What up, I’m Simone, I’m 19 years old, and I have never listened to Hamilton. Yeah, I said it. I have never, nor will ever, see or listen to Hamilton and for that I remain unapologetic. It is my professional opinion as an expert witness of the court that Hamilton the musical cannot hold a straw to Barbie as the Princess and the Pauper, otherwise known as the greatest musical of all time. I will begin by assuring you of my qualifications as an authority on musical theater: I played Hyena #3 in a Jewish Community Center’s production in The Lion King, my dog is named Pippin, and my mom was Lucy in a late 70’s Fox Lane High School production of “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.” I am also Barbra Streisand’s biggest fan. With my qualifications out of the way, I am here to once and for all denounce Hamilton’s importance and prominence in contemporary society: as long as Barbie as the Princess and the Pauper exists, Hamilton deserves no recognition in the musical theater world.
For those unfamiliar, Barbie as The Princess and the Pauper is part of the Barbie Film Collection, a series beginning back in 1987. This Barbie® film was the first of many Barbie musicals to come and it is the first Barbie Princess movie. Already, the two major milestones that this movie has accomplished give it a solid lead over Hamilton’s clearly blasé impact in contemporary history. In addition, it includes the incredibly talented voices of Martin Short, Julie Stevens, Melissa Lyons, Alessandro Juliani (who we all know as L from the hit anime Death Note), and more. I am not sure who the actors are in Hamilton, but we can all agree that no one beats Canada’s great Martin Short. Barbie as the Princess and the Pauper also boasts a formidable quality of animation, one rivaling that of Toy Story 1. Hamilton is live action, which impedes on its ability to portray scenes creatively. It just cannot compete on the same level as Barbie as the Princess and the Pauper which can easily and effectively display realistic scenery and settings.
Above all, however, Barbie as the Princess and the Pauper showcases a progressive feminist agenda that has inspired young girls everywhere. The two main characters, Anneliese and Erika, are both independent young women who pursue their dreams in a male dominated society and work together to succeed against all odds. Anneliese rejects the traditional ideals of matrimony in favor of studying science and reading books. Erika’s skilled dressmaking and sugar sweet voice proves that women are capable of being multi-talented and can go far in any career they so choose, whether or not higher education is involved. Erika’s story also rewrites the antiquated notion that one needs to be educated in a school setting in order to have an occupation. This inspiring example of two women helping each other to live their best lives not only sets an example for girls everywhere, but the movie also passes the Bechdel test with flying colors, with the girls confiding in each other about their lives and about each other’s dreams and passions from the very beginning of the movie in the hit song “A Girl Like You,” and even going as far as devising an elaborate plan to save each other. At the end of the movie (SPOILER ALERT), Erika refuses an offer of marriage from Prince Dominick and goes off on her own to sing for a living. As I have previously said, I do not know a lot about Hamilton, but I did do some research into whether it is as inspiring to a young generation of women as Barbie as the Princess and the Pauper. As it turns out, the soundtrack fails the Bechdel test, meaning when the women in it talk to each other, they only speak of things relating to men. There is some dispute in the soundtrack around three lines where it could be debated that the Schuyler sisters are talking about the American Revolution; however, if people have to focus fanatically on a few lines of one single song to determine if the women are in fact talking about something other than men, then the writers are not doing a good enough job of illustrating women in a way unrelated to men. While the Bechdel test is not the be-all end-all test of whether a piece of theater or film is worthy of praise, it does send a thinly veiled message to young listeners and viewers.
I would rather hear two little girls sing about their dreams and passions, like in “A Girl Like You,” than hear whatever number of songs in Hamilton centered around men in power and women not making choices for themselves. So, love her or hate her, Barbie’s message to “be who you want to be” has been monumental in its effect on young girls everywhere. Just read these bona fide YouTube comments on the movie Barbie as the Princess and the Pauper: “Who else is watching this in 2017 and crying tears of joy of their awesome childhood????” –Mary Lisa, “I’m forcing myself to watch this for memories but I just realized Julian is fricken L from death note I KNEW IT HAHAHAHAHAHAHA” – magicalamathyst and how could I leave this out from Kaleb Whiteface: “CCHTBTBCBBCBFFBHGGG.” I will be the first to admit that it is high time we pour one out for Barbie as the Princess and the Pauper.