Con: Against Meryl Streep's Speech

Lauren Salzman Co-Editor-in-Chief   The Cecil B. DeMille Award is awarded annually at the Golden Globes to someone who has made “outstanding contributions to the world of entertainment.” This year, it was given to Meryl Streep. Prior to Streep accepting her award, Viola Davis introduced her and remarked on the inspiration that Streep provided her. She started to cry as she reminisced about never having the courage to tell Streep how much she truly meant to her, and was using this moment as a chance to do so. However, in Streep’s acceptance speech, she neither addressed her prolific career, nor the impact that her work has had on others – two reasons that led to her recognition that evening. After such an emotional and heartfelt opening from Davis, I was left wanting more from Streep. Meryl Streep has undoubtedly had one of the most meaningful and successful careers of any actor, and if anyone flawlessly embodies feminism, it is she. Streep does so not necessarily by speaking out, but by portraying strong female characters, whether it be her roles in Silkwood, Sophie’s Choice, Iron Lady, or her newest film, Florence Foster Jenkins. To begin her acceptance remarks, she mentioned that the film world was a microcosm of ideas and beliefs with people from all around the globe. She remarked that “Hollywood is crawling with outsiders and foreigners, and if we kick them all out, we’ll have nothing to watch but football.” If she had simply stopped after this first section of her speech and proceeded to talk about her inspirations and her career, the political message would have still resonated with the audience due to the ethos of the speaker. However, her targeted speech continued at the expense of viewers being able to hear about her life. Throughout her speech, she never uttered the President-Elect’s name, but clearly alluded to him. She later went on to address Donald Trump more directly, noting her disturbance when he imitated a disabled reporter. She minimally connected her speech to Hollywood and her career, but rather lamented that Trump’s “real life” performance saddened her. With the political climate of our country in upheaval, people particularly look to celebrities to provide a voice and to right the wrongs of injustice. Meryl Streep started off her acceptance speech in that vain, but continued for too long about politics and her liberal agenda. This was the Golden Globes, not the Women’s March, which would have afforded her a better and more appropriate platform for her thoughts. Additionally, she did not provide a call to action or cry for optimism. One line that caught my eye amidst a list of bombardments was, “When the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose.” This beautifully crafted line could have been a transition into how Hollywood has been able to positively shape how to treat others, but disappointingly, it did not. At the 50th Academy Awards in 1978, Vanessa Redgrave sparked an uproar when she used her time in her acceptance speech to support the PLO. Later during that Oscar’s telecast, screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky said, “I would like to say — personal opinion of course — that I’m sick and tired of people exploiting the Academy Awards for the propagation of their own propaganda. I would like to suggest to Miss Redgrave that her winning the Academy Award is not a pivotal moment in history, does not require a proclamation, and a simple “thank you” would have sufficed.” In 2003, Michael Moore, when receiving his Oscar for best director, vehemently spoke out against the Bush administration, and received some negative feedback. However as each year goes by, expressing political agendas at awards shows has come to be regular practice, and accepted as normal. We tend not to question it as out of place. I am by no means saying that Streep did not have the right to state her beliefs, I just do not agree with the way she did so. She started off her speech beautifully with an appropriate dose of political opinion, and evoked such emotion that the rest of the speech was barely needed. Viewers watch the Golden Globes and other award shows in order to indulge in and celebrate the happenings in television and film over the past year, but have come to accept political statements and rambling speeches as part of the deal. I am a huge fan of Streep and her talents and just wish I could have heard more about her career, how she got to where she is, and her inspirations, since her speech was a rare opportunity for her to actually share these kind of messages.]]>