I would like to first submit a formal apology to anyone who read the original draft of this post and came away from it feeling moderately discouraged. My intention is always to uplift your mindset, and if you read something I wrote here and did not laugh or learn something (or both), then this sincere and heartfelt apology is for you.
Yesterday I got to go see In The Heights, which is one of my favorite musicals, in Korean with my host siblings and host mom. It was an amazing show (I mean, the music is phenomenal, so there is no way it could possibly be anything less than stellar). However, I must say that it was difficult to watch the show when I could not understand what everyone was saying, even though I have the lyrics to every song in the original version memorized. I also found that I got some different things out of the performance than I did when I first saw the show in the United States. I expected to feel more in tune with the girl who dropped out of Stanford, since I am nearing the point in my life where I will enter into college. However, I felt myself identifying with the premise of the overall show. I cannot say this with complete confidence, since I am not and never will be Lin- Manuel Miranda, but I will just go out on a limb and say that the whole thing is a celebration of what it is like to be different and how that changes what it means to be alive, a celebration of culture in the United States of America (and honestly anywhere else as well).
That being said, my experience in Korea has made me think more about cultural appropriation than I ever have in my life. The idea that taking a concept out of the original situation can result in a loss of significance was something that became even more clear to me after seeing the show. I realized that most of the people surrounding me in the audience might have been missing the point, since the parts of Latin American culture that were being presented on the stage were not as accurate as the portrayals could have been. I guess that it is just becoming a lot clearer to me that when you see something without truly understanding the cultural context of it, you are not getting an accurate view of whatever that thing is supposed to be in its purest form.
To make a long story exceedingly short, I fell in love with the play all over again, and anything that I disliked will promptly be forgotten and replaced with the pure excitement I felt at getting to see a Broadway Show in Korea at all!!!! Yayay!
My heart and love goes out to all of you, especially those who were affected by any of the terrible awful things that have been happening in the world lately. I stand with all of you.
Everyday Acts of Activism