Accepting the Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award from Doubt co-star Viola Davis, Streep did not hesitate to make her thoughts about Donald Trump, who will be inaugurated as president in less than two weeks, crystal clear.
She began by asking the crowd to forgive her, because she had lost her voice. “And I have lost my mind sometime earlier this year,” Streep added. Picking up where Hugh Laurie left off in his acceptance speech by saying that she and her fellow artists in the room “belong to the most vilified segments in American society right now,” exemplified by the group that hands out the Golden Globes: the Hollywood Foreign Press.
“Think about it,” Streep continued. “Hollywood, foreigners, and the press. But who are we? And, you know, what is Hollywood anyway? It’s just a bunch of people from other places.” She listed off the far-flung places that various performers in the audience come from, including Natalie Portman from Israel and Dev Patel, “born in Kenya, raised in London” who “is here for playing an Indian raised in Tasmania.”
“Hollywood is crawling with outsiders and foreigners,” she said. “And if you kick ’em all out, you’ll have nothing to watch but football and mixed martial arts, which are not the arts.”
Of all the “performances” this year, there was one that “stunned” her, that “sank its hooks” into her heart. “Not because it was good—there was nothing good about it,” Streep said. “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. I still can’t get it out of my head because it wasn’t in a movie. It was real life.” The incident Streep was referring to occurrred in November 2015, when Trump callously mock-imitated Serge Kovaleski, a New York Times reporter who suffers from the congenital condition arthrogryposis, at one of his political rallies.
This “instinct to humiliate” by then-candidate Donald Trump, she said, “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.”
As the actors in the audience began to tear up, Streep called on the “principled press to hold power to account, to call them on the carpet for every outrage.” Quoting Tommy Lee Jones, she added, “We have to remind each other of the privilege and the responsibility of the act of empathy. We should all be very proud of the work Hollywood honors here tonight.”
Finally, she conveyed a saying from her friend Carrie Fisher, who cast her as a version of herself in Postcards from the Edge: “Take your broken heart, make it into art.”
It was a message to galvanize Hollywood, who needed it now more than ever.
Donald Trump retaliated by launching a scathing Twitter attack on Streep, whom he called “over-rated”, Monday morning, in a three-part message which read: “Meryl Streep, one of the most over-rated actresses in Hollywood, doesn't know me but attacked last night at the Golden Globes. She is a Hillary flunky who lost big. For the 100th time, I never "mocked" a disabled reporter (would never do that) but simply showed him “grovelling” when he totally changed a 16 year old story that he had written in order to make me look bad. Just more very dishonest media!”