Dear Meryl Streep, Your Golden Globes Speech Was Misleading

Meryl Streep as Zofia “Sophie” Zawistowski in <em>Sophie’s Choice</em>.
Meryl Streep as Zofia “Sophie” Zawistowski in Sophie’s Choice.

On Sunday night, while I was eating mini chocolate-frosted donuts, you were at the Golden Globes, giving a speech about Donald Trump.

Some people liked what you said and others disliked it. Law and Order’s Chris Meloni said you were a goddess, but conservative pundit Tomi Lahren said you were exposing your #liberalprivilege. Though you probably don’t care, I thought your speech was misleading, and I am going to tell you why.

Your speech began by stating that Hollywood is “just a bunch of people from other places.” You tell how Sarah Jessica Parker is from Ohio and Sarah Paulson is from Florida. But they’re not there now. If they were, a lot less people would care about them and they probably wouldn’t have so much money to spend on cosmetic surgery and designer dresses. Being from dissimilar places doesn’t preclude people from someday being similarly privileged. Donald Trump’s administration, also, is “just a bunch of people from other places.” Jeff Sessions is from Alabama, Stephen Bannon is from Virginia, and Mike Pence is from Indiana. Presently, they’re all in Washington and they’re all privileged too.

You then revealed that some actors and actresses were born outside of the country, like Dev Patel was born in Kenya. You said, “If we kick them all out, we’ll have nothing to watch but football and mixed martial arts, which are not the arts.”

First off, Trump most likely won’t deport anyone nominated for a Golden Globe award. They’re famous. They have money, resources, and visibility. Trump will deport those who aren’t famous. It takes a lot less work to ruin the life of someone who doesn’t have money, resources, or visibility.

Second off, “art” is very mobile. In 1961, Piero Manzoni put poop in cans and called that “art.” Recently, Richard Prince printed Instagrams and sold them as “art.” But banishing certain things from being considered art isn’t “art.” Also, maybe it’d be better if Americans did have less to watch. Maybe if they weren’t staring at screens so much then they’d be more thoughtful and less zombie-like.

Next, you said “an actor’s only job is to enter the lives of different people and to let you feel what that feels like.” In Sophie’s Choice, you played someone who was in the Holocaust. But playing someone in the Holocaust is not the same as being in the Holocaust. And watching someone play someone in the Holocaust is not the same as being in the Holocaust either. Only someone who was in the Holocaust can truly feel what it was like. No one is actually feeling these feelings: it’s make-believe.

You then go on about how awful it was for Trump to tease a disabled reporter. You told how Trump outranked this reporter in power and in the capacity to fight back. But that’s kind of misleading. As president-elect, Trump has more power than almost everyone in America, including you. Also, this reporter is employed by the New York Times, one of the world’s most powerful newspapers. It’s not like the reporter is jobless, homeless, or starving.

After this, you declare that violence leads to violence and bullying leads to bullying. But violence is integral to movies and television shows, many of which are honored by the Golden Globes. Bullying, too, is fundamental to Hollywood. Hollywood men bully and sexually assault women as much as Trump does. Casey Affleck allegedly bullied and assaulted and the Golden Globes gave him an award.

Meryl, your speech makes it seem as if Hollywood and Trump’s administration are opposites. But you’re a lot a like. You both make a big fuss about how much you care about everyone, but mostly you just care about yourself and your personal brand.