Posted on March 2, 2021

Here’s Why People Are Saying ‘Hamilton’ Is ‘Canceled’

Josh St. Clair and Evan Romano, Men's Health, February 26, 2021

After debuting at New York City’s The Public Theater in January 2015, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical Hamilton became a cultural phenomenon, going on to win 11 Tony awards and pack Broadway theaters night after night. Last summer, after half a decade and a whole lot of hype, the musical was made available for anyone to stream at home; all you need is a Disney+ subscription and 2 hours and 40 minutes to spare.

With that streaming premiere, the musical then qualified for more accolades with the Golden Globes. It was nominated both for Best Picture in the Musical/Comedy category and Best Actor (Miranda) for the same category.

But despite the critical love, many viewers of the musical voiced criticism during its Disney+ premiere. Beginning early summer, viewers began using the hashtag #CancelHamilton. Coinciding with ongoing Black Lives Matter protests following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, the Hamilton movie had given new fuel to long-held concerns: namely, that the show glorifies America’s slave-owning founding fathers—including George Washington and Thomas Jefferson—and doesn’t give a voice to any people who were enslaved.

Some detractors point to the fact that Hamilton glorifies George Washington, who owned 123 of the 317 slaves at Mount Vernon during the time when the show is set. {snip} And according to the Washington Post, others note that while the show’s hero, Alexander Hamilton, was an abolitionist who didn’t own slaves, the fact that he worked closely with slave-owning founding fathers makes him a cog in a racist system.

Other critical viewers have pointed to audio clips of Miranda saying the n-word, once when reading from a Hamilton audiobook footnote, and once when reading an excerpt from the writer Junot Díaz.


As calls to #CancelHamilton continued to gain traction on social media, Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda said the criticisms of his award-winning Broadway musical are “valid.”

Miranda unlocked his Twitter account on July 6, quoting a thread from writer Tracey Clayton, who herself was responding to the criticisms of Hamilton.

“i totally get the frustration about it being a play about slaveholders that is not about slavery. ive felt that in lots of things i watch, but i flex the same muscle i use when i listen to hip hop as a black woman. we enjoy problematic things all the time,” Clayton wrote. “after reading the critiques i would have appreciated more context about hamilton & slavery. but to lump it in with statues of columbus and robert e lee denies this conversation the nuance it deserves & we’re capable of giving it that.”

Miranda quoted the first of Clayton’s tweets (her thoughts were posted in a six-tweet thread), thanking her for her perspective and acknowledging the flaws in his work.


At the end of May, in the aftermath of Floyd’s death at the hands of police in Minneapolis, Miranda appeared in a video posted to the Hamilton social media accounts and apologized for not speaking out for himself and on behalf of the show against white supremacy earlier.