Meryl Streep makes a case for empathy at the Golden Globes
Philip Ellison 09 January, 2017 at 10:01
Meryl Streep was the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Golden Globes this weekend, and took the opportunity in her acceptance speech to speak about diversity, empathy, and respect.
As Streep sees it, 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 while she praised the work being honoured by Hollywood that evening, there is one performance from the last year which really “stunned” Streep; that of president-elect Donald Trump.
Without once mentioning his name, Streep condemned Trump for mocking disabled reporter Serge Kovaleski, an act which “made its intended audience laugh and show their teeth.”
“This instinct to humiliate… it filters down into everybody’s life,” she continued. “It kinda gives permission for other people to do the same thing. Disrespect invites disrespect. Violence incites violence. When the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose.”
Streep also spoke out regarding the need for a principled press which can hold power to account, before ending her speech with a quote from her friend, the late Carrie Fisher: “Take your broken heart, make it into art.”
The Globes ceremony was also praised for its celebration of diverse talent; Tracee Ellis Ross and Donald Glover were named Best Actress and Best Actor in a TV Comedy or Musical for their respective lead roles in Black-ish and Atlanta, while Viola Davis won Best Supporting Actress for Fences. Glover’s Atlanta also won Best Series, while the Best Picture Award—Drama went to Moonlight, a nuanced examination of black sexuality and masculinity.
The arts have always played a crucial role in shaping cultural perceptions and norms, from theatre to soap operas to pop music. It is encouraging, then, that the Golden Globes honours work by creators and performers who have been side-lined so often in the past, as these are the voices which will be needed in 2017.
“What is Hollywood, anyway? It’s just a bunch of people from other places,” says Streep. “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.”