Family-friendly TV advocacy group urges Disney+ to remove expletive from 'Hamilton' musical

by Diana Chandler, posted Friday, June 26, 2020 (17 days ago)

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story was updated after the July 3 opening of "Hamilton" on Disney+.

LOS ANGELES (BP) -- The Parents Television Council (PTC) is urging Disney+ to remove the "F-word" from the Broadway musical "Hamilton" debuting July 3 on the streaming platform.

The Parents Television Council (PTC) is urging Disney+ to remove the "F-word" from the Broadway musical "Hamilton" debuting July 3 on the streaming platform.
Photo courtesy of Disney+ Media Relations
Disney and Hamilton writer and star Lin-Manuel Miranda have already removed two occurrences of the word from the musical to achieve a Motion Picture Association (MPA) PG-13 rating. One still remains.

"We're shocked that a company bearing the name of Walt Disney would distribute across a platform named Disney+ ... an F-word in one of their programs," PTC President Tim Winter told Baptist Press. "It shocks the conscience. But sadly, it is not so shocking when we see what some in Hollywood are willing to do."

Miranda, a father of two boys under the age of 5, told the New York Times he doesn't think muting "an F-bomb here or there to make our rating" deprives "anyone of anything."

The language is muted in the songs "Yorktown (The World Turned Upside Down)," and "Washington On Your Side," but is retained in "Say No To This."

Winter celebrates the elimination of two of the expressions in the musical, but told Baptist Press "what we must condemn is the thinking behind leaving one incidence of one of the harshest profanities in the English language. Why would they leave one in there?"

The MPA's standard of allowing one harsh profanity in PG-13 films is simply wrongheaded, Winter believes.

"In my 61 years on this planet, I have never ever met a family who said to their children, 'You can use the F-word once, but you can't use it two or more times. I've never heard that. That is the standard that the Motion Picture Association has set for PG-13. And how upside-down is that?" Winter posed. "We don't support even one instance of the F-word in a show that's rated PG-13."

Winter believes Disney has permission to remove all uses of the word from the show, but chose to retain one. "Even with the stated permission from the program's creator to remove them, Disney is choosing to keep an F-bomb in the film."

Disney did not respond to Baptist Press' request for comment, but ComicBook.com quoted a Disney spokesperson June 22 as saying, "In order to share Hamilton with the broadest audience possible, two non-material edits were made to the film in collaboration with the show's creators to achieve a PG-13 rating."

Two versions of the Hamilton soundtrack are available on Apple i-tunes, with one retaining and the other removing all uses of profanity.

"Isn't it interesting that if you go to the Apple i-tunes store to buy the soundtrack of Hamilton," Winter said, "there are two versions, one with the explicit lyrics and one where it's been cleaned up. You have your choice.

"That expands the marketplace for those who don't want to use such language, who don't want to hear such language, and who don't want their family members to hear such language," Winter said. If Disney is interested in expanding its market, he said, it should offer a clean version of Hamilton.

Winter accused Disney of lobbying Congress to block a legislative update to the 2005 Family Movie Act that would allow explicitly the use of content filtering technology on streaming platforms. The act, passed before streaming was available, gives parents permission to use filtering technology on DVD players to skip over offensive content when playing DVDs.

He encouraged concerned parents to be agents of change, to tell their congressional representatives to amend the Family Movie Act to allow filtering technology on streaming platforms, and to tell Disney not to stream profanity as family-friendly content.

"Parents need to be aware that there is content in there that might violate their sensibilities," Winter said. "If Disney insists on leaving the word in there, then maybe they would alert parents to" the time code when the profanity occurs, allowing parents to mute their devices.

Simply not watching the movie, he said, is "the ultimate that a parent can do."

The Disney broadcast is the filming of an actual performance of the Broadway musical loosely based on the life of American statesman Alexander Hamilton. Disney is promoting the show as "a musical that has had a profound impact on culture, politics, and education. Filmed at The Richard Rodgers Theatre on Broadway in June of 2016, the film transports its audience into the world of the Broadway show in a uniquely intimate way."

Diana Chandler is Baptist Press' general assignment writer/editor.
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