As Lin-Manuel Miranda deals with the consequences of stardom, it’s becoming difficult for him to be stoic in the face of social media backlash.
‘Hamilton‘ took Lin-Manuel Miranda to new levels of acclaim and established him as one of the best creative geniuses in the world. However, with such immense fame, comes great accountability. The artist has received heavy criticism on social media because of the lack of representation in his film ‘In the Heights’. As a result, Lin-Manuel Miranda has found it difficult to deal with the mountains of blame aimed at him.
- Criticism against Lin-Manuel Miranda
- Lin-Manuel Miranda dealing with online feedback
The expectation from Hollywood to equally and fairly represent erstwhile marginalized races and ethnicities is higher than ever. Social media has enabled minority groups to be emphatic in voicing their concerns about representation. This has left little margin of error for creators.
Any slip up or neglect, minute or consequential, can lead to the issue blowing up on the internet. The backlash can be brutal even against those who have erstwhile displayed political consciousness in their art.
Something similar happened to Lin-Manuel Miranda with his musical drama ‘In the Heights’. The story is adapted from the stage and follows the journey of Latino and Hispanic characters based in Washington Heights of Upper Manhattan. When the film came out, major blowback on social media referred to the film’s casting.
Audiences accused the film of preferring “white-passing and light-skinned” Latino cast over dark-skinned Afro-Latino faces, which were grossly under-represented in the film. Initially, Lin-Manuel Miranda had refused to offer comments to the media. However, after social media criticism reached excessive ‘heights’, the singer-actor offered an apologetic statement on Twitter.
A PLEDGE TO DO BETTER
Miranda acknowledged the “hurt and frustration over colourism” which made the Afro-Latino community feel “unseen”. He admitted that “in trying to paint a mosaic of (Latino) community”, his crew and he “fell short”. In the end, he expressed he was “truly sorry” and pledged to learn from the feedback, be accountable for his faults, and “do better” in “honouring” diversity for his subsequent projects.
Miranda did well by accepting the shortcomings in terms of Latino diversity in ‘In the Heights’. He appeared genuinely dismayed at the neglectful casting on the film. He also realized that it was better to pursue accountability rather than ghosting the issue, given his stature in the industry as someone who has always claimed to be sensitive to representation issues.
Despite the mature handling of the entire social media fiasco of ‘In the Heights’, Lin-Manuel Miranda was adversely affected by the online “voices”, which became “loud” in his head. During the Edinburgh TV Festival, Miranda opened up about this,
“When you’re an artist who puts things into the world, you know, you’re always having to balance how much you let in in terms of feedback and how you let it affect you. And you know, one loud negative voice can be a day-ruiner. And that’s anybody who interacts on social media, ever. I think that’s not unique to me”.
It is clear that artists like Miranda have immense creative and political responsibilities on their shoulders. While feedback on social media and elsewhere is essential, it can take a heavy toll on their mental health. The fact that netizens often ignore this is unfortunate.
Despite this, Miranda doesn’t fail to highlight the merits of social media. He is grateful that the “distance” between an artist and their audience is thinning. He finds this “terribly exciting”.
Lin-Manuel Miranda also features in the show ‘His Dark Materials‘, which unlike, ‘In the Heights’ is much “richer” in his own words. The actor has learnt his diversity lesson the hard way, despite being more conscious of the concern than countless other people of his stature in the industry.
What do you think about the ‘In the Heights’ diversity issue? Do you think Lin-Manuel Miranda’s short-sightedness speaks for a bigger issue in the industry? Comment below!