issue is completely ignored. And if you want a more bold example, let’s talk about John Laurens.
JOHN LAURENS IN REAL LIFE AND IN THE SHOW WAS A WHITE GUY THAT PUBLICLY STOOD AGAINST SLAVERY. That’s one of the major focuses on his character! He has an entire verse in the second song the show about wanting to free slaves and mentions this goal multiple times within the show! And when he *spoilers* dies in the show, it’s treated as a huge tragedy because his dream of freeing the black troops died with him. It’s treated as a horrible tragedy. And it was that event that caused Hamilton to kick start his political career because his best friend failed to accomplish that goal. And after this event, Hamilton is way more vocal about the issue in the second act. He was NOT a slave owner and acted as a voice against the horrible common practice of his time. If the show did not have Laurens as a strong voice against slavery or if they had written him out of the show, then okay. I can kind of see the anger. But Laurens acts as a modern voice to those times. So stop treating every character as a racist when the show CLEARLY PLACES HISTORICAL CHARACTERS WHO WERE AGAINST SLAVERY IN THE FOREFRONT OF THE SHOW!
And George Washington? If you watch any clip of the finale, when Eliza mentions how she fought against slavery, look at George. He hangs his head low and backs away ashamed. Because Washington could have done more. That’s. The. Point. The show never ignores the fact that slavery was an issue of their time. And they strongly say in the end that these people could have done more for those people! If the show really glorified slave owners they would have left out the complex aspects of Hamilton’s childhood from the show, completely taken out all mentions of slavery from the get go (or written Laurens out of the story), or deny that the founding fathers owned slaves within the show itself. But they acknowledge it and mention multiple times that slavery is a bad thing and the show presents itself in a sorrowful “we wish things were different” way.
Speaking of the show… apparently Hamilton the Musical as a whole is considered racist to some people. How? The show is the only one I can think of that stood for including many different kinds of ethnicities in one production. Seriously. I’ve never seen a show that is so inclusive of all actors from all ethnicities for the entire cast! Hamilton gave all kinds of actors a chance to be included. The show celebrates the creation of America by including a viewpoint of what America looks like today. How is that racist?
Is it because black people are playing slave owners? If that’s the case, then the point went completely over your head, my friend! Anyone could have played Jefferson. Anyone. So why isn’t Jefferson played by a white guy? Because, that is too common in modern media. There are soooo many movies about slavery that has the owner as a white guy, because yes, that’s what happened. Now, while this is historically accurate, there has been so many slavery stories in media that upon repeated viewings, the meaning of the message risks losing impact because today’s audience is so used to seeing the white guy owning the black guy.
HOWEVER, when we see the black guy owning someone of the same ethnicity, it visually solidifies the anti-slavery message in a new and impactful way. The whole point is when you see a black man playing Jefferson, you’re supposed to feel a disconnect. Jefferson owned slaves. But we see him as a black man being a slave owner. We are supposed to feel uncomfortable because we see that they are the same. The same. As in, THE SAME HUMAN RACE. By showing how ridiculous it is for a black man to own someone from his own ethnicity, we are given a new strong visualization of why slavery shouldn’t have happened in a way that has never been done before in recent year. In other words, IT’S VISUAL SYMBOLISM THAT SLAVERY IS WRONG BECAUSE WE ARE ALL HUMAN BEINGS!
Also, how are people who like Hamilton racist? The Hamilton fandom has been so accepting of the diversity in the cast, it’s is mind blowing. I’ve seen people get angry because a black woman played Eponine in Les Mis. Or that a latino man portrayed The Phantom in an Andrew Lloyd Webber concert. But Hamilton? With every change to the cast, the fandom have been so supportive of diversity, regardless of who plays who. The show accepts anyone and everyone from every ethnicity and I fail to think of one other show that uses so much diversity. Hamilton has been accepted and celebrated by the majority of viewers because of this. And the fandom does wonders in showing broadway that diversity is something that should not be ignored, but celebrated.
• “You’re advocating slavery by liking this show.”
That doesn’t make any sense. The actors don’t own slaves. Lin-Manuel Miranda doesn’t own slaves. There is no part in the show where someone tells someone that people should be slave owners. Most people who like Hamilton and American History do not fantasize about owning other people. Slavery is in the long distant past for most of the modern world! THANK GOD.
Again, most people who like American History or Hamilton are well aware of the good and the bad these people inhibited. They don’t deny the awful things these real people did, but they don’t ignore the good acts either. The founding fathers were real people. We don’t advocate everything they did. And we don’t treat them like perfect beings. The end.
• “This actor supports an organization I don’t support, so they are evil and any show that uses them are evil too!”
I see this mindset all over Tumblr all the time. However, I’m starting to see it circulate within the same circles who keep harassing the Hamilton fandom. So forgive me for the tangent, but this needs to be addressed as well.
Here’s a hypothetical situation. You have a friend. A close friend. One that has been with you through thick and think over many years. And you just find out that they support an organization that you don’t. Do you cut off that friendship because of that one fact? Most people wouldn’t, because that friendship is too important to them to risk losing.
This should apply to the things you like. When you like a show, movie, an actor, a writer, or anything- there is always going to be something about that thing that people or even yourself will not like. It is literallyimpossible to have someone who will have the exact same mindset as you. But everyone has a personal reason why they support or advocate something. It is not up to you to change that. Now, people’s opinions can change, and you can help shape other people… but most of the time, they will continue to live their own lives beyond your control. You can never really know someone inside and out. Don’t drop people just because you have a different viewpoint.
This applies to actors too. People are saying Lin is a horrible person because he donated to Autism Speaks. So was it a huge campaign? Did he ever say that Autism Speaks is the cure for Autism? Did he try to rally a bunch of people to donate to this organization? Actually no. He made one tweet talking about how he donated for a friend’s cause. And people fail to mention that this tweet was made over four years ago. That’s right. These people are using one tweet from OVER FOUR YEARS AGO as justification to harass an entire fandom. If you actually read the tweet, the post was more about supporting his friend than the organization itself. A lot of people donate to organizations for a friend’s need without really reading into the organization itself. You do realize that people can be unaware about these corporations, right? For crying out loud, my mom just learned the truth about PETA. And people are still acting like he’s a spokesman for Autism Speaks. Which obviously he’s not. He made one post from four years ago. Four years is a long time and people tend to change opinions in that span of time. Has he made another post about Autism Speaks? No. It’s just that one post, so it was most likely a one and done deal to support his friend. That’s hardly something to hold an eternal grudge over. Especially since it happened OVER FOUR YEARS AGO and he hasn’t made another post about it since!
The other reason why people hate Lin is because he used the N word once and “didn’t apologize.” Yet what people don’t reveal is he was quoting David Diggs for the Hamiltome audiobook. He was quoting David Diggs, the black actor who played Jefferson. It was a direct quote and Lin read it word for word as directed for the audio book. That’s it. It’s not like he uses the N word as a derogatory term in daily life. It was a one and done deal for a direct quote in an audiobook. There’s a difference between saying something out of your own accord and quoting someone, especially for an audiobook. Yes the quote was censored in the book, but when you have an audio book, it’s hard to edit a quote without an audio or visual context. In situations like this, the reader has to go by what the director wants. It’s not their choice what’s written or what they should say instead. They just read what’s given to them. That’s the job! If anything, y’all should have been mad that the director didn’t add a *beep* noise in the editing room.
What annoys me about the whole thing is that it takes one person to post something with exaggerated or misinformed content. And with Tumblr’s already “walking on eggshells” and “one strike, you’re out” mentality, it is ridiculously easy to get people to blindly hate, when most of those people won’t even check to see if that information is true! Or if it’s in the right context. People in general need to do their own research before spreading exaggerated or falsified information. It literally took me two minutes to look all this up. Do your own research before jumping to conclusions.
Getting back on track. My main point is this. With very very few exceptions, people (living or dead) are not gods or devils and shouldn’t be treated as such. They are humans with their own complicated problems that result in their own individual opinions and thought processes. We are not ignorant of the negative just because we enjoy the positive. We know people are going to make mistakes.They have made mistakes! They are going to do things you will not like. This is a fact that will never change no matter what. However, you can still like the positive things they do or did! It is not a crime to enjoy the positives of someone. That doesn’t mean you’re ignoring the negative. Appreciating a famous person (past or present) does NOT mean you support everything they do. So please just leave people alone!
In conclusion, American History enthusiasts and Hamilton the Musical fans DO NOT advocate everything that our founding fathers did.
Dido Elizabeth Belle (1761–1804) to the left in the painting. She was born into slavery as the natural daughter of Maria Belle, an enslaved African woman in the West Indies, and Sir John Lindsay, a British career naval officer who was stationed there. He was later knighted and promoted to admiral. Lindsay took Belle with him when he returned to England in 1765, entrusting her to his uncle William Murray, 1st Earl of Mansfield, and his wife Elizabeth to raise. The Murrays educated Belle, bringing her up as a free gentlewoman at their Kenwood House, together with their niece, Lady Elizabeth Murray, whose mother had died. Belle lived there for 30 years. In his will of 1793, Lord Mansfield confirmed her freedom and provided an outright sum and an annuity to her, making her an heiress. To the right in the painting her cousin Lady Elizabeth Murray.
C: Art has always been a great part of my life. Anime, manga, comic books, novels, even fanfiction has always been inspiring, fun, and creative. Funny thing is, I thought things like comic books were a “white” thing and mangas was an “Asian” thing. It sounds as dumb as it reads, but I’ve lived in a predominantly black neighborhood where I didn’t really see much comic books or graphic novels unless you went to a library really far from where my family lived. I had video games, which was a rarity, and made me want to be a video game designer, and after getting over the anxiety of liking manga in middle school, graphic novelist or comic book artist seemed like a better start (then video game design). I want to create stories like Studio Ghibli, but for young black kids. Stories that’s about adventure, romance, and it doesn’t revolve around “the hood” or about “getting out of the hood” or another damn slavery movie or sports/“I want to go to college” movie. So much of that has been beaten into our heads it’s like we ignore that we can create a wonderful story that doesn’t have to remind us of the world we live in and been through BECAUSE WE LIVE IT. I’m more than determined to share the adventures i want to share, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who wants to do the same. I want to give black children wonderful stories and the adventure they deserve.
Have you ever seen people explain why they think Kylo Ren is a whiny entitled MRA dudebro? Because I feel like I've only seen them take it as read and go from there.
The closest things I’ve seen to reasons are
Reason 1) He tells Rey she needs him to teach her, even though she kicks his ass. Mansplaining!
What I haven’t seen acknowledged: by the time of the duel with Rey, he’d been stabbed in the shoulder. And had a bleeding wound in his side from a generally fatal weapon. And had inflicted enormous emotional trauma on himself by way of his totally fucked moral compass. And had just fought someone else. And was winning the fight when he made the offer and waited for her to think it over, rather than shoving her into the abyss of death under her feet.
It’s not that she didn’t legitimately beat him! But people act like she trounced peak Kylo Ren with a hand tied behind her back rather than winning a hard-fought duel under favourable conditions. (Same thing goes for the Mary Sue people >_>)
Also, the people insisting on “you need a teacher” = mansplaining have presumably never seen The Empire Strikes Back. This is the standard emotionally-compromised-Darksider party line. There is nothing gendered about it, or about anyone’s treatment of her. That’s a wonderful breath of fresh air–or would be if people didn’t seem incapable of even imagining a world where a young woman doesn’t grapple with misogyny at every turn.
Rey’s story is not Girl Fights Sexism. It’s a young woman getting a classic, pure, sparkly Hero’s Journey with all the bells and whistles, and nobody quite knows what to do with that.
Reason 2) As Leia’s son, he’s quasi-royalty and comes from a position of immense class privilege, and feels entitled to valuable items that actually belong to other people. Or to no one.
What I haven’t seen: any acknowledgment whatsoever that Leia’s status is inextricably bound up with the genocide of her people. Nor have I seen any distinction drawn between his class privilege as an Organa and his sense of identity as a Skywalker. His entitlement is never remotely linked to class. It’s concentrated on the legacy and possessions of his natural grandfather, a former slave from a poverty-stricken desert controlled by gangsters.
As we all know, believing you have a right to inherit the belongings of your dead grandparents is basically like burning money in front of homeless people.
Reason 3) He was supposed to be Darth Vader Mk 2, but isn’t an invincible (?), inscrutable badass expressing nothing (??) but icy displeasure.
Rather, he broadcasts his bewildered cultist angst instead of suppressing all emotion but rage as a Dark Lord ought. He’s coming apart at the seams and admits to it, which is impotently whiny, but also something to do with school shooters. And not, say, a struggle with his indoctrination. He
never succeeds at anything except freezing a laser in midair, psychically holding people immobile, sensing a random stormtrooper’s emotional upheaval, telepathically extracting information, deflecting blaster bolts, knocking someone unconscious with a thought, holding his ground when shot by the bowcaster of death, and trashing an uninjured combatant in a duel. He even cries about having to murder his father, the wimp.
Also, he has a young, vulnerable, moderately unconventional face and lustrous helmet-defying hair. VADER WAS BALD AND SCARRED AND PREMATURELY AGED, OK.
It’s almost like being young, half-trained, and not actually Darth Vader were integral to his character or something.
This is my confession. You must use it. Names, ships records, ports, people. Everything I remember is in here…. you must publish it… I couldn’t breath until I wrote this. ‘I once was blind, but now I see.’ Didn’t I write that too?
Yes, you did.
Well now at last, it’s true.
-John Newton; former slaver turned preacher & composer of 'Amazing Grace’
As someone who, overall, enjoyed fantastic beasts, it really causes a lot of issues for the worldbuilding
I think fantastic beasts really highlights a flaw in jkrs writing. Mainly, how the rules for her world really only work if you consider white people, and totally fall apart when you consider the same world from anyone else’s point of view.
The idea that in america you can have 0 contact with no-majs is fine, if 1. Everyone is white and/or 2. Magic is entirely hereditary. But neither or those ia true.
The movie takes place, what 60 years after slavery was abolished? What happened when a wizard was born a slave? Were they left to form an obsurial? (No, they say there hadnt been one for centuries in america) were they whisked away to the magical world and expected to leave their relatives to rot in slavery?
The movie takes place 30 years after the wounded knee massacre. What about magical children born in native communities? Are they invited to ilvermony? Do they let their communities be butchered?
What will happen in less than 20 years when japanese internment camps begin? Will witches and wizards of Japanese heritage just pack up and go to the camps too? Will they go into hiding and leave their potentially nonmagical families?
Jk seems content to act as though the Wizarding world has no racsim and instead uses magic vs nomaj tensions as an allegory. But that doesnt work when you have muggle born wizards who would be affected by racism in the nonmagical world.
And i dont think jk has ever even considered this. And it shows.
A great deal of responsibility is laid at the feet of black people when it comes to the box office success or failure of black movies. A great deal of responsibility is laid on the shoulders of black art or art about black lives.
I remember when Red Tails came out, and many people blamed black movie goers for its failure as if we alone had the financial power to make the movie rise. In many interviews, Stephen Spielberg, who directed Red Tails, framed going to see the movie as a moral obligation, as if through moviegoing, we might find racial uplift. Red Tails failed because it is a bad movie. A movie is not inherently good simply because it tells a story about black lives.
There is also this troubling idea that everything we need to learn about history, black or otherwise, can only be learned through movies. There are books and plays and music and visual art that also do the work of teaching us about our past.
Nate Parker’s Birth of a Nation was released last Friday and so far the movie has done just fine, particularly for a movie of its ilk. But because the movie didn’t have, like, a $25 million, splashy opening, there are certain people who are crying conspiracy.
Now, I wrote an essay for the NY Times about how I struggled to have any empathy for Nate Parker, who as we now know, was accused of gang rape when he was 19. I clearly articulated why I was struggling and I was speaking only for myself. Certain people think this essay means that I am not down for black men or that I am part of a grand conspiracy theory to take down the movie, and in turn, career of a man I do not know. This is nonsense.
Certain people have said black women and more specifically black Feminists are responsible for the movie’s supposed failure because black women are an easy scapegoat. We are, I guess, part of this grand conspiracy. Some of us, these certain people say, are just mad that Nate Parker has a white wife which is so absurd and facile it would be laughable if it wasn’t so fucking pathetic. Who even knew about Nate Parker’s wife? Who the hell cares? No one with any goddamned sense.
We are being asked, it seems, to ignore our womanhood and free will in favor of our blackness and blind submission to some greater good that isn’t necessarily in our best interests.
I was never going to see Birth of a Nation, because I do not want to see any more movies about slavery. I have written about this a few times. I understand how horrible slavery was. I understand what it did to the black body, mind and spirit. I understand how the effects of slavery can still be seen in contemporary America. I do not need to see another black woman violated or degraded. I do not need to see another black man’s back torn open by a white man’s whip. I am fucking done with slavery movies while ALSO understanding that it is important to continue to tell stories and make movies about slavery.
Because of my personal history and Nate Parker’s troubling history, I had two reasons to not see Birth of a Nation. I also read the reviews which were mixed but generally seemed to say that the movie itself is flawed, perhaps mediocre, historically inaccurate, with one-dimensional women characters whose sexual violation is used as the catalyst for Nat Turner’s rebellion. Most of those reviews also said Parker has a lot of talent and potential and that the movie is worth seeing. These are reviews that seem on par for a debut film and they are reviews that, from the ones I read (NY Times, etc), considered the movie on its own merits and not the director’s past.
I have no doubt that Nate Parker’s past has affected Birth of a Nation but even more damaging has been his willfully dismissive attitude in the aftermath. He doesn’t seem to understand why so many people are troubled by his past, his indifference to the victim and his certitude that he did nothing wrong 19 years ago. He turned down an offer for help from Oprah, which is like spitting in God’s face. That’s his right. He is a grown ass man. As a grown ass woman, I am allowed to have opinions on his behavior 19 years ago and now. And it’s just that–opinions. I am one person and yes, I have influence but I have repeatedly said that I don’t support or suggest a boycott of Birth of a Nation. Think for yourself. Do what you want.
I also have no doubt that Fox Searchlight absolutely will make their money back and then some. Some people will learn about Nat Turner from this movie. Some will learn about Nat Turner from the hundreds, if not thousands of BOOKS that have been written about him. There will be other Nat Turner movies. Nate Parker will make another movie. Life will go on. Other movies about black lives, past and present, WILL be made. And this brings us to the burden of black art, which is expected to be consumed mindlessly and uncritically so that it might succeed so that more black art can be made. This isn’t how the creation of black art should work. This is why we need to have better conversations about diversity. We need more than representation. We need the chance to be flawed and to create flawed black art without the fate of all black art and black artists hanging in the balance.
I love “Hidden Figures”, but the fact that the white director and screenwriter defended his inclusion of the bathroom scene (where a white male authority figure takes down a sign that says “whites only” over a bathroom and declares that they’re not going to segregate at NASA anymore) by saying that he thinks it’s important to show white people doing the right thing in historical movies that include racism, and then getting offended when people accuse him of perpetuating the white savior complex and defending himself by saying he grew up in a “colorless” neighborhood and he doesn’t see black and white is just…wow. Just wow.
1.) I cannot believe there are still supposedly progressive people who use the “colorblind” argument. As a white liberal this is what was taught to me growing up (so that we could separate ourselves from the “bad white people”, see?) but I thought everyone knew this was garbage by now? Saying “I don’t see color” is erasure, it’s just convenient for white people because it wipes the slate clean. And director Melfi using it in this way is exactly what makes it problematic: he’s using the fact that “he doesn’t see color” to defend against very valid accusations concerning race power dynamics.
2.) As a white person I’m very well aware of the fact that historically we have done very garbage things. I don’t need Hollywood to cater to me and my sensitive little bleeding white heart by including scenes of white people doing the right thing. In fact, this sort of thing actually fucked with my head when I was younger, because I’ve always been that girl who loves looking up the accuracy of films based on true stories. And every time I saw a movie about slavery or segregation or civil rights, there’s always some storyline or scene with the “good white person” and it’s always either conflated beyond its actual importance, or completely fabricated. Which only made me feel bad because wow, all white people must have been so monstrous in history that they have to fictionalize decent white people in order to make us seem human.
3.) What would be a far more interesting and useful use of everyone’s time and attention would be to accurately show how white people were like in that time, because it’s not just a matter of “racist white people” and “non-racist white people.” I saw an interview where Kirsten Dunst said “I don’t think my character is racist, she just spoke down to the black women because of a class system.” Oh do you mean the class system where white people treated “colored” people like garbage? That’s called institutional racism honey. It really comes down to the fact that white people love to treat racism like it’s some sort of definable character trait, when in reality it’s something ingrained in society. That’s why it’s important to accurately portray white people going along with segregation like it’s all normal because that’s the thing: it was normal for them. And we look back on that and are horrified, but that was only half a decade ago.
You have to show “good” white people doing the wrong thing in films about segregation. Because it starts to make people wonder: what am I doing now that will horrify people fifty years from now?
The critically acclaimed 12 Years A Slave, which won the Oscar for both Best Picture and Most Plot Given Away By Title, tells the true story of Solomon Northup, a free black man in 19th century America who was kidnapped and enslaved. He deals with that shit for 12 years before finally getting reunited with his family for the perfect happy ending. Then, right before the credits, a little stinger goes up onscreen reading “the date, location, and circumstances of Solomon’s death are unknown.”
OK, weird. B-but … that’s because it’s 1850 and they kept bad records, right? Right?
The Unpleasant Real Ending: Take a minute to imagine what Northup’s family was going through during those 12 years. The man straight-up disappeared. For years, his family’s every waking moment was spent looking for him, thinking he was in trouble, thinking he was dead, and thinking maybe he left on purpose. When Northup was freed in 1853, he returned to his family in New York and published 12 Years a Slave later that year. During this time, he (unsuccessfully) tried suing his kidnappers, moved in with his daughter, and gave lectures on slavery. Then, four years later, he fucking disappeared again. To this day, historians and even family members have no idea what happened to him. According to a newspaper article, his last public appearance was in August 1857 in Ontario, though a reverend claimed he saw him in Vermont five years later.
this made my heart so incredibly happy ❤️ if you guys want a good movie to watch that portrays racism, and how hard blacks people truly had/have it- I highly recommend 42 or The Express - The Life of Ernie Davis. amazing movies.