Meryl Streep could hardly speak when she received her lifetime achievement award Sunday night at the Golden Globes, but even through a weak voice, she still had plenty to say. She dug into President –elect Donald Trump, taking him to task for allegedly making fun of New York Times reporter, Serge Kovaleski who suffers from arthrogryposis multiplex congenital, a disorder that causes curving of the joints. Whether or not Trump was poking fun remains in question, but the downfall from Streep’s commentary is the beginning of a very long four years of Hollywood celebrites going to war with the 45th President of the United States. Brace yourself, Streep is merely the beginning.
We are living in a moment right now when the country is looking for a reason to be divided. Whether you side with the right or the left, you must as admit that we are sitting on our respective sides of the fence waiting anxiously for the other side to show their derrieres in public so that we can then engage in a campaign of finger-pointing – and remember the President of the United States hasn’t even been sworn in yet.
Outside of anything that Meryl Streep had to say, its greater impact seems to reside on the question that both the right and the left seem to be struggling with. Should celebrities presented with an award use that platform to speak their minds or should they just thank their agent then shut up and get off stage?
Since Streep’s onstage tirade against the President-Elect, I’ve been wrestling with this question. I see both sides of the issue. On one hand, Meryl Streep has every right to speak her mind. If something is bothering her then she has the right to express her view. Of course, some would argue that she could have said the same things in a tweet but, of course, she would get better results from the medium of television wherein she had the full attention of 20 million viewers all at the same time – and it makes a juicy sound bite.
On the other hand, Streep could simply have said thank you to all those who brought her to The Cecil B. DeMille Award and remained humble in face of one of the most illustrious film careers of the latter half of the 20th century (love her or hate her, she’s one of the best actors that we have). YET, if she had simply thanked her agent, her husband and her stylist then it would have made for a fairly boring show.
That really is what’s at issue here. We don’t watch award shows to see people get awards for films and television shows that we haven’t seen and thank people we don’t know or care about. We watch award shows because we want to see the efficacies that live television is heir to. Nobody cares if Leonardo DiCaprio thanks his mother. We are secretly waiting for Sasheen Littlefeather to turn down Marlon Brando’s Oscar. We want to see a naked man streak across the stage. We want to see Kanye West ruin Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech. We want to see Jack Palance do one-handed push-ups. We want to see Sally Field launch into a giddy gush-fest of “You LIKE ME!!” We want Rob Lowe sing an ill-advised duet with Snow White.
We are a country that has made reality television a cottage industry, we love the unexpected. We love it when people slip in the mud. We love to see our celebrities slip from the mantle of good manners. It’s in our blood. It’s what keeps Howard Stern and Family Guy afloat. And, here’s the kick, it’s not going away. Over the next four years there will be a continued all-out war between the Hollywood community and the man seated in the Oval office. They are going to love to stoke the chief executive for no other reason than they know they can get a rise out of him – and he responds in kind. And to anyone who is offended by it all, fine, be offended, but spare us the look of surprise.