HAMILBURGER: How Hamilton discourse and IN N OUT discourse are the same
Updated: Jul 8, 2020
I don’t get bored to the point of being sad about it as much as I did when I was younger but when I do it’s because someone on twitter thinks they said something original and edgy about Hamilton or IN N OUT Burger.
Twitter in particular but youth culture in general have this buzz/backlash cycle that is as cringe as it is predictable. Once something is well-loved by a vocal group of fans, social media’s luminaries race to create hashtags and memes about how problematic and/or overrated the something is.
IN N OUT is a great example of how this cycle becomes a bunch of smug self-satisfied idiots who are more-or-less talking past eachother. There’s a whole culture of videos of people joking oh so coolly about how they are not impressed with IN N OUT.
I’ve written about this before extemporaneously on social media but for posterity I’ll lay out this shpiel here: the vast majority of us who like IN N OUT and think it’s great are NOT under the delusion that it’s the “best burger”, we simply recognize that IN N OUT has DEALS.
If you wanna go to a steakhouse or spend 27 dollars a plate at Shake Shack, be my guest. Go right ahead. You can absolutely find a better patty or cut of beef than a double-double. What IS awesome and perhaps unique about IN N OUT is that you can stroll up like 6 dollars and some change and get very full of a fresh burger, fries and drink combo. And that’s…IT. Those of us that like IN N OUT but are still grounded in reality have NEVER said that IN N OUT is the BEST BURGER. We’re just saying it’s a very good deal for a 6 dollar combo and if you’re not a complete asshole snob, you know this is obviously true.
People like to create straw-man arguments when they can’t argue with the actual arguments that are being laid out. A less discussed reason for creating straw-man arguments that I think applies even more to today’s click-bait driven culture is just that the real arguments that people actually are making are boring in their uncontroversial obviousness.
Really, if you’re visiting from another major city and you have budget to eat wherever, IN N OUT will disappoint you. If you’re on a shoestring trip/from a smaller town/trying to save money as you travel, IN N OUT will delight you.
So not only is the real shpiel hard to argue with, the reality of the situation betrays a class dynamic that most people do not find fun to discuss. Yes folks it’s true, most of the edgelord videos online about how whack IN N OUT is are from preppy white boyz who were ready to pay hundreds for the right tourist experience and didn’t need a good deal for 6 dollars. They lack the working class experience to recognize what is good about a 6 dollar deal.
Hamilton has a sort of reverse of this class dynamic. Because the first people to see it were moneyed Manhattanites, the initial audience was not only very monied but very white. The nature of the topic matter, expensiveness and elusiveness of tickets amplified it even more. Due to these dynamics it quickly became fashionable among hipster and online circles to bash everyone that liked it as white or affluent, out of touch etc. I think this especially happened because a lot of the rich Broadway attending whites talked about it as if it was the first smart/non-gangsta piece of rap ever presented/that they had ever seen/recognized. As someone who focused on rap while studying poetry in college, I know the weird feeling of having people both dig what I was doing while also betraying their ignorance to the genre as they explain how there's never been anything like it...
These days, I listen to a lot of rap and a whole lot of indie rap. Yes I can find spitters that could outshine the rappers on Hamilton. Yes I can find more historically accurate rap. Anyone stating that this is the greatest rap whatever of all time are obviously wrong….but almost no one is saying that. It’s pretty clever, often brilliant and very fun. The songs are as tuneful as they are barsy. It’s catchy, it uses archetypes and emotional storytelling beats effectively. It’s as corny and cringey as most of the better Disney centerpieces, which for me is acceptably so.
I don’t hear anyone saying it’s perfect. It think smarter fans worth listening to just say that it is really successful within the paradigm from which it springs, which is musical theater. A lot of criticism is about how it doesn’t focus on slavery and imperialism more but I feel like these topics are intelligently if briefly addressed throughout the Revolutionary War era story. It's almost like the people making those critiques aren't paying attention when King George or John Laurens are on stage. You’re going to hear a lot of opinions from cool people about how it’s not only overrated, not only worthless but that it is damaging in its jingoistic imperialism, that it’s apologia for the Obama-era, and a lot of other countercultural Brooklynite buzznarratives about it and that’s fine. That’s how they make money, making clickbait by trying to ruin shit the hated normies enjoy. They’re probably right about it being overrated, I would suggest that it being overrated doesn’t mean that it’s not good- there’s a reason it had all the hype it had in the first place. Let the hipsters heckle; I just want to humbly suggest that you not let that stop you from enjoying it if a rappy musical politics adventure sounds at all appealing to you.
Tristan "Tanjint Wiggy" Acker is a staff writer for Zus Entertainment, a Jooseboxx and Untapped Hip-Hop contributor, and member of the Inland Empire, California based nerdculture hip-hop group the West Coast Avengers