I’m a Helpless Cause – Ham4School 2016

Disclaimer: I apologize in advance for excessive use of puns and Hamilton quotes to anyone whom it may pain or concern.

Yup, that’s basically me with Hamilton right now. I really don’t know how to say no to it, so you could pretty much call me helpless. I’m full-out, non-stop with everything to do with it, and so I was not going to throw away my shot at spending class-time analysing and discussing Hamilton with fellow classmates who are also blown away by this outstanding creation! Then the opportunity to use the very beauty of the musical and its quotes through imagery (in memes) and I am completely, wait for it,  satisfied. Oh right, memes, that’s what this post is supposed to be about, not just my dearest Hamilton, although that would probably be enough for me to fill a blog post with.

Any ways, let’s get right into it!

I made a few memes to show some of the different messages that stood out to me in Hamilton and how they relate to some of the current events in our world as well as the big ideas.  Here is one of them.

I created this one based on how different these two scenarios are regarding the topic of immigrants and foreign politicians. I think it particularly embodies the big idea of how disparities in power alter the balance of relationships in societies specifcally. This is shown in how Hamilton was in power, and that was it, he was in power, and now Trump believes that people born outside of his own home physical landmass shouldn’t have the right to have that power there. Now it is important to note that Trump is a fairly extreme case on the spectrum, but he is certainly not the only one who disagrees with the entry of immigrants in general in to the United States of America. As the issue of Syrian immigrant displacement grows and carries on many people in western countries feel uncomfortable or even fearful of the possibility of a large number of them, or even any, coming to their homes. Most fear a certain risk in who exactly is coming into the country but needless to say it wasn’t so much of an issue back in Hamilton’s time when virtually everyone involved in the newly founded societies was an immigrant in one way or another. This is an example of how “Collective identity is constructed and can change over time.” (another big idea). It’s definitely interesting to consider this and how all of the leaders didn’t necessarily consider themselves immigrants then, nor do they now, but there are and were countless people entering the nation for different reasons all the time. Likewise it’s interesting to look at the public opinion on these events in the respective times.

The next couple memes were a little more personally inspired and special to me as they reflect and issue that I am a little more directly related to.

This first one originated from a brief discussion we had in class about the difference between the meanings of “Work” and “Werk”. In conclusion it was generally determined that the word and meaning of “werk” could be attributed to the usage of “work” in the song The Schuyler Sisters in Hamilton. The reasoning behind this was that the consensus meaning of “werk” was that it is more of an adjective to describe someone who is doing a really great job at something that could be relatable, and can also be used in a somewhat sarcastic or fun-loving way. For example, it could be used to describe someone who is really rocking a unique outift, like “Werk it girl!” Also often used in a longer, more drawn out format, ie. “Weeerk!” as was found difficult to describe without the presenting of it as such.

Any ways, back to the meme. I do agree that in this song of the musical Angelica Schuyler is really showing how she can be just as strong of a presence in society and in equal in force to the men and here Eliza and Peggy are cheering her on for it. For them she is really showing how women can “werk it” just like the guys and don’t just assume them to go along with the status quo or not to be aware of what is going on in society. We also did mention in class how in the actual script of the musical it is written rather as “work”, nonetheless I feel it suits this situation more accurately, at least for a meme, to use the above style. As Eliza and Peggy are supporting Angelica in this segment I think it is also something that women today could stand behind and cheer as we are still not looked upon as equals to men on the daily basis and for what we can really achieve. Additionally this could be a relatable reaction for some women watching say for example Emma Watson make her remarkable speech about women’s rights at the UN in support of her HeForSHe campaign. It could also be used in this context synonymous with “You killed it!” or “Great job!” Kind of like “Awesome. Wow.” haha(Hamilton reference) not quite. This meme represents the big ideas “Emerging ideas and ideologies profoundly influence societies and events.” as well as “Disparities in power alter the balance of relationships between individuals and societies.” Thememe represents the former in the idea of feminism both then and now and women’s rights, and the latter in how women have opportunities to use their abilities in the world. This was an issue in the 1700s and other than a few technical improvements such as the right to vote many commonplace interactions are still impacted by prejudice and sexism.

Which is largely what my next meme is about.

Again, as you can see, this is from the song The Schuyler Sisters and I think it really shows how women can be treated in society. Even down to the smallest of gestures or comments by people that really don’t seem to mean much but give a vague and far-more-often-than-not inaccurate description of a woman. These are really truly insulting for the woman to whom it is aimed and also to women as a whole society. The recent rise in public pressure against these societal ‘habits’ is what we know as the “emerging idea” of feminism, and as we can see from this song, sparks were starting fly for this flame even way back in the 1700s at the very beginning of North American Western colonization. One of the biggest current storylines that is an issue on the table, is the gender pay gap. This issue is  becoming so prominent hat groups such as the United States women’s soccer team have recently gotten very involved. Additionally campaigns such as the HeForShe campaign and feminism in general are garnering more and more attention and bringing new light to the opinions around women being capable in the workplace and as strong as men in society. I think that the internet and social media have especially helped this rise where it couldn’t have before as it has given women a stronger voice and more power to present themselves and their side of the story. This is a perfect  example of how “Disparities in power alter the balance of relationships between individuals and between societies.”

I created another meme that can be found on my Twitter page but I chose not to include here as I was just getting the hang of it with that one and I think these embody the ideas a little more.

Overall I think this was a very useful and productive way of looking at the messages in Hamilton and applying them to events today in a way that is very relevant to our society now. Memes! I wasn’t very experienced myself with the meme and internet culture that I had to explore a  little for this and so even though it may seem a little weird this was actually a  very useful area to learn about. I think it’s actually important that we are aware of this form of communication in this day and age because as we discussed, it is how many of us communicate, and so understanding this is obviously very important. Further, as the age category that utilizes this form of expression grows it will become more and more prominent in culture.

Needless to say I also thoroughly enjoyed this activity because, well, Hamilton! So for now, though I’m sure you’ll be back to memes soon, I myself need to take a break for a little bit. Haha who am I kidding this is an absolutely amazing current event in itself and I don’t know how to say not to it! Well I hope you enjoyed my memes, I’ll see you on the other side of the war!

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