Meryl Streep is renowned for being an immaculate and outspoken performer and human being, and during the Golden Globes evening, she did not let us down. Upon receiving the Cecil B Demille Lifetime Achievement Award from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the legendary actress gave us a passionate, fiery tirade against xenophobia and the fear of outsiders that has now been given a presidential platform in our country.
In her speech, she hearkened back to Hugh Laurie’s words earlier in the evening about how Hollywood, foreigners, and the press are some of “the most vilified segments in American society right now.”
“But who are we, and what is Hollywood anyway?” she asked. “It’s just a bunch of people from other places.” She went on to describe the upbringings of the various actresses who were nominated for their performances, including Viola Davis, Amy Adams, Sarah Paulson, and Ruth Negga.
But then, Streep addressed President-elect Donald Trump directly, explaining that the moment when he mocked Serge Kovaleski, a disabled New York Times reporter, was the one performance this year that “stunned” her.
Here’s everything she said about it. Read every word, and let it sink in:
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—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 kind of 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 brings me to the press. We need the principled press to hold power to account, to call them on the carpet for every outrage. That’s why our founders enshrined the press and its freedoms in our 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 going to need them going forward. And they’ll need us to safeguard the truth.
Sure, Hollywood lambasting conservatism isn’t exactly anything new, but sometimes we need people like Meryl Streep—someone larger than life that we surely do not deserve—to buckle down, and give us an eloquent, urgent, and political AF reminder of what’s worth fighting for.