Wednesday, 7 April 2021

you’ve got to be carefully taught

Based on a Pulitzer Prize winning book published two years before, the Rodgers and Hammerstein stage musical South Pacific debuted on Broadway on this day in 1949 and was an instant success with audiences for its standards and candid portrayal of prejudice—particularly with the lieutenant’s song in the title. Preambled by the spoken line that “racism is not born in you… it happens after you are born” before breaking into song, while the show was touring on a junket in the southern United States, law makers in Georgia introduced a bill banning subversive, Moscow influenced entertainment—adding a showtune justifying interracial marriage was a fundamental threat to American values and the American way of life. The number stayed in the show and is also referenced in Hamilton’s “My Shot”—“I’m with you but the situation is fraught, you’ve got to be carefully taught.” The musical won ten Tony awards and a medley of standards from the 1958 movie version can be found below.