Whitney Thomas, Coeditor of Student Life
This month, at the 74th annual Golden Globes, Meryl Streep, 30 time nominee and 8 time winner, was given the Cecil B. DeMille Award, a lifetime achievement award. However, her speech, not her award, is what she will be remembered for on that night. As many had done prior to her speech, she used her moment in the spotlight to deliver a statement against Trump and encourage inclusiveness, specifically among immigrants and those often classified as outsiders.
Streep begins the speech by thanking the Hollywood Foreign Press, and referred to a statement by Hugh Laurie, which said that everyone in the room was part of “the most vilified segments in American society… Hollywood, foreigners, and the press.” She followed to name the various places where actors and actresses in the room were from, such as herself, from New Jersey, and Natalie Portman, who was born in Israel. She argued that Hollywood is simply a group of outsiders and said that “if you kick them all out, you’ll be left with you’ll have nothing to watch but football and mixed martial arts, which are not the arts”. She emphasized the importance of empathy, saying that an actor’s sole job is to “is to enter the lives of people who are different from us, and let you feel what that feels like”. She criticized Donald Trump for his alleged mockery of a disabled New York Times reporter, Serge Kovaleski, in November of 2015. She said it “broke her heart” to see Trump, who outranks him in “privilege, power and the capacity to fight back”, humiliate him, and that actors must use their public platforms to spread empathy and discourage bullying. She then asked for people to join her in supporting the press because its freedom is Constitutional and to hold Trump responsible for his misdeeds.
Trump took to Twitter, as he often does, to release a statement regarding his feelings about the speech: Meryl Streep, one of the most over-rated actresses in Hollywood, doesn’t know me but attacked last night at the Golden Globes. She is a Hillary flunky who lost big. For the 100th time, I never “mocked” a disabled reporter (would never do that) but simply showed him “groveling” when he totally changed a 16 year old story that he had written in order to make me look bad. Just more very dishonest media!”
Predictably, many celebrities voiced their praise for Streep’s speech. Ellen Degeneres, @TheEllenShow, tweeted “There has never been anyone like Meryl Streep. I love her. #GoldenGlobes“. Jesse Tyler Ferguson, @jessetyler, tweeted “Meryl Streep giving an epic and powerful speech at the #GoldenGlobes.” Ricky Gervais, @rickygervais, even when as far to compare Trump to Hitler in his tweet: “Fascists used to have a much better sense of humour about Hollywood actors mocking them :)”.
There were some, however, who were less-than-impressed with Streep. A photo of Mel Gibson, who’s notoriously conservative, and Vince Vaughn, a libertarian, of them, went viral after they were shown grimacing while Streep delivered her speech. Meghan McCain, @MeghanMcCain, tweeted “This Meryl Streep speech is why Trump won. And if people in Hollywood don’t start recognizing why and how – you will help him get re-elected”, suggesting that Hollywood belittles and isolates voters who agree with Trump’s policies. Many conservatives tended to argue that the speech was an example of elitism, and that Streep was not in a position to understand the struggles of middle and working class families.
Neither Streep nor Trump have given any follow-up comments regarding the speech since the Golden Globes. While it is up for debate whether or not Streep was in a position to give meaningful political commentary, the content of her message is on many American minds as President Trump begins his first days in office and anxiously await the days to come.