Actress Meryl Streep made her debut in 1975 and has since acted in more than 50 different movies and shows. She has taken on roles ranging from politicians, to celebrities, to average Janes which have earned her three Academy Awards, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, eight Golden Globe Awards, three Critic’s Choice Awards, one Tony nomination, two Emmy Awards, and a Kennedy Center Honor among other accolades.
On Jan. 8, 2017 at the 74th Annual Golden Globes, Meryl Streep epitomized what artists are supposed to do. She used her artistic platform to say what everyone is thinking about the political state of the United States. In her acceptance speech for the Cecil B. DeMille Award, Streep quietly spoke about President-elect Donald Trump’s portrayal New York Times reporter Serge Kovaleski that was made famous on different newscasts and political commercials.
“There was one performance this year that stunned me,” she said. “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 was that moment when the person asking to sit in the most respected seat in our country imitated a disabled reporter,” she continued. “Someone he outranked in privilege, power and the capacity to fight back.”
Streep never named names in her speech, but she didn’t have to. And within hours, Trump took to his Twitter feed to respond to Streep’s remarks as he has done to other artists who have spoken directly to his administration, such as the Broadway cast of “Hamilton.”
“Meryl Streep, one of the most overrated actresses in Hollywood, doesn’t know me but attacked last night at the Golden Globes. She is a…….,” he tweeted. “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!”
In her final remarks, Streep stated “When the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose.” Her entire speech, though politically motivated, was not calling attention to bullying other people. It was meant to make us all aware of the importance of understanding each other no matter our differences. And clearly, Trump cannot take that kind of a message sitting down.
“She didn’t have to stoop to Trump’s level of nastiness to be heard. She did so eloquently, and almost politely, while still staying true to her message as both a woman and an artist. And that in itself says something.”
Trump calling Streep “overrated” really reflects on his character as he prepares to become the 45th President of the United States. His constant tweeting about anyone who disagrees with him, or who have something to say about him, makes it seem as if he’s just sitting behind his phone waiting to call people out. This childish game is not the caliber of a president elect, and Streep used her platform to make her statements heard–which she is allowed to do just as Trump is on Twitter or television.
Not surprisingly, Streep received negative comments saying that artists should stick to their art and not politics. But there were also quite a few people, celebrities and non-celebrities alike, who voiced similar opinions to Streep’s. One of Streep’s closest friends, actor Robert DeNiro, sent Streep a letter following Sunday’s Golden Globes agreeing with Streep and sharing his own views on the incoming president.
“He’s a punk, he’s a dog, he’s a pig, he’s a con, a bullshit artist,” De Niro said of Trump in October. “A mutt who doesn’t know what he’s talking about, doesn’t do his homework, doesn’t care, thinks he’s gaming society, doesn’t pay his taxes. He talks about how he’d like to punch people in the face, well, I’d like to punch him in the face.”
Trump might only read a targeting of his political ambitions in her acceptance speech, but Streep did her job as an artist. She made people think. She made people pay attention. And, she got people talking. And President-elect Trump obviously doesn’t like it when people talk either about him, his businesses, or his campaign in any way but positively.
Streep’s remarks are clear evidence of this. Trump knows that the country is divided over him being elected, with some people being extremely angry. But instead of bringing people together, he continues to attack those who already don’t like him and give them even more reason not to. Streep, however, brought the people disenfranchised by Trump together.
She didn’t have to stoop to Trump’s level of nastiness to be heard. She did so eloquently, and almost politely, while still staying true to her message as both a woman and an artist. And that in itself says something.
With Trump taking office in a matter of days, people need a reason to believe that things will be okay. Instead of dreading the next four years, the public needs to know that there are people out there who don’t align themselves with Trump’s way of thinking. And if anyone can show the world that we can get through this, it is someone like Meryl Streep.
Unlike Trump, Meryl knows the power of using art to create ideas, movements, and change. And for the next four years, we need artists more than ever. Last Sunday night Streep showed everyone the influence that one artistic voice can possess, and if that’s overrated, then maybe more people should strive to be overrated.