Sunday night at the Golden Globes, Meryl Streep was honored with the Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement. The outspoken Streep, ever the political activist, stepped up to the bully pulpit she’d been given, and launched into an emotionally charged diatribe against the president-elect without ever calling him by name.
There was one performance this year that stunned me. It sank its hooks in my heart. Not because it was good. There was nothing good about it. But it was effective, and it did its job. It made its intended audience laugh and show their teeth.
It was that moment when the person asking to sit in the most respected seat in our country imitated a disabled reporter. Someone he outranked in privilege, power and the capacity to fight back. It kind of broke my heart when I saw it. I still can’t get it out of my head because it wasn’t in a movie. It was real life.
“Disrespect invites disrespect. Violence incites violence,” she said.
Streep named actors Viola Davis, African-American and daughter of a sharecropper and Dev Patel, born in Kenya and raised in London, and others who are “people from other places,” because “Hollywood is crawling with outsiders and foreigners.” Trump would exclude them from a native-born, white society— and what a great loss that would be.
Monday morning at 6:30 Trump responded to Streep’s remarks as the jejune narcissist he repeatedly has shown himself to be: his only comeback when he feels slighted or criticized is to demean the person he feels has disrespected him. Resorting to Twitter, his favorite means of communication, he called Streep, the most celebrated of actors, “one of the most over-rated actresses in Hollywood.” (She is in fact the most nominated, 409 times, 19 for Oscars and 30 for Golden Globes; plus 157 awards.)
The most honored artist in Hollywood called on the press to hold Trump’s feet to the fire and entreated the public to join her “in supporting the Committee to Protect Journalists, because we’re going to need them going forward.”
Trump constantly reviles the press. The First Amendment is our bulwark against tyranny, and it is under siege. Meryl Streep’s outrage should be felt by every American.
Photo by Andreas Tai – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4944442