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Hamilton

With the debut of Hamilton on Disney+ last week millions of people around the world who never had the chance to see the show on Broadway have now been able to experience the cultural phenomenon. For the most part, the film has been showered with praise, but Hamilton hasn't escaped without some criticisms. While one might expect Lin-Manuel Miranda to be defensive about the show he put so much work into, he's actually being rather open to those giving it a critical eye.

Many of the characters in Hamilton were slaveholders, and slavery, while not absent from the play, is not of major concern and thus is not explored in any real way. Lin-Manuel Miranda openly admits that there were aspects of these complex characters that he was either unable to fit into his play or simply unable to properly articulate, and he accepts the criticism that comes with that.

Certainly, Lin-Manuel Miranda amplified these words by retweeting the comment to his own followers, so he's not afraid of the responses. When he says the criticism is valid, he means it. While the initial thread is largely supportive of Hamilton as a piece of art, it also does say that it would have been nice if there had been more discussion of slavery within the show.

Most people are complicated and not wholly good or wholly evil. And certainly, Alexander Hamilton is no exception. History indicates that Hamilton himself did not own slaves, but he was professionally involved in the slave trade at different points in his life, something which the play does not address. Hamilton made public comments against the institution of slavery, but to call him an abolitionist would be an exaggeration.

There's a certain romanticization that comes with creating a Broadway musical, and so it's understandable that people would see the show making a hero of Hamilton, and there are plenty of reasons not to see him that way.

It certainly would be interesting to see what elements Lin-Manuel Miranda "wrestled with" while working on Hamilton. We might have seen some of the aspects of these characters that people are being critical of in some earlier drafts of the show. The reason we didn't could be any number of reasons. It could just be that the song didn't fit or other parts of the story were ultimately more vital to the larger play.

In the end, most would seem to agree that Lin-Manuel Miranda doing his best is pretty damn good. As a piece of theater Hamilton is certainly something special. It may not be perfectly historically accurate, but few historical stories are, and perhaps the play will inspire people to learn the more complete history. And with that, everybody can make their own judgment of what kind of man Hamilton was.

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