By INDIRA MOOSAI
Meryl Streep is an incredible actress, and her reputation is backed up by the number of awards and nominations she’s received from the Academy. From playing the lovely, free-spirited Donna Sheridan in Mamma Mia!, to her performance as Miranda Priestly, the authoritative “Queen Bee” in The Devil Wears Prada, no one can doubt that she wears her talent proudly on her sleeve. At the 74th Golden Globes ceremony, Streep won the Cecil B. DeMille award for “outstanding contributions to the world of entertainment”. Accepting her award, she showed that she is a woman with strong political values that she isn’t afraid to share with the world. She exercised her right to free speech at the 2017 Golden Globes by voicing her dissenting opinions towards President Donald Trump’s actions in great detail, all without ever saying his name.
As she stood well-prepared on the stage, she said, “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. 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.”
Streep was referring to the time when Trump mocked a New York Times reporter, Serge F. Kovaleski, by mimicking his arm movements at a November 2015 campaign event.
Many agreed with her commentary, but some said her comments were inappropriate and that the ceremony was not the place to discuss politics.
This is understandable, seeing that it was the Golden Globes and not a campaign event. It may seem like it wasn’t the right forum to discuss politics, but with an audience of millions, a voice as strong as Streep’s will certainly spark conversation. And that’s exactly what she wanted. That was the point. Celebrities know that their actions will get a reaction from the public and therefore feel responsible to act as “figureheads” for their beliefs.
We’ve seen celebrities do this time and time again. Take, for instance, Tampa Bay Buccaneers star receiver Mike Evans, who protested Donald Trump’s election by sitting during the national anthem. Is it a good way to get people to react? Yes. Is it the most appropriate action at the time and place? Not really. However, the message is that when something is inherently wrong, you must take a stand (or seat) for what you think is right. Otherwise, injustices will continue to take place.
Streep continued, “Hollywood is crawling with outsiders and foreigners and if we kick them all out, you’ll have nothing to watch but football and mixed martial arts, which are not the arts.”
While Hollywood has had many outsiders and foreigners contribute greatly to the success of countless franchises, such as Jackie Chan in Rush Hour and the British cast of the Harry Potter series, calling football and mixed martial arts, “not the arts,” was a bit uncalled for. In a speech aimed to condemn discrimination of any kind, this statement came off as hypocritical. Streep received minor backlash from these sporting communities in the days following her speech.
MMA promoter Scott Coker wrote to Streep via twitter, “The global sport of mixed martial art celebrates males and female athletes from around the world who work years tirelessly honing their crafts and – yes – arts.”
While the idea of speaking out against a malpractice should be praised, Streep could have been more successful in her choice of words.
This was a valiant effort on Streep’s part. It had it’s strengths and weaknesses, but we can learn from it. It doesn’t take being a celebrity to have your voice heard. It doesn’t take putting down another to bring yourself up. As the adage goes, when they go low, you don’t also go low; you go high.