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Meryl Streep’s Golden Globe Speech Will Light 10 Fires Under Your Ass
01.09.17
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JANUARY 08: In this handout photo provided by NBCUniversal, Meryl Streep accepts Cecil B. DeMille Award during the 74th Annual Golden Globe Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 8, 2017 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Paul Drinkwater/NBCUniversal via Getty Images)

Although it may have seemed like the piece de résistance of last night’s Golden Globes was 31-year-old Damien Chazelle’s La La Land, it was really Meryl Streep’s stunning Lifetime Achievement award acceptance speech that owned the evening. (In close second was Viola Davis’ presenting the award to Streep, who said some very beautiful things about her — “Her artistry reminds us the impact of what it means to be an artist, which is to make us feel less alone;” “You are a muse…You make me feel that what I have in me — my body, my face, my age is enough.”)

Here is a clip of the 6-minute response from Streep.

Of course, she’d have won out of the gates by simple virtue of the fact that she lost her voice over the weekend in a lamentation.

Such is the unwitting power of Streep. The quiet triumphant power here is in her unique ability to deliver commentary that is both articulate and brief, elegant and biting — that references intimate details about the peers that she admires, to bring them in and make them one, in order to prove a point about an adversary. A political adversary whose performance “sunk claws” into Streep’s heart. Everyone knows precisely who she is talking about even though she never utters his name.

Following a powerful reminder that, “Hollywood is crawling with outsiders and foreigners so if you kick them all out, you’ll have nothing to watch but football and the martial arts,” she called upon the press to join her in protecting journalists because, “We’re going to need them going forward and they need us to safeguard the truth.”

And then she looked square into the camera lens and dropped the most important message of all: “We have to remind ourselves of the privilege and the act of empathy.”

I know I reference George Saunders’ 2006 essay, “The Braindead Megaphone” often, but last night was an incredible case study in using The Megaphone for good. That Streep mentioned her own success and the people who helped her achieve it not once is a reminder of the importance of community (we need each other to survive!).

Her message was louder than simply accepting an award for her work, it was a testament to the power, privilege and moral responsibility that arrives when you’ve earned a big enough platform to have your voice heard. And as I was thinking about this, it occurred to me that no matter how big or small they are, we all have platforms. Platforms that can provoke impressively wide reach. Such is the blessing (and sometimes the curse) of living in the trenches of the social media era. Use them thoughtfully and wisely.

Photo via Getty Images.

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  • I can’t stand all the dissenters screeching the “rich celebrities” should shut their mouths and stay out of politics. Disregarding the irony of the fact that they just voted one of those “rich celebrities” into one of the the most powerful positions in the world, those celebrities have every right to use their platform, as you said. What better way to use a platform than to inspire people and ask for inclusivity and openmindedness?

    • Holly Laine Mascaro

      This is a good point – sometimes I get a little tired of hearing their opinions just because I feel like they’re preaching to the choir, they’re all sitting in the same room speaking to like-minded people, and I feel that’s what got us so deep into this mess (the whole “echo chamber” issue); but the point that Trump himself was just a celebrity in a major way, and also reminding myself that plenty of other people are sitting there at home watching who may not think the same way – it helps to keep that in mind.

    • “They’ve got something they do it with, I think it’s called a mocracy,
      and it means everyone in the whole country can say who the new Tyrant
      is. One man … one vet. … Everyone has … the vet. Except for women,
      of course. And children. And criminals. And slaves. And stupid people.
      And people of foreign extraction. And people disapproved of for, er,
      various reasons. And lots of other people. But everyone apart from them.
      It’s a very enlightened civilization.”

      Terry Pratchett, Pyramids

      • Grace B

        man, rip Terry. His writing was so unique and fun. I need to re-read some of this books! thanks for this.

        • Am still crying he’s gone.

          • Grace B

            🙁

  • Emy M

    I thought she said “lamentation” not loud meditation – but maybe they’re related, like bagism (wearing a bag, and yelling, a la John and Yoko) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bagism

    • Leandra Medine

      SHE DID I KNOW BUT LOUD MEDITATION IS SO MUCH BETTER DONT YOU THINK!!!!

      • Leandra Medine

        Just clicked that link. This is a stupid joke. Fixing copy.

        • Emy M

          I like you!

          Definitely going to read the George Saunders article you called out – I did not know about this one.

  • Janet Hasselblad

    Incredible Meryl. She eloquently voiced exactly what needed to be said. We are all in this together. I agree that we need one another more now than ever before. Thanks for posting this.

  • Yue

    The speech was great until she decided to dig at martial arts for some reason. It galls me that she denies that it’s art, especially since in hollywood the way a lot of minorities have made it in is through their strength in martial arts. And I’m not just talking about Jet Li or Jackie, The Rock came into hollywood through WWE and a majority of asian actresses are also martial artists.

    But then, correct me if I’m wrong, but I’ve never seen Meryl champion an actor of color in a substantive way.

  • Olivia AP

    I think her speech was great, but when she got to the part of MMA and football you are making your message less effective. Last election was very dividing: “us” and “them”. So I don’t think it’s helpful to deliver a message that implies division among the people who voted for each candidate. The democrats, who watch movies which are art; and the republicans, which watch football and MMA. For me that was unnecessary because it translates that one group is better than the other. Criticizing Trump alone would have been more than enough.

  • Wendy Shumski Buzzanga

    Liberal, progressive, ASS!!!!! I will NEVER purchase or watch ANYTHING she’s in EVER again. As for Repeller….stick to fashion.