The Art of The Compromise
History has a habit of repeating its mistakes. When and how will we learn from our past? In the way of example, The Civil War and Revolutionary War were both waged in the name of freedom from oppression. In 1776, the American colonies fought against the oppression of Great Britain. In 1861, the South fought against what it perceived as Northern oppression. Both could have been averted. Not only can we learn from our mistakes, but we can also learn what our predeccors did right. When provided with a medium that both entertains and educates, the world may finally be able to learn from its past.
History is often rewritten, overlooked, and forgotten. Through the art of such geniuses as Quinton Tarantino and Lin-Emanuel Miranda, it can be presented in a more memorable forum where audiences can reflect and learn. They understand that people are much better equipped to comprehend the lessons of history when they can see, hear, and experience them in a musical or on film, verses simply reading about them in a history book. At least this is true for the masses who are not likely to read a history book for sheer pleasure.
Lin-Emanuel Miranda grew up listening to 90’s hip-hop and R&B. He admits that even today it influences his everyday life just as it did back then. The twenty-first century involves a lot of cultural intrigue as different elements from various genres somehow all flow together. He is a crazy talented song-writer and actor. He currently acts as the lead role in Broadway’s Hamilton, a play by the way which he wrote in its entirety. Through his magic he is able to bring history alive in a more than entertaining performance.
Tarantino, on the other hand of the same body, presents his unique magic in filmography. Tarantino has a history of taking on multiple roles in film production. Not only does he write his films in their entirety, he also serves as director, part time cameraman and editor. No one can direct, produce and write like Tarantino.
In a world where history appears destined to repeat its mistakes and forget its accomplishments, these two artists are a godsend to a generation in desperate need of good lessons.
In the above scene we see the destructive ignorance of General Sandy Smithers. He barks “I don’t know that n*gger. But I know he’s a n*gger & that’s all I need to know.” His unwarranted racism is ultimately what gets General Sandy Smithers killed. He was an angry old general from the Civil War who held onto his hatred of African Americans from when he fought for The Confederacy. He holds on to his hatred, unwilling to alter his predisposition. Similarly, he fails to appreciate the value of compromising as he dismisses Major Warren for no reason other than that of his skin color. Even if he rightfully perceives Major Warren as his enemy, he fails to recognize the age old history lesson of respecting and fearing one’s adversaries. It is a hard lesson, often repeated.
Lin-Manuel Miranda wanted to highlight one coming together of our founding fathers that seldom gets any attention. The Compromise of 1790 was significant, nonetheless, as it involved Hamilton and Jefferson, enemies on political fronts, coming together and compromising! These guys hated each other but recognized that by refusing to reach an agreement, they would get nowhere. Gridlock gets nothing accomplished. They needed each other and each other’s delegates. Hamilton agreed to provide the congressional votes to set a permanent location of the national capital on the Potomac River, which still stands today, while Jefferson and his party promised to provide support to assure Hamilton’s plan for assumption of the Revolutionary War debts of the states by the federal government. By setting aside their differences and reaching a compromise, our United States still stands today as the greatest country on earth.
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“The Room Where It Happens”- Song about the Compromise of 1790.
Not only has compromise been depicted through art, but the mere action of a compromise is an art in itself. No dispute is every fully solved unless some sort of agreement is reached. Violence only promotes violence, while civility promotes rational behavior. Tarantino and Lin-Emanuel Miranda, through their works, were attempting to exemplify how lessons from history can apply to modern day society.
It was not lost on these two great artists that in this present age many of our leaders disagree for the sear sake of disagreeing. The United States political landscape is a perfect example. The political debates are all about mudslinging with little attention paid to the real issues. Our politicians pride themselves on their inability to compromise. Since when did compromise become a dirty word. Our country was founded on compromise.
What worries Tarantino and Miranda, along with myself, is that the beauty of compromise has been lost. As time goes on, we may develop so much gridlock to differing views that we, as a nation,may never be able to progress.
“When you got skin in the game, you stay in the game
But you don’t get a win unless you play in the game
Oh, you get love for it, you get hate for it
You get nothing if you
Wait for it, wait for it, wait” — Room Where It Happens — Hamilton
America is a melting pot. It is a land of opportunity. It is our diversity that makes us a vibrant nation. Miranda and Tarantino bring this out in their works.
Miranda reminds the audience that although America started out predominately white, everyone is an immigrant. Alexander Hamilton was born in the West Indies and sought refuge in America at seventeen years old. In New York, he quickly rose into prestige through hard work and ambition. As a statesman, he worked hard to unite the country, fight oppression, and continue his legacy. It’s because of figures ,such as he, America is a land of opportunity for everyone who wishes to perservere. For this reason, Miranda wants to highlight America: This is a story about America then, told by America now, and he want to eliminate any distance between a contemporary audience and this story.
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The word “diverse” is an understatement when describing the cast of Hamilton. The rolls of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Marquis de Lafayette, Angelica Schuyler, Aaron Burr, and so many others are filled by African American actors. Although Miranda took an artistic license in casting in this manor, it is metaphorically accurate to represent America as the melting pot that it has become. He underlines how the most significant characters can be played by anyone of any race. By being inaccurate, he ironically creates a world that is much more authentic to today’s America. By widening the constraints of history, Miranda, like Tarantino, documents a land of true opportunity for anyone, no matter their station in life at the time of their birth.
How Tarantino breaks down racial boundaries may surprise you. He recognizes the power of the use of the “N” word in his films. In fact, he manages to use the N word so many times that it arguably lessons the shock factor (64 to be exact), while simultaneously positioning African Americans, especially Samuel L Jackson, as a symbol of intelligence, power, and cunning edginess. Tarantino despises how some words carry so much weight. “The minute any word has that much power, everyone on the planet should scream it [to diminish its power]” (Tarantino). He doesn’t want us to be caught up in little bits of dialogue, rather take in the whole picture and grasp what the overall goal of his narrative is trying to depict. The fact that a word can bring forth so much divisiveness taunts Tarantino to minimize its importance.
By according everyone an equal footing, it is so much easier to see the world in a brighter light. If our nation could label everyone as an “American” and do away with such labels as Black, Mexican, poor, rich, Caucasian, or numerous other terms, then we could finally overcome the diviseness of our nation. We will finally be able to show compassion to our fellow Americans rather than promote hate and violence for those we disagree. The nation will benefit greatly if we just learned to see the world in one color. Tarantino and Miranda want people to understand that people from different backgrounds should be viewed as equals and respected even if their beliefs are different from one’s own.
God bless the art of compromise, God bless our founding fathers being able to compromises to forge this great nation, and God bless Quinton Tarantino and Lin-Manuel Miranda for presenting the world with such great works that instill in us the importance of reflecting upon history. It is through them that we may, as a nation, move forward without the constraints of prejudism and injustice.