Daily Archives: July 10, 2021

IN THE HEIGHTS — OF INANITY

Four years ago, Lin-Manuel Miranda portrayed Salman Rushdie, opposite F.Murray Abraham as Ayatollah Khomeini, in the hilarious Curb Your Enthusiasm “Fatwa!” episode.

Sometimes life imitates art. The real Rushdie apologized in a futile effort to evade a death sentence. Last month, the real Miranda apologized to evade a cancellation decree.

Salman Rushdie’s trouble arose from the publication of The Satanic Verses. Miranda’s arose from the broadcast of In the Heights, the movie version of the stage musical of the same name.

In the Heights follows a group of residents of Washington Heights, a neighborhood in Upper Manhattan, as they pursue their individual dreams. The story is uplifting, even patriotic. The central character, Usnavi, dreams of returning to the Dominican Republic to revive his late father’s bodega. But ultimately he chooses to remain in Washington Heights and remodel his local bodega there. His decision is based on the realization that his true home is America.

The highly successful stage musical established Miranda’s reputation, winning Tony Awards in 2008 for Best Musical, Original Score, Choreography, and Orchestrations. But the world changed between 2008 and 2021. When the movie version was released, Miranda was immediately condemned for “colorism;” namely, favoring light-skinned Hispanics over darker-skinned ones for the leading roles.

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