Mike Rowe is back once again to drop some folksy wisdom on us, and as he's demonstrated since he first arrived on the scene, it's the best kind of wisdom in this day and age.
This time, Rowe addressed the Broadway event that has people at each other's throats.
As you've likely heard, the cast of "Hamilton" gathered on stage to give Vice President-elect Mike Pence a very public message. Some took it as an olive branch, while others saw it as a slap in the face.
Rowe, who has history as a thespian, had some insight to give on the whole matter — not just to the cast of the play but also to President-elect Donald Trump, who also responded to the dustup.
"THE PLAY IS THE THING!" begins Rowe, right before posting a couple lines from "Hamlet." “I'll have grounds more relative than this — the play's the thing. Wherein I'll catch the conscience of the King.”
As usual, Mike posts the question asked of him before responding.
Mike - Please pardon my “white privilege,” but I’m pissed. I was at The Richard Rogers theater Friday night in NY. I thought the show was fantastic. I thought the cast was amazing. How though, can anyone justify their unsolicited comments to Mr. Pence during the curtain call? I didn’t pay (exorbitantly, by the way,) to hear someone’s personal opinion spouted from the stage. Just curious on your take, as a self-proclaimed former thespian.
Rowe responded with the refreshing realism he's known for:
I think the cast of Hamilton shared their feelings publicly, because it felt really good to do so. Unfortunately, I think their comments diminished the impact of an excellent show, and probably accomplished the exact opposite of the playwright’s intent.
He discussed how GrubHub CEO Matt Malone and NFL quarterback Colin Kapernick both did something similar — expressing their opinion. Both let their personal feelings become known to the detriment to their business, but he went on to say that the cast of "Hamilton" had no such need to do so.
"In my opinion, that was a mistake," writes Rowe. "Because unlike athletes and CEO’s and protesters and millions of other concerned Americans with similar feelings, the cast of Hamilton didn’t have to deliver a lecture in order to make their point. Because the cast of Hamilton has at their disposal, a far more persuasive device. They have a play."
Rowe explained why the play was such an advantageous tool over other forms of expressing opinion and how the cast of "Hamilton" failed to utilize it to bring people together, and only make it less by making it partisan:
Hamilton is already a love letter to diversity. It's a very persuasive homage to inclusiveness, individuality, and many other things that make America a place worth immigrating to. The play delivers that message to everyone - including people who may have voted for Trump and Pence. But the cast — speaking out as they did — failed to make the play more persuasive; they simply made it more personal. More partisan. Smaller. The cast forgot that the play is the thing! By sharing their personal feelings with paying customers, they turned a play into a polemic. And polemics are the most unpersuasive things of all.
Mike Rowe assured his readers that the First Amendment is still important but reminded them that free speech doesn't have to be accepted.
"Just remember, the first amendment does not include the right to be agreed with, or the right to be understood, or the right to express your feelings without consequences," Rowe reminds us. "Last I checked, Grub Hub stock is down over 10%. And the NFL ratings are down 14%."
Before parting, Rowe had a comment about Trump's response as well:
As for Trump’s return tweet, I think he’s also mistaken. The theater should not be a “safe place for everyone.” If you want a safe place, go to Yale. Or Rutgers. Or Brown. Whatever else our universities are becoming, our theaters should continue to be a place that challenges us. A place that makes us think. A place that makes us occasionally uncomfortable. That’s what a good play can do. Assuming of course, the actors can stick to the script, and let the play speak for itself.
Check out Rowe's full Facebook post: