Our article writer Olivia Church shares her thoughts on topics from foreigners to film: did Streep miss her mark with her Golden Globes speech?

Walking up the steps to receive her award, actress Meryl Streep made not only a speech of thankfulness but what may now be considered as a historic speech at the 2017 Golden Globes: ‘Disrespect invites disrespect, violence incites violence’. She was referring to, of course, the doings of then President Elect Donald Trump, who despite his behaviour and questionable attitudes throughout the election period, became one of the most powerful men in the world on Friday 20th August.

Streep Speech Illustration 3

The speech itself was heartfelt and passionate and for once, was not an act. Her words were largely well received by her Hollywood peers as well as public and it was perhaps, to a degree, a chance for someone to say what we were all thinking. This was opportunity for us to prepare for change whether we liked it or not. Streep is highly regarded in her field anyway and celebrities like her often use their position to highlight ongoing problems today – she even made her support for Hillary Clinton known throughout the chaotic months of campaigning. Her power seemed to come from pain, which sounds like a piece of acting direction from Steven Speilberg, but it nonetheless carried the speech forward and created strong foundations. She was able to remove barriers that had been put up many months before and instead remind people of their importance and contribution in American society.

There is disputably a flip-side to Streep’s motives: was she right to use one the most prestigious awards ceremony on the film’s industry’s calendar as an opportunity to cast her political views? Arguably Streep may have misinterpreted the atmosphere that event and instead of choosing to celebrate film and everyone who worked so hard to make this medium so respected, Streep took the opportunity to voice her concerns about the current state of American politics. Knowing that the Golden Globes would be a televised media hot spot and social media is only a few mouse clicks or finger taps away, Streep’s profile would have been boosted more than ever and make her the talk of the town, shifting the political climate once more. Knowing Streep, she may shrug her shoulders with a ‘let ‘em talk’ kind of ease, but her actions could have surely repelled some people – badly timed shots of other glum looking actors and actresses interspersed throughout Streep’s monologue wouldn’t have helped either. The thought of another celebrity telling us what we should and should not be doing is bound to make some heads turn in the other direction.

Streep Speech Main Illustration2

It should be noted, however, that a lot of Streep’s points do, in fact, ring true to students this university. I hope people feel fortunate to be in a safe university environment where diversity is celebrated and no one is demanding to see your birth certificate. Personally, I have noticed in my time here that simply because one person may study a certain subject does not mean you cannot cross into another discipline or even collaborate with other students to enrich the quality and creativity in your work. Similarly, with Streep, her job title does not mean that she does not have the intellectual capacity to talk about a subject a world away from her own. It is her fame that makes her outlook seem undesirable to the wider audience but strip that back, there is one woman with one opinion who wants to express it to the people around her. I can’t help but feel that ultimately movies have socio-political contexts and themes that continue to spoil our world today. Streep admitted that what she witnessed was not in a movie but was in real life and while film may not be real life, film is a representation of a reality told by people like Streep who want to want to preserve the truth as much as possible.

Words and Illustrations by Olivia Church