The recent “Hamilton” incident with Mike Pence is an opportunity to talk about ideological diversity, a subject we often address on this site. I usually focus on higher education but I also worked in the arts for years, which I’ll expand on at the bottom of this post.
We’ve often pointed out the lack of ideological diversity in higher education but believe it or not, it’s actually worse in the arts industry.
Larry O’Connor of Hot Air used to work in professional theatre and wrote this:
And this is why I was a closeted conservative when I worked on Broadway
When the cast of Hamilton chose to thrust their play (and the professional theatre industry) into the national political conversation Friday night, it was inevitable that I would write the post you are about to read.
Because for over 15 years I worked in the theatre business and know first hand what it’s like to hold conservative views while surrounded by liberal activists bent on using their profile and platform to push their ideas and shame those who might disagree.
I worked in New York and Los Angeles with the Shubert Organization and as an independent general manager and producer before leaving that industry behind and beginning a new career in the new media and talk radio. I began writing at Andrew Breitbart’s Big Hollywood website under the pseudonym “Stage Right” and after writing about politics and culture for nearly a year I revealed my true identity in this post.
That was seven years ago.
So here we are. My old industry making headlines for a blatantly political gesture designed not just to shame Vice-President-elect Pence but to call-out all of us who might have had the audacity to hope Hillary Clinton not be our 45th President.
Oh, the actors might rush to say that “Republicans are all welcome” to their play. But creative people in a medium as visual and impactful as theatre know very well the net results of this political grandstanding.
Larry is exactly right and although I never worked on Broadway he and I have two things in common. We’re both conservatives who worked in the arts and we both got our start in professional blogging at Breitbart’s Big Hollywood.
I’m blogging full time now but I was still working in the arts when I joined Legal Insurrection. I had an administrative desk job during the day and would write here at night.
At the arts organizations where I worked, the political spectrum among employees ran from rank and file Democrats to people who make Bernie Sanders sound reasonable.
In the run-up to the 2008 election, a female co-worker told me she couldn’t stand John McCain because he was such a “far right conservative.” That’s how many people in the arts think.
People would often voice their political opinions, loudly bashing all those awful, stupid conservatives completely blind to the fact that one might be sitting among them.
Those who disagreed tended to keep their mouths shut if they wanted to keep their jobs. People may pay lip service to the idea that anyone is welcome regardless of politics but the reality is that they’ll find a way to get rid of you if they want to.
There are some people in Hollywood who are openly right leaning. Clint Eastwood, David Mamet, Jon Voight and Gary Sinise come to mind, but those are people with star power. A mid-level staffer at a non-profit arts organization has no such advantage.
The cast of Hamilton is certainly entitled to free speech but I’ll leave you with this thought from Larry O’Connor:
My former colleagues in the theatre industry claim they want to foster discussion and they hope for a dialogue about these issues, but they are being disingenuous, at best. They don’t want a dialogue, they want a monologue.
That’s what we saw on Friday night from the stage on 46th street. A monologue. A speech. A lecture. It was patronizing and it was condescending and there was no room for rebuttal.
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