I wrote last Saturday about the Hamilton/Pence brouhaha. Since then I have had a chance to listen to and read other opinions on the issue. It hasn’t changed my basic opinion, but it has expanded my perspective.
The question was whether the cast of Hamilton was rude, did anything inappropriate, by making their appeal to vice president-elect Pence when he was at their performance. I still believe that they were not rude, and it was totally appropriate of them to make their appeal.
But the appeal was totally counterproductive. Rather than change any opinions, it highlighted the opposing views without actually making any lasting change or impact. It allowed people on both sides to “virtue signal” without doing anything of substance.
I came to my real epiphany in two steps. One was an article on Mike Rowe’s response to Hamilton. The other was a Facebook share where someone had asked a musician he liked to stop using her posts for a bully pulpit (my wording), and actually get back to the music and artistic endeavors that people came to her for in the first place. She, of course, screamed that she wasn’t about to be silenced.
Rowe’s response to Hamilton was that they would have achieved their goal better by listening to Shakespeare; Let the play do its thing to “prick the conscience of the king.” Once you start broadcasting your own feelings, it becomes personal instead of persuasive. Both sides have emotions and you just bring them up instead of making a persuasive sense.
Let me get back to the second epiphany point: the artist who won’t stop using the Bully Pulpit instead of just doing her art. Both she and the Hamilton cast made the same rhetorical mistake: Art is what gives them their public stance to be able to speak, but they forget that is their art, not their speaking, that is the persuasive point. The Hamilton cast did a one-fer, they might recover from the impact it has on their careers; The lady musician is deep sixing her career by driving her audience away with stridency instead of luring them to her persuasion with her real art.
And since I think I disagree with the lady artist in question, I am more than willing to let her go on sabotaging her own cause. I mean, the person who asked her to stop, as much as said she was driving him away, and it didn’t seem to phase her that she was doing the opposite of what her avowed goal was. This is the same situation with most of the Hollywood set that gets to making political pronouncements; they don’t understand their own rhetorical position.
This brings me back to another point, and another cultural struggle: the Hugos and the Sad Puppies. The Sad Puppies are saying the same thing Rowe is: if you want to persuade people, do it with a persuasive story, with persuasive art, not art that “virtue signals”. But people on the other side refuse to listen. So let them drive their own audience away, into the arms of their “foes”. They are not my foes, but I, and other Sad Puppies, apparently are theirs. They become less relevant by the day with their stridency.