I would like to applaud Meryl Streep, for her courage to speak out recently at the Golden Globes. Her powerful words resonated around the world and hopefully elevated how people think about the very concerning time in which we are living. The message was obviously intended for Donald Trump, but also caused me to wonder what would happen if we took Mrs. Streep's impactful words and considered them in the context of Hollywood. "But there was one performance this year that stunned me. It, it sank its hooks in my heart... 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 -- 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."
After hearing her amazing speech, I reflected upon the multiple performances over the years that have "stunned me" and that I also "can't get out of my head." They were however in my case, "movies." Movies, which have had an impact on many real lives. The big question is should Hollywood be held to a similar accountability as Trump and his ilk? We as an industry are quite vocal and critical of ignorant comments made by political figures. I believe Hollywood would benefit by examining the effect that negative words and images in media, can have on particular groups of people.
"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 kind of gives permission for other people to do the same thing." I couldn't agree more and would challenge our industry to find just a few Hollywood movies where a real handicapped actor actually plays the role of a handicapped person or a Latino in a non gang member or maid role or a Muslim character that wins the girl, not kidnaps her. It wouldn't surprise me if over the years, the President-Elect and some of his "associates," were aided in forming their distorted views about women, blacks, gays, handicapped, Muslims and Latinos from the words and images inside of Hollywood movies, TV shows and the nightly news. After all, it is called,"programming."Disrespect invites disrespect. Violence incites violence." Well said, Meryl.
The opportunity for self-examination and change doesn't even need to be driven by a social conscience. Just as important, it's good for the business of Hollywood, which is trending the wrong direction in overall movie ticket sales. In the U.S. alone, in 2015 there were 1 billion movie tickets sold, for total receipts of $8.5 billion dollars. African Americans bought 100 million tickets and contributed $850 million dollars to the Hollywood economy. Latinos bought 225 million tickets and contributed, drum roll please... $2.1 billion (with a B) dollars to the Hollywood coffers. Apply the "Pareto principle," to the collective Latino/Black buying power and its obvious they are driving the economics of many movies. Put another way, they are putting a lot of gas in the car, but not getting to drive very often.
Her words, "When the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose." I again agree with and would like to shed light on the constant comments of industry executives that the reason there aren't more diverse films and TV shows, is because the talent isn't there. Sorry, but I have to call B.S. on that one! The real problem isn't a lack of talent; it's a lack of diverse executives able to recognize the "cultural cadences" that a diverse talent pool would bring to the table. After all it worked for, "Hamilton."
I would like to close on Mrs. Streep's beautiful quote from her dear departed friend Princess Leia that I hope everyone in Hollywood can aspire to, in creating a healthier and more diverse entertainment industry. "Help us take OUR broken hearts and, make it into art." Bravo!