During the past two weeks, two major stories involving President-Elect Donald Trump happened. One was him settling out of court in the Trump University case for 25 million dollars; the other was his reaction to a message given to VP-Elect Mike Pence by the cast of Hamilton after one of their performances. Guess which story was covered immensely by the news and constantly appeared on social media? If you guessed Trump University, you have too much faith in the American media. It was Hamilton, and despite my opinion that this is the lesser of the two stories, there are some important things to be said about this.
In case you don’t use social media, here’s what happened. Mike Pence attended a performance of the smash-hit Broadway musical, Hamilton. When Pence entered the theater, he was greeted with a hostile audience that booed as Pence went to take his seat. Despite my negative opinions towards Trump and Pence, the booing was uncalled for and wrong, but this is not what made Trump and the right-winged media upset. What made Trump upset was the message delivered to Pence by actor Brandon Victor Dixon. The message included asking the audience members not to boo Pence, and they were afraid Trump’s administration would not represent them and that the cast hoped the show inspired Pence to represent all of the American people.
The statement was non-partisan, and delivered after show was over and all of the company took their vow, but that didn’t stop the divisive news coverage over this. The spark that ignited the flame came from the main source of all controversy, Trump’s Twitter page. Trump said the cast members harassed him, and the theater should be a safe and special place. Both accusations are problematic coming from Trump. As I said before, the statement was nice and polite, and was done after the show. The bigger joke is Trump’s statement saying how the theater should be a safe place. You don’t get to run a campaign that was based on attacking political correctness and safe spaces, and in the process robbing the term political correctness of any meaning, and then demand that same thing you were rallying against. Plus it’s pretty bad when the same person who was appealing to a crowd sick of oversensitive people is offended by musicals and SNL skits. Trump’s self-esteem is very concerning and the only reactions more annoying than his reaction were the one from his followers’.
The embodiment of this reaction was #BoycottHamilton, a hash-tag used by Trump supporters despite the fact that you can’t boycott a sold-out show you wouldn’t be able to see. And while I’m happy that the theater is relevant enough to cause this much controversy, the patronizing posts in the Boycott Hamilton campaign were infuriating. The posts generally that as actors, we solely exist for the purpose of the viewer’s entertainment, and to shut up, dance, and smile like the grinder monkeys we are. I would like to say that as an actor, any artist does not exist solely for entertainment, but to express ourselves through art which can sometimes be political, and political theater has dated back for centuries. The ridiculous responses continue with the ones from major media websites.
The responses from the major media websites are the biggest indicator of there being nothing wrong with Dixon’s statement shown in their arguments against him. Most of them didn’t even attack the statement, but tried to find embarrassing Twitter posts from Dixon, and expose hypocrisy that was not present. And while I’ve been attacking the right through this article, the left isn’t innocent in this matter.
The statement Dixon made to Pence was fine, but the hostility coming from the right is this happening on top of the Trump protests going on, which is giving the right fodder to make the left look like sore losers. I’m not saying we shouldn’t protest. We should, but we need to stop making them blanket protests about not liking Donald Trump. It would have been inappropriate for Dixon’s statement to attack direct policies, but we need to make the protests directly about his dangerous policies and horrendous appointments to his White House staff, and keep them peaceful at all costs. We’ll still get hostility, but with making it about the actual issues we will have the media, both left and right talking about it, starting a discussion and could actually get something done. If you really want to try everything to stop Trump from being sworn in, sign the petition to get the Electoral College to vote for Hillary instead and push for recounts. I have little faith that either of those will work, but those are the only two options left. The best form of action now is to fight the policies and appointments tooth and nail through protests and other campaigns.
We have a rough four years ahead of us. I’m not just talking about Trump’s concerning self-esteem issues and dangerous agenda, but the amount of division made in American by the 2016 Election made worse by Trump’s victory which doesn’t seem to be clearing up any time soon. Fortunately, the message delivered by Dixon shows the power in dissent and freedom of expression, and if we apply it usefully, we might be able to get something positive done.