Well, shall we try this again? I give you a mini-essay, then you get the numbers. Capiche?
Over the weekend, there was something of a kerfuffle when incoming Vice President Mike Pence attended a performance of Hamilton. At the end of the show, a cast member delivered an address directly to Mr. Pence, and as a result, some people got upset. There was some booing, some angry tweeting, and other things that don’t actually help anybody, but the biggest irony to me seems to be Pence himself wasn’t offended by anything that happened to him. All manner of other people seem to be offended on his behalf.
Pence probably gave the correct answer. Pence is a public figure, and he can’t exactly go places anonymously at the moment. The Secret Service goes with him wherever he goes near as I can make out. Hamilton tickets are hard enough to get as it is, so the simple fact he had some tickets was probably noteworthy.
But since I don’t aim to get political here, I won’t be addressing this specific controversy or the specific politics behind it. What I see online is the dueling ideas: should the cast have said anything? On the one hand, there’s the idea of freedom of speech and expression, and the arts are always a place for outspokenness in any vibrant and healthy democracy with all the rights and freedoms accorded therein. On the other hand, don’t public figures like Pence deserve to just have a quiet night out with their families, especially when you pay the sort of prices you need to in order to even see Hamilton?
Well, actually, the first part is the stronger claim. A respectful statement is a good way to potentially open a dialogue, and public figures in the political field are answerable to the public. Artists particularly need to push the envelope. Artistic endeavors are the ones that challenge who we are as people, that say something about the human condition. Sometimes it’s there to say, “Hey, we can do better.” Sometimes it’s there to say, “This is what the artist feels is important.” We shouldn’t be shutting up anybody’s voices, and quite frankly, artists are almost be default outspoken, particularly in the theater. Maybe knowing that before stepping out somewhere is good. Broadway isn’t the movie theater. The actors can talk back.
And with that in mind, here’s the box office report.
- Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them $75 million
- Doctor Strange $17.7 million
- Trolls $17.5 million
- Arrival $11.8 million
- Almost Christmas $7 million