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.