|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 deliberately casts people of color in the major roles.
The show became a hugely popular international phenomenon. For a time, the creator and actors were very active on social media and were responsive and positive to their fandom. Because the musical is based on history, and the fandom also draws from history for supplemental content, Hamilton fandom has crossover with Historical RPF, and technically Political RPF.
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 canon of the musical and the canon of true US history that the musical is based on can be understood to be separate.
What many regard is the most significant difference between the musical and historical is the racebending, the deliberate casting of people of color as historical figures who were all white. Lin-Manuel Miranda has explained this as a desire to let the people of color who are part of modern America insert and see themselves in the narrative of history. Views on the merits of this choice vary.
Significant characters are Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr, Eliza Hamilton, Angelica Schuyler, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Laurens, Marquis de Lafayette, James Madison, Maria Reynolds, Philip Hamilton, and King George III.
Hamilton became one of AO3's top 5 most popular Theater fandoms in late December 2015, when it hit over 660 works, surpassing The Phantom of the Opera. 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. It April 2016, it hit over 2,500 works and surpassed Sailor Moon to become the second-most popular Theater fandom, after Les Miserables. By the end of 2016 there were over 7,800 public Hamilton works, and by the end of 2017 over 13,600. Fandom activity slowed down in 2018, and Hamilton ended the year with 16,000 works on the site.
In fanart, character designs are usually based on the appearances of the actors in the Original Broadway Cast.
- Alexander Hamilton/John Laurens - speculated to have real-life proof.
- Alexander Hamilton/Eliza Schuyler - historically canon
- Alexander Hamilton/Thomas Jefferson
- Thomas Jefferson/James Madison
- Gilbert du Motier Marquis de Lafayette/Hercules Mulligan
- Alexander Hamilton/Angelica Schuyler - was popular in the early days of fandom but is now one of the less-shipped pairings
- Alexander Hamilton/Aaron Burr - an Enemyslash or Friends to Enemies relationship. The fact that Burr killed Hamilton in real life is a turn-off for many.
Also popular within the fandom are several OT3 relationships. These often involve the titular character, Alexander Hamilton, whom 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.
- 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.
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").
Relationship to History & RPF
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 fanfiction is frequently categorized a "18th Century RPF" as well, and tagged with it on AO3. 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).
RPF fanfiction of the main performers in the OBC is also present. Works categorized as "Hamilton - Miranda (Broadway Cast) RPF" first appeared on AO3 in December 2015. At the end of 2016 there were over 90 works, and by the end of 2017 there were over 410. By the end of 2018, the number had doubled to over 930 works, but the output slowed down significantly in 2019. As of 2019, Lin-Manuel Miranda is the most popular character and is tagged in over 440 works, and is followed closely by Alexander Hamilton. Over 550 works are crossovers between the musical and the cast RPF - these stories involve historical people and modern day actors interacting, usually through time travel.
Fan Interactions with Actors
A lot of Hamilton fanart is also posted to Tumblr, which Lin-Manuel not infrequently rebloged. However, Lin stopped using Tumblr after a period.
In the early days of the fandom, Lin and other cast member frequently interacted with fans on Twitter, often posting behind the scenes videos.
There is also an Actor RPF fandom based on the cast and crew.
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.
Popular Animatic Artists:
To summarize, a Tumblr post that has over 200,000 notes:
kaijuno:In 300 years someone’s gonna make a Hamilton-esque musical with Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders and teenagers on the internet are gonna stan Donald Trump like “uwu my trash son Donald being a drama queen as usual” and I’m gonna have to do it. I’m gonna have to come back from the dead and destroy the planet.
Depiction of Historical Figures
I love how they said confirmed like hes a fictional character and not a actual historical person who actually existed
tubglr: alexander hamilton is a gay nonbinary demi boy uwuu stay hydrated
me, hitting them w a newspaper: get out of my house
to be fair Hamilton is confirmed bi
to be fair Hamilton is confirmed slave owner
the hamilton fandom isnt the bad thing about hamilton. hamilton itself is the worst thing about hamilton. its a play that romanticizes slave owners and racists and casts them as the same race as the people they oppressed. why is it so hard to understand. people who have genderfluid mixed bipolar alexander hamilton headcanons arent the only problem. if you actively consume hamilton content and/or produce it YOU are no better.
Depictions of Race within the Musical
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."
Fandom's Treatment of Race
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 for the dismissal of slavery - or lack of historical accuracy - 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. 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, or are unable to comprehend that people of color can enjoy the musical while simultaneously being critical of it.
thequintessentialqueer made a meta post which began "I love Hamilton, but something about the way white fans engage with the musical really bothers me," which addresses revision of history by both the musical and the fans and criticizes fan practices that draw too much from real history.
See also: Race and Fandom
- why don't you like lin manuel? did he do something?, response by kancrum:
He is singlehandedly responsible for a surge of ‘flower crown uwu I love the slave master founding fathers’ culture. He makes me uncomfortable.
He is a perfect example of that thing where talented people who create media have like maybe 1-2 chances to think “Is this the story I should be telling and am I telling it in the right way?”
In which, while being aware that because they are talented and most things they make will be at least 6/10, they have to wonder about the impact of their creations and whether the narrative/art they are making will alter pop-knowledge.[...]
- making it clear: by foundingfatherstrash-blog:
i do not support or defend the racist or sexist ideas and actions of the founding fathers. in fact, i do not support or defend most of the things that the founding fathers did and believed. period. when i say i love them, i am talking about the way the characters are portrayed in hamilton the musical. i love the way the characters are portrayed. i love the actors who portray the characters. i do not, at all, believe that the founding fathers were good people with good morals. and i would never, ever, ever defend someone who owned other human beings and thought it was okay. i love the characters and the way they are portrayed, not the actual people.
Links & Resources
Meta & Further Reading
- www.metafilter.com/tags/Hamilton, Archived version
- Who Tells Your Story? Historical Fiction as Resistance, Archived version
- Who lives / Who dies / Who remixes your story?, Archived version
- #Ham4Ham, Archived version
- Forget Hamilton: On Tumblr, Founding Fathers Fandom Is Running Wild With Sex and Scholarship (March 2016)
- Alexander Hamilton: Hogwarts Edition, Archived version (March 2016)
- Hamilton is fanfic, and its historical critics are totally missing the point - Fans know exactly what Hamilton is about. Why don't historians? by Aja Romano (July 04, 2016)
- Fandoms on AO3, archived December 24 2015
- Fandoms on AO3, archived April 13 2016
- [https://kaijuno.tumblr.com/post/169590615048/in-300-years-someones-gonna-make-a-hamilton-esque Jan 11, 2018
- Jul 10th, 2018
- 2017-09-26 by unequal
- LMM says the N Word In Hamiltome Audio Book
- Dear Hamilton fandom - original post by whompythoams
- thread on Tumblr
- "I’m so tired of watching oblivious, white hamilton bloggers ignore and argue with Facts™..." by afrosoka on Tumblr
- "please enlighten me as to why black people are allowed to be violent toward lin manuel miranda..." Anonymous ask to stonerjohnlaurens on Tumblr
- "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
- hey what has the slavery au guy /done/ since he deleted his sideblog?, answered by thewarsnotdone on Tumblr
- "I’m really concerned about the growing trend of attacking all content creators in this fandom..." Anonymous ask to blueskysapphic on Tumblr
- "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