Only 8 days into the new year, and just 12 days before the presidential inauguration, Meryl Streep set a tone for Hollywood in 2017.
Following a tear-inducing, passionate speech by her colleague Viola Davis and a montage of her 40-year career, Streep took to the Golden Globes stage to accept the Cecil B. DeMille award for "outstanding contributions to the world of entertainment”. However, rather than revisit her long career and go through her list of thank-yous, she spoke earnestly about a performance in 2016 that shook her to her core: President-Elect Donald Trump’s.
“There was one performance this year that stunned me. 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,” she said to a quiet crowd. “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. Disrespect invites disrespect, violence incites violence. And when the powerful use their position to bully others we all lose.”
It was a sobering moment for the audience, and those watching at home, to be reminded that Donald Trump is not a character, though he has been treated as such by the media for quite some time. Donald Trump is not actually a caricature, yet he has guest-starred on SNL, had his hair ruffled on Jimmy Fallon, and was given consistent, steady press throughout the course of his run because his irrational behavior and hot temper sparked more click-worthy headlines.
Streep’s speech was not meant to warn the audience about Donald Trump’s poor behavior, but a reminder that in 2017, just a week and half before he enters the White House, we need to hold him accountable for his actions and words, especially public figures who have the privilege of being voices of influence. We need to remind ourselves that he is not a character, but will be the leader of the free world. Streep is not only setting the tone for 2017 Hollywood, but she is doling out responsibilities and putting each individual to task. Streep, the master of performance and a celebrated chameleon actor, has never been so transparent.
Watch the full speech below: