The longstanding question of how to make history more interesting may have been answered with the popularity of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical “Hamilton.” Since the musical’s debut on August 6, 2015, a surge in searches for “Hamilton” have been accompanied by a corresponding surge in searches for the historical figure at the musical’s center, United States founding father Alexander Hamilton. There is only one instance in the last year and a half, in late November 2016, in which the two trends did not mirror each other. This divergence most likely corresponds with the cast’s decision to urge then Vice-President Mike Pence to create a more inclusive America.
Outside of its ability to spark an interest in American history, “Hamilton” has had profound cultural impact, even influencing government decisions. It has been widely speculated the musical’s popularity led the United States Treasury, the department which Hamilton led, to reverse their decision to replace Hamilton with a woman on the $10 bill. The treasury department announced they would instead replace Andrew Jackson’s image with one of Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill. The interest in Alexander Hamilton’s life, and the history surrounding it, has led to tourists flocking to sites associated with his life. According to Playbill, visits to Hamilton’s grave have gone up 70% since the musical’s debut.
In addition to the show’s original New York production, the show is now being staged in Chicago. The show will tour the United States throughout 2017 and 2018 and will open on London’s West End in November 2017. Tickets and more information on the show can be found at the show’s official website.
The inauguration of Donald J. Trump as the 45th President of the United States, along with comments made by President Trump’s close advisors, have led to an increase in searches for George Orwell’s 1949 novel, “Nineteen Eighty-Four.” Google Trends reported on January 27 that these searches reached an all time high.
Search interest in the book 1984 reached its highest ever on Google this past week pic.twitter.com/LlPfkAmYIf
— GoogleTrends (@GoogleTrends) January 27, 2017
Orwell’s novel, written as a criticism of Stalin’s Soviet Union, portrays a future dystopian society in which all opposition is repressed and the government dictates what its citizens think, criticizing all forms of freedom of expression. The government is led by “Big Brother” a dictator who leads with a strong cult of personality. While the Trump administration hasn’t committed the atrocities executed by Stalin, this novel has taken on a new significance for many because of the administration’s seeming attempts to suppress media and distort facts.
Two statements by Trump officials have drawn the most ire. The first of these statements was made by Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway to NBC’s Chuck Todd on Meet the Press on Sunday January 22. Conway said that Press Secretary Sean Spicer reported “alternative facts” on the size of Trump’s inauguration crowd. The second of these comments was made by the President’s chief strategist Steve Bannon. Bannon said that the media needed to “keep its mouth shut.”