I salute Steven Van Zandt for his restraint, ethics, and compassion in his opinion on today’s controversy. (Not the President-Elect settling a class-action fraud suit for $25 million, the shiny distraction.) I would salute him further for his outspokenness, but Steven has saluted himself for that.
Mike Pence attended the musical Hamilton last night; he was roundly booed, and one of the actors addressed him directly during the curtain call. I do not know whether the short speech was in specific reference to legislation Mike Pence has shepherded and signed legalizing discrimination against homosexuals, nor am I aware if the actor mentioned Governor Pence’s advocacy of using government funds on conversion therapy.*
The theater, according to people who do not work in theater, is a sacred space. It is where Art is made, and capitalized, and must rise above our petty preoccupations; I agree with Steven Van Zandt: mixing politics and Hamilton was a mistake.
What happened last night was bullying, for a certain** definition of the word, and it has no place on the stage. The appropriate response would have been to perform the show as written, then call a bunch of your celebrity buddies, and record a terrible protest song. That’s how we do things in Jersey.
Steven Van Zandt–who has been known as both Little Steven and Miami Steve, which is ironic seeing as how both the little guy and your typical Miami resident will soon be getting fucked by the man he’s defending–believes that the actors should have asked for a meeting with Pence, so that they could say things privately about things he’s done publicly. Van Zandt would also be fine with a letter, but not an open one printed in the paper (bullying); a disapproving look, but not a head shake (also bullying); or giving Mike Pence a weak handshake. (Obviously, refusing to shake the Veep’s hand would be bullying of the lowest variety.)
Would Martin Luther King have appreciated what you did, Hamilton, boldly declaring yourself to be a human being in front of a powerful man who did not agree? Don’t you recall how Christ was respectful to the money changers, waiting until they were all in private to bring up his disagreements? Just because a man builds his career on the persecution of minorities doesn’t give them the right to ask him to stop. Lotta balls you got on you, Hamilton.
Unlike his solo albums, Steven Van Zandt’s words should be listened to. Art must be for everyone, as opposed to civil rights, which are for the people Mike Pence says can have them. Huzzah, Little Steven: I doff my bandana to you.
*Forced therapy, actually. Your parents could sign you up for it if they found your porn stash was not straight porn, which the Lord dislikes but will forgive, or gay porn, which the Lord detests. Large men would come into your bedroom real early in the morning and snatch you up and bring you somewhere. If they couldn’t talk the gay out of you, they’d hook you up to a car battery and burn it out of you. Tax money would pay for it, and if you can reconcile supporting this and the Hyde Amendment simultaneously, then you’re a better man than I, Gunga Din.