Meryl Streep was honoured with the Cecil B. DeMille Award at the 74th Annual Golden Globes.
So what did the veteran actor do when accepting this award? Burn Trump, talk about the privileges of Hollywood and remember Carrie Fisher.
When the Sophie's Choice star took the stage, she did not shy away from sharing her political opinions and called out the US president-elect for mocking a disabled person.
Dame Streep opened her speech with a joke about Trump's election, "You’ll have to forgive me. I’ve lost my voice in screaming and lamentation this weekend. And I have lost my mind sometime earlier this year, so I have to read."
She picked up where Hugh Laurie left off in his speech, "Just to pick up on what Hugh Laurie said: You and all of us in this room really belong to the most vilified segments in American society right now. Think about it: Hollywood, foreigners and the press."
She reminded her audience how much Hollywood is threatened by Trump's xenophobic ideology.
"Who are we, and what is Hollywood anyway? It’s just a bunch of people from other places. Amy Adams was born in Vicenza, Italy. And Natalie Portman was born in Jerusalem. Where are their birth certificates?"
Said Dame Streep, "Who are we, and what is Hollywood anyway? It’s just a bunch of people from other places. I was born and raised and educated in the public schools of New Jersey. Viola was born in a sharecropper’s cabin in South Carolina, came up in Central Falls, Rhode Island; Sarah Paulson was born in Florida, raised by a single mom in Brooklyn. Sarah Jessica Parker was one of seven or eight kids in Ohio. Amy Adams was born in Vicenza, Italy. And Natalie Portman was born in Jerusalem. Where are their birth certificates? And the beautiful Ruth Negga was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, raised in London — no, in Ireland I do believe, and she’s here nominated for playing a girl in small-town Virginia. Ryan Gosling, like all of the nicest people, is Canadian, and Dev Patel was born in Kenya, raised in London, and is here playing an Indian raised in Tasmania.
What she wanted to say was, "So 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, which are not the arts."
She said it was an actor's job to embrace difference: "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 there were many, many, many powerful performances this year that did exactly that. Breathtaking, compassionate work."
It was after this introduction, that she moved to what she really wanted to talk about: the behavior of the US president, particularly his mocking of a disabled person.
"But there was one performance this year that stunned me," said Streep, "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 made its intended audience laugh, and show their teeth. 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 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. 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 kinda gives permission for other people to do the same thing."
She added, "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. 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 kinda gives permission for other people to do the same thing. Disrespect invites disrespect, violence incites violence. And when the powerful use their position to bully others we all lose."
This opinion of hers came with a message to the press as Streep said, "We need the principled press to hold power to account, to call him on the carpet for every outrage. That’s why our founders enshrined the press and its freedoms in the Constitution. So I only ask the famously well-heeled Hollywood Foreign Press and all of us in our community to join me in supporting the Committee to Protect Journalists, because we’re gonna need them going forward, and they’ll need us to safeguard the truth."
This was not all. Streep also pointed out how Hollywood needs to be aware of their privilege. She gave the example, "Once, when I was standing around on the set one day, whining about something — you know we were gonna work through supper or the long hours or whatever, Tommy Lee Jones said to me, “Isn’t it such a privilege, Meryl, just to be an actor?” Yeah, it is, and we have to remind each other of the privilege and the responsibility of the act of empathy. We should all be proud of the work Hollywood honors here tonight."
She concluded her speech with a heartfelt tribute to Carrie Fisher. "As my friend, the dear departed Princess Leia, said to me once, take your broken heart, make it into art."
Dame Meryl Streep was met with a roaring applause for her wonderful speech. While some did not appreciate her bringing politics so vividly into the affair, many lauded her for her unabashed opinions and using the stage for a bigger purpose.