Disney’s Hamilton is Cleaner Than the Broadway Version. But That Doesn’t Make It Clean.

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If you’ve ever participated in theater—or even just been exposed to theater—you’ve probably heard the phrase “the show must go on.” And while this is usually applied to when a star singer loses her voice or an actor breaks his toe while performing a stunt on stage, Disney took these words to heart during this coronavirus season.

Hamilton is now streaming on Disney+, providing musical theater enthusiasts everywhere with the opportunity to see a Broadway show, even though Broadway has shut its doors until 2021.

Now, those who’ve heard a bit about the show, and are thinking of letting their children watch, might be a bit concerned about the harsh language and content. It’s rough. As Plugged In’s Paul Asay wrote, “Hamilton’s sexual dalliances are a matter of historical record… The language is refreshingly contemporary but often crude, too.” The original show had three f-words, at least five s-words, along with half a dozen other profanities. Granted, “some of the dialogue gets a bit blurry amid rapid-fire raps,” said Asay, but “we can’t forget that when [Lin-Manuel] Miranda brought Hamilton into the 21st century, he slathered on some very 21st-century issues.”

 

Which is probably why when Disney brought Hamilton to its streaming platform, it decided to cover some of these issues up.

Lin-Manuel Miranda (who wrote the show and starred as Alexander Hamilton in the original Broadway cast and Disney+ version) tweeted that he “literally gave two f—s so the kids could see it.” And viewers watching the show on Disney+ will find that, indeed, the show is sans two of its profanities. Miranda’s justification was that the MPAA’s rule about language would have given the show an automatic “R” rating for having more than one f-word.

And he’s not wrong. Plugged In director Adam Holz said in a podcast earlier this year that “Typically, you can get away with two f-words in a PG-13 movie. That’s why we’ll often see an actioner that has one or two really obviously placed f-bombs that are there for effect. But if you get up to three or four or more, it’s almost an automatic R rating.”

However, cutting two words out of a show doesn’t necessarily make it clean.

In fact, when watching Hamilton myself, it was glaringly obvious where the words had been replaced. Yes, the audio is cut out and if you’ve never listened to the soundtrack before, it’s feasible that you might miss it. But if you’re anything like me and watched the movie with subtitles (because I didn’t want to miss any of those “rapid-fire raps”), you could still catch the four stars that replaced the word on screen.

Essentially, it’s not about how many f-bombs is too many. It’s about whether or not the content as a whole is something you want to expose your family to. For more on media discernment, check out Episode 33 of The Plugged In Show: Media Discernment in Action. And as Asay said in the Plugged In review of the show, “Take a page from the musical’s Washington: Weigh the evidence, think of the benefits but consider the cost.”

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Edna Konrad 28 days ago
Yeah, there's something a little...off about watching people of color play people who literally owned their ancestors and would consider them less than human. I really do not see the appeal of this show.
Sparklemuffin 27 days ago
The return of Edna! I think you're the only one on this site who actually makes sense lol.
Edna Konrad 23 days ago
That's the nicest thing someone's ever said to me here. 
Sparklemuffin 23 days ago
@edna konrad I think you know from experience how offended people get on the internet. If someone says something you know is wrong, just stand your ground and try to stay firm but polite. I'm with you the majority of the time, judging from your past comments.
Anonymous 20 days ago
Yes, I could definitely see the apprehension that a black man could have playing a role in the this movie.  I do think it is important to point out that these men (Hamilton, etc) did not invent slavery.  Slavery (not just black men and women) goes back thousands of years.  These men were merely continuing an institution that had been established in early biblical times.  To our country's credit, we rid ourselves of legal slavery over half a century before it occurred in Africa.  Said another way, the descendants of the slaves transported to America were freed earlier than had they stayed in Africa.
Anonymous 29 days ago
I've never been interested in Hamilton personally. It seemed dumb from the getgo and the Grammy performance of it that one year was annoying beyond belief.
Anonymous 3 months ago

We had heard great things about Hamilton and chose it for our family Saturday night movie.  We really like musicals (Jersey Boys, Wicked, Sound of Music, Mary Poppins,Greatest Showman, Phantom of the Opera, etc) and hoped to add another show to the list of favorites. We made it through 10 minutes and turned it off, which is something I do not ever remembering us do. I love history (not in an overboard, read history for fun way) and love depth of character type movies, but this spin on Hamilton was too far out there.  One of the things that made it so bad was that the actors were very hard to understand as they rapped through their lines.  The actors came across as just that…actors, not the characters they were representing.  Bluntly, it was as if soft actors were cast to play these strong, passionate historical figures and they just could not hide their softness.  This whole experience was akin to trying to gut out a bad meal, but just stopping and saying “You know, I do not have to do this to myself.  We have much better food options and it will only take a few minutes to prepare them.”   

charitysplace 3 months ago
You should have stuck it out longer. The musical struggles for about 20 minutes and then settles much more into a format that "flows." But I agree about them being soft -- Lin is an excellent and talented writer, but his weepy-eyed Hamilton doesn't fit the lyrics very well. And... yeah, turn on the subtitles. It helps a LOT.
Anonymous 3 months ago
No thanks. I'll skip turning the beautiful history and heritage of our country into a revisionist rap song.
The Kenosha Kid 3 months ago
Have you heard any of it? Give it a try. It's based closely on Ron Chernow's not-at-all-revisionist biography, and the hip-hop style effectively captures the ebullience of the revolutionary era in a way no other musical style could.

If you're expecting presentism and "woke" revisionism, you'll be pleasantly surprised by its reverence for America's founders and their principles. 
elseigh 3 months ago
thank you for being the one positive comment on here :) have a great day! 
The Kenosha Kid 3 months ago
Thanks, you too, Elseigh!
Sparklemuffin 3 months ago
"the beautiful history and heritage of our country" lol I wish. If anything, my concern for the play would be glorifying the founding fathers. I wish our history could live up to the simple, "beautiful" version I so often heard about as a kid...unfortunately, it's anything but.
Miss Priss 3 months ago
I actually like Lin's appreciation for our history, even if it's not perfect. He doesn't pretend that they lived up to the ideals of this country, but he is optimistic about the change that is happening in this country. He believes in the potential for change and growth. None of us are perfect and all of us have areas that we need to learn and grow in. If we extended to other people the same grace that we extend to ourselves, we would be more patient with other people. 
Sparklemuffin 3 months ago
Oh, don't get me wrong, I like that, too. I just don't like people who say stuff like "anonymous" did, about our country having a "beautiful" heritage lol
Stephen Slaughterbeck 3 months ago
What's wrong with the founding fathers? Please don't say "because some of them were slave owners."
Sparklemuffin 3 months ago
@stephen slaughterbeck what, like there's nothing wrong with owning slaves? If that's not what you're implying, then I'm...confused. And if that's what you're implying, I'm super confused.

Also, no, that's just a small part of it. This nation was founded off the blood of native peoples. Its founding principles were okay in some regards, but still very problematic and hypocritical. I'm not saying we should erase it--it happened, and we can't cancel history or stop talking about it. But to glorify it is incredibly stupid and dangerous.