On Friday night, Mike Pence was addressed by actor Brandon Victor Dixon as he was leaving the evening performance of acclaimed, sold-out smash hit musical Hamilton. Dixon, who plays the United States’ third Vice-President, Aaron Burr, read him a sensitive pre-prepared speech that simply asked the new VP-elect to consider the welfare of all Americans going forward in his political career. In what is to become the fashion of the next Presidency, Donald Trump chose to respond to this event with a series of tweets, in which he slammed Dixon and the Hamilton cast for their ‘harassment’ of Pence.
It is very, very, very important to note, first and foremost, that this is absolutely, categorically not the most important Trump-related news that’s broken this week. Behind closed doors, Trump settled a 25-million dollar lawsuit against Trump University, which had three cases of fraud brought against it. The lawsuit claimed that live seminars from esteemed speakers were actually shambolic performances from untrained people with no real estate experience, and that these events were actually used to pressure attendees into spending up to $35,000 on University programmes – programmes which would end without warning well before their year-long course finished. He denounced this in true Presidential style; ‘The ONLY bad thing about winning the Presidency is that I did not have the time to go through a long but winning trial on Trump U. Too bad!’
The fact that one of these moments made news while the other stayed relatively under the radar points to a very large problem with American media. Mike Pence was addressed respectfully by the cast of Broadway’s most successful show whilst Donald Trump closed a multi-million lawsuit alleging fraud against him, yet Pence has been somewhat martyred by many. The skill with which ‘Team Trump’ has been able to shift focus throughout the President-elect’s campaign and subsequent win might be commendable, if it weren’t so absolutely fucking horrifying – they’ve successfully made sure that every single negative story about Trump has been buried relatively quickly. And clearly this is a talent that The Donald has adopted for himself, becoming a social media drama queen to cover up his wrongdoings.
Let’s take a closer look at his tweets, shall we?
1. ‘Our wonderful future V.P. Mike Pence was harassed last night at the theater by the cast of Hamilton, cameras blazing.This should not happen!’ Trump has always been stellar at scapegoating – he’s demonized every minority and social group going, but what he’s really good at is riling people up. Pence wasn’t harassed at all; the cast of Hamilton decided that they would take their moment with him in the audience to speak to their profound concerns over his role in America’s next Presidency. Pence’s voting record is scary, to say the least, so why shouldn’t they have seized the opportunity to appeal to his better nature? Fighting fire with fire failed in this election, clearly, and so with humility and grace, Dixon instead chose to plead with him.
2. ‘The Theater must always be a safe and special place.The cast of Hamilton was very rude last night to a very good man, Mike Pence. Apologize!’ If I could physically write what disbelieving, hate-filled scoffs sounded like, I would. For so many people, the theatre is already a safe space, filled with liberal, like-minded, progressive people who value art, conscientiousness and self-expression above all. Theatre society has developed a rep for inclusivity, for soul-searching and for self-development, becoming a home for so many who struggled to find an outlet. So forgive us, Mr Pence, if we don’t feel like you, with your history of opposing the Affordable Care Act, voting for the Marriage Protection Amendment and destruction of Planned Parenthood funding, deserve a space within the theatre in which you can feel at home. The Hamilton cast here were far politer than I’d have been.
3. ‘The cast and producers of Hamilton, which I hear is highly overrated, should immediately apologize to Mike Pence for their terrible behavior’. The musical has so far won a Grammy, a Pulitzer Prize and eleven Tonys, among other things. Be quiet, you petulant child.
So, Mike Pence is gross, Donald Trump is grosser still, Trump University is a load of crap that the President-elect’s media team don’t want you to know about, and the Hamilton cast proves once again that they’re some of the best people working on Broadway. And that’s what you missed on Glee.
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Words by Jess Ennis