Hamilton (musical)

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Fandom
Name: Hamilton
Abbreviation(s):
Creator: Lin-Manuel Miranda
Date(s): 2013 -
Medium: Musical
Country of Origin: US
External Links: Hamilton Broadway official site, Wikipedia:Hamilton (the musical)
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Hamilton is a Broadway musical about Alexander Hamilton and the early days of the United States of America. The creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda, also starred as the titular character. It contains rap and Broadway-style singing and dancing, and racebending which deliberately casts people of color in the major roles.

The creator and actors are very active on social media and are responsive and positive to their fandom.

Hamilton Fandom

On Archive Of Our Own

The show Hamilton is, in many ways, itself an RPF fanwork, following a tradition of Historical RPF written many years after the characters died.

The AO3 tag is Hamilton - Miranda.

The most frequent relationships on AO3 are mostly slash:

  • Alexander Hamilton/John Laurens (4352)
  • Alexander Hamilton/Elizabeth "Eliza" Schuyler (2013)
  • Alexander Hamilton/Thomas Jefferson (1494)
  • Thomas Jefferson/James Madison (1236)
  • Gilbert du Motier Marquis de Lafayette/Hercules Mulligan (1051)
  • Alexander Hamilton/Angelica Schuyler was popular in the early days of fandom but is now one of the less-shipped pairings.

Also present among the community are several OT3 relationships. These often involve the titular character, Alexander Hamilton, who fans ship with multiple people.

  • Alexander Hamilton/Elizabeth "Eliza" Schuyler/John Laurens is the most popular of these, as Hamilton is canonically married to Eliza but was speculatively involved in a relationship with Laurens. This pairing has 391 works on the archive.
  • Alexander Hamilton/John Laurens/Gilbert du Motier Marquis de Lafayette has grown in popularity, due to all three being shipped in some combination, and the presence of historical records proving they shared a close (though possibly platonic) relationship.
  • Alexander Hamilton/Elizabeth "Eliza" Schuyler/Angelica Schuyler Church is teased in the show, but has a small following in the fandom.

RPF fanfiction of the main performers is also present, featuring lead performer and creator Lin-Manuel Miranda in more than half of the 401 fics written as of 17 September, 2016.

It was by far the most popular fandom in Yuletide 2015, with 57 works in the main collection.

Hamilton's popularity continued to steadily expand in 2016, probably helped along by its televised performance and win at the February 2016 Grammy Awards, and later its televised performances and several wins at the June 2016 Tony Awards. As of November 15, 2015 there were 138 works in the AO3 tag, by December 26, 2015 there were 715 works, and as of August 29, 2016 there are 5,299 works in the tag. As of August 6th, 2017, there are 12,417 works in the archive.

Historical Backup

The Hamilton fandom frequently overlaps with the 18th Century RPF fandom, as all characters in the show are real people in that time period. While the latter fandom tends to stick closer to actual events, describing characters as they appeared in history rather than how they appear in the show, they often co-incide, and canon era Hamilton fanfictions are frequently tagged with "18th Century RPF" as well. The show has led many people to do research of their own on the time period, especially by reading the Ron Chernow biography of Alexander Hamilton which inspired the show (and subsequently made both Miranda and Chernow millionaires).

On Tumblr, Twitter, and Ham4Ham

The show runs a "Hamilton for a Hamilton" digital lottery, a daily chance to win a front-row ticket for only $10, the bill with the real Hamilton's face on it. As a reward to the many, many people who stand in line waiting for the lottery, Lin-Manuel Miranda and the rest of the cast (with frequent guest stars), created short daily (or nearly daily) performances outside the theater called #Ham4Ham. This show is generally recorded and uploaded to the show's YouTube channel. The performances are wide ranging in style and content, and often take the form of mashups. These videos quickly became a phenomenon--a wellspring of larger community building, and an inspiration for fan memes. When the weather turned too cold, Lin recorded #Ham4Ham elsewhere (indoors) twice a week and uploaded the video to YouTube on time for the lottery. The live shows ran again briefly in summer 2016, but currently all #Ham4Hams are digital weekly.

One of the most popular Hamilton related mashup memes on Tumblr and Twitter is force4ham. Star Wars characters are paired in screencaps, gifs, and videos with the lyrics and music of the show. potter4ham is also showing up, and there are a few trek4ham posts as well. (Rogue One edit featuring "The Story Of Tonight" lyrics; Arrow gifset featuring lyrics from "It's Quiet Uptown").

A lot of Hamilton fanart is also posted to Tumblr, which Lin-Manuel not infrequently reblogs.

Music

Its nature as a musical has lent itself to many fanvideos or fancovers of its work, which can be found on Youtube. These can be animatics, animated art set to the music, or direct covers or medleys of the songs.

Fanworks

Zines

Controversy

The musical has received some, though of the minor opinion, criticism in: depicting slaveowners (such as Jefferson and Washington) as black men, making light of Jefferson's affair/rape of Sally Hemings, and glorifying the American Founding Fathers. Criticism is particularly directed towards Lin-Manuel Miranda's portrayal of Hamilton, who is written as an "immigrant" and an abolitionist but historically was a socialite who married into a slave trading family and assisted with the slave trades. Much of the criticism also focuses on if the intent and message of the musical is directed towards the right audience, particularly the large number of politicians and white people who are fans.

"You Should Be Terrified That People Who Like Hamilton Run Our Country" is one of many articles that was written in response to Hamilton's overwhelming popularity. Other articles include: "A Hamilton Skeptic On Why The Musical Isn't So Revolutionary," "It's not 'just a musical'," "A color-blind Stockholm syndrome," and "'Hamilton: the Musical:' Black Actors Dress Up like Slave Traders…and It’s Not Halloween."

Miranda also was under fire after it was discovered that he said the n-word in the Hamiltone audiobook.[1]

While plenty of fans of color, especially black fans, enjoy the musical as it is, many are particularly critical of white fandom in their constant need to make excuses[2] for the dismissal of slavery[3] - or lack of historical accuracy[4] - in the musical as well as saying that they don't enjoy rap - but they enjoy the music from Hamilton. Conversely, fans of color also criticize white people who disparage the musical, as the condemnation coming from white people can be read more performative rather than genuine allyship.[5][6] But generally, many people of color have pointed out that white fans frequently try to distance their whiteness from factoring into their participation in Hamilton fandom[7][8], or are unable to comprehend that people of color can enjoy the musical while simultaneously being critical of it.[9]

thequintessentialqueer made the following circulated post:

I love Hamilton, but something about the way white fans engage with the musical really bothers me: a lot of them are posting in the tag about the actual, historical revolutionaries and founding fathers in a way that makes them seem like funny, sweet, good people. They weren’t. I don’t just mean “Jefferson was a piece of shit”: none of them were good. Every one of their asses saw black people as inferior, even if not all of them supported slavery. All of them participated in genocidal policy against indigenous peoples. If you’re watching/listening to Hamilton and then going out and romanticizing the real founding fathers/American revolutionaries, you’re missing the entire point.

Hamilton is not really about the founding fathers. It’s not really about the American Revolution. The revolution, and Hamilton’s life are the narrative subject, but its purpose is not to romanticize real American history: rather, it is to reclaim the narrative of America for people of colour.

Don’t romanticize the founding fathers and the revolution. They’re already romanticized. It’s been done. Your history books have already propagated those lies. The revolution is romanticized as an American narrative because it was a revolution lead by and for white men. Their story is the narrative of the nation and it is a narrative from which people of colour are utterly obliterated.

Do you understand what it’s like to live in a nation where you are made marginal and inconsequential in the historical narrative that you are taught from your first day of school? In the Americas, to be a person of colour is to be made utterly inconsequential to the nation’s history. If you are black, your history begins with slavery, and your agency is denied; they don’t teach about slave rebellions or black revolutionaries. You learn about yourself as entirely shaped by outside forces: white people owned you, then some white people decided to free you and wasn’t that nice of them? and then you’re gone until the civil rights movement. That is the narrative they teach; in which you had no consequence, no value, no impact until less than a century ago. If you are indigenous, you are represented as disappeared, dead, already gone: you do not get to exist, you are already swallowed by history. If you are any other race, you are likely not present at all. To live in a land whose history is not your own, to live in a story in which you are not a character, is a soul-destroying experience.

In Hamilton, Eliza talks, in turn, of “taking herself out of the narrative” and “putting herself back in the narrative.” That’s what Hamilton is about: it’s about putting ourselves in the narrative. It puts people of colour in the centre of the damn narrative of the nation that subjugates them; it takes a story that by all accounts has been constructed to valourize the deeds of white men, and redefines it all.

Why was the American Revolution a revolution? Why were slave revolts revolts? Why do we consider the founding fathers revolutionaries and not the Black Panthers or the Brown Berets or any number of other anti-racist revolutionary organizations? Whose rebellion is valued? Who is allowed to be heroic through defiance? By making the founding fathers people of colour, Hamilton puts people of colour into the American narrative, while simultaneously applying that narrative to the present. Right now, across the United States, across the damn world, people are chanting “black lives matter.” Black people are shutting down malls and highways, demanding justice for the lives stolen by police, by white supremacy. And all across the world, indigenous people are saying “Idle No More,” blockading pipelines, demanding their sovereignty. And “No One is Illegal” is chanting loud enough to shake down the walls at the border; people are demanding the end of refugee detention centres, demanding an end to the violence perpetuated by anti-immigration policies. People of colour are rising up.

…And white people are angry about it. White people are saying “if blacks don’t want to get shot by the police they shouldn’t sag their pants”; saying “get over it” about anti-indigenous policies of assimilation and cultural genocide and land theft; Jennicet Gutiérrez was heckled by white gay men for demanding that president Obama end the detention of undocumented trans women of colour. White people see people of colour rising up and they tell us to sit down. Shut up. Stop making things difficult. The American Revolution was a bunch of white men who didn’t want to be taxed, so white history sees their revolutionary efforts as just; they killed for their emancipation from England; they were militant. That, to white people is acceptable. But those same white people talk shit about Malcolm X for being too violent–a man who never started an uprising against the government leading to bloodshed. Violence is only acceptable in the hands of white people; revolution is only okay when the people leading the charge are white.

Hamilton makes those people brown and black; Hamilton depicts the revolution of which America is proud as one led by people of colour against a white ruling body; there’s a reason King George is the only character who is depicted by a white man. The function of the visual in Hamilton is to challenge a present in which people of colour standing up against oppression are seen as violent and dangerous by the same people who proudly declare allegiance to the flag. It forces white people to see themselves not as the American Revolutionaries, but as the British oppressors. History is happening, and they’re on its bad side.

So don’t listen to or watch Hamilton and then come out of that to romanticize the founding fathers. Don’t let that be what you take away from this show. They’re the vehicle for the narrative, and a tool for conveying the ideologies of the show, but they are not the point. Don’t romanticize the past; fight for the future.[10]

See also: Race and Fandom

Additional Reading/Resources

References

  1. LMM says the N Word In Hamiltome Audio Book
  2. Dear Hamilton fandom - original post by whompythoams
  3. thread on Tumblr
  4. "I’m so tired of watching oblivious, white hamilton bloggers ignore and argue with Facts™..." by afrosoka on Tumblr
  5. "please enlighten me as to why black people are allowed to be violent toward lin manuel miranda..." Anonymous ask to stonerjohnlaurens on Tumblr
  6. "i need to make a comment on lin-manuel miranda’s Hamilton musical and the white fandom and the white people who dislike the white fandom..." by caledons on Tumblr
  7. hey what has the slavery au guy /done/ since he deleted his sideblog?, answered by thewarsnotdone on Tumblr
  8. "I’m really concerned about the growing trend of attacking all content creators in this fandom..." Anonymous ask to blueskysapphic on Tumblr
  9. "you know i thought i knew the level of nonsense that white hamilton fans would get into but i really, really underestimated them..." post by charlemahgns, screencaps of an unknown(?) Dreamwidth thread about Hamilton Tumblr fandom
  10. "I love Hamilton, but something about the way white fans engage with the musical really bothers me..." by the quintessentialqueer on Tumblr