"We all lose."
Meryl Streep is the epitome of class. She is also one of the most talented actresses Hollywood has seen to date. Furthermore, Streep is a tireless campaigner and advocate for the arts, women’s rights, and human rights.
But I don’t care what you think about Meryl Streep. Neither your nor my feelings on her matter to this article. What matters is that last night, at the 74th Golden Globe Awards, Meryl Streep won the Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award and used her acceptance speech to stress the importance of the free press (the Golden Globes are produced in association with the Hollywood Foreign Press Association) and stand up for a man who was defamed by the president-elect.
In her speech, Streep touches upon the many transgressions of the president-elect, but she focused her effort on one moment that continues to stand out for many as being among Trump’s very worst: When he mocked out a disabled reporter with whom he had personal problems.
“It wasn’t in a movie. It was real life.”
In Streep’s words:
“An actor’s only job is to enter the lives of people who are different from us, and let you feel what that feels like. And there were many, many, many powerful performances this year that did exactly that. Breathtaking, compassionate work.
“But 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, and I still can’t get it out of my head, because it wasn’t in a movie. It was real life. And this instinct to humiliate, when it’s modeled by someone in the public platform, by someone powerful, it filters down into everybody’s life, because it kinda gives permission for other people to do the same thing. Disrespect invites disrespect, violence incites violence. And when the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose.”
Streep went on to challenge the press to do their duty during the next four years as the freedom of speech is under attack more than it has been in recent memory. She even went on to acknowledge her own privilege as an actress and encouraged the audience to practice empathy.
Of course, no one is allowed to talk about President-elect Trump without Trump throwing a fit about it.
By Monday morning, he had already responded to Streep’s comments by tweeting:
“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!”
Suddenly, her speech was no longer about empathy or respect or human dignity or the importance of the press (which Trump repeatedly undermines). Instead, Trump made this personal by insulting Meryl’s talent and political by dragging the actress’ liberal beliefs into the situation. And the best part? He denied—yet again—that he ever mocked out a reporter.
But here’s the problem: He did, despite what anyone may say about it after the fact.