Hamilton already feels outdated

Much of what the musical had to say about America now feels naïve

The Hamilton logo.
(Image credit: Illustrated | iStock)

I am not the first to remark on the strange nature of time these days — the way months seem to compress into the span of weeks, while hours stretch into fortnights and years into lifetimes. Still, I don't think that fully explains why revisiting the Hamilton soundtrack this week felt a little like discovering the ruins of ancient Pompeii: something monumental had clearly existed here once, but a seismic catastrophe has left it pale beneath a layer of dust.

Hamilton feels, anyway, like a relic from a different era. In a sense, it is: Lin-Manuel Miranda's Pulitzer Prize-winning musical emerged during the sunny optimism of the late Obama era, when empowering applause-lines like "immigrants, we get the job done!" were as much a part of the cultural zeitgeist as "I'm With Her" stickers and the push to get Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill. Half a decade on, we now live in a world where Hamilton has failed to age along with it, having idealistically put its full-throated faith into pre-packaged American values and ideals without acknowledging the underlying forces — like the fear-mongering, xenophobia, mean-spiritedness exploited by President Trump — that lay siege to them being realized.

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Jeva Lange

Jeva Lange was the executive editor at TheWeek.com. She formerly served as The Week's deputy editor and culture critic. She is also a contributor to Screen Slate, and her writing has appeared in The New York Daily News, The Awl, Vice, and Gothamist, among other publications. Jeva lives in New York City. Follow her on Twitter.