If Sunday’s Globes were any indication, it may be four years until we get an awards ceremony that is just about the movie business. Trump-enabler Jimmy Fallon may have been hosting the ceremony, but Donald Trump was omnipresent. Even Fallon got in on the action. But the real highlight, of course, was Streep going after Trump mocking a disabled New York Times reporter.
It was the highlight of the evening (or at least, it was up there—Viola Davis also very much brought it), a passionate argument for what Hollywood does best: making Americans empathize with others from vastly different walks of life. It was not a perfect speech—Streep’s argument that without diverse Hollywood “you’ll have nothing to watch but football and mixed martial arts” had two too many signifiers for “poor whites” in it—but it was not a lecture. And while some automatically decry any actor who talks about politics as being hectoring and out of touch, Streep’s speech could only really have been given by someone in the arts.
Of course, that didn’t stop the culture wars brigades from getting their culture wars on.
This is an even more ham-handed and transparently disingenuous version of the argument being made by the gold-leaf-and-marble man Donald Trump. The daughter of one of America’s most famous politicians and the host of a television show are siding with the ham-and-eggers over those darn out-of-touch liberals.
That’s not the only problem here, though: Streep devoted the majority of her speech to Trump’s mocking of a disabled reporter. “This instinct to humiliate, when it’s modeled by someone in the public platform, by someone powerful,” she said, “it filters down into everybody’s life, because it kind of gives permission for other people to do the same thing.” Streep identified the thing that most Americans are concerned about with a Trump presidency: His temperament and treatment of others.
“This is why Trump won” is essentially an argument that Trump voters can’t withstand anything resembling public criticism of the candidate they voted for. Yes, an often earned hatred of out-of-touch elites helped drive Trump’s victory. But coddling voters by forming a phalanx around Trump is more condescending than anything that was said at the Golden Globes.