TV

Watch Meryl Streep’s Huge, Mournful Speech Against Donald Trump At The Golden Globes

"Disrespect invites disrespect. Violence incites violence. When the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose."

The Golden Globes have just finished up in LA and, all in all, they haven’t quite delivered the political stand many were anticipating. As this was the first awards ceremony following the US election — and a celebrity-laden campaign geared towards the opposite result — it would make sense to see people using their platform for commentary.

Instead the first half of the ceremony just saw a couple of stone-faced Trump jokes from Hugh Laurie and a half-hearted swipe from Jimmy Fallon. (It didn’t go down well for some reason).

Thankfully things changed dramatically when Meryl Streep took the stage. In accepting the Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement, Streep began a quiet roll call of the many actors in the room who were born overseas or raised in difficult circumstances. She sketched a portrait of a diverse Hollywood who had dedicated their lives to understanding and portraying others.

“An actor’s only job is to enter the lives of people who are different from us, and let you feel what that feels like,” she said before turning things back on Trump. “There were many many powerful performances this year that did that — breathtaking, compassionate work. But there was one performance this year that stunned me; it sunk 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.”

Speaking of the moment back in November 2015 when Donald Trump mocked NY Times reporter Serge Kovaleski, Streep went on to condemn the President-elect’s callousness and revealed its toxicity in American culture.

“This instinct to humiliate, when it’s modelled by someone in the public with a platform, it kind of filters down into everyone’s life,” she said. “It gives permission for other people to do the same thing. Disrespect invites disrespect. Violence incites violence. When the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose.”

Before leaving, Streep tearfully quoted her friend Carrie Fisher: “take your broken heart; make it into art”.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the speech received enormous praise both in the room and online since. In fact, these two might be the only ones not so keen. No big loss.

Read the full speech here:

Thank you Hollywood Foreign Press — just to pick up on what Hugh Laurie said — you and all of us in this room, belong to the most vilified segments of American society right now. Think about it. Hollywood. Foreigners. And the press.

But, who are we and what is Hollywood anyway? It’s just a bunch of people from different places. I was born and raised and educated in public schools in New Jersey. Viola was born in a sharecroppers cabin in South Carolina and came up in Central Falls, Rhode Island. Sarah Paulson was born in Flordia, raised by a single mum in Brooklyn. Sarah Jessica Parker was one of seven or eight kids from Ohio. Amy Adams was born in Vicenco, Veneta, Italy. And Natalie Portman was born in Jerusalem. Where are their birth certificates?

The beautiful Ruth Negga was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, raised in Ireland, and she’s here nominated for playing a small town girl in Virginia. Ryan Gosling, like all the nicest people, is Canadian. And Dev Patel was born in Kenya, raised in London, and is here playing an Indian raised in Tasmania. Hollywood is crawling with outsiders and foreigners, and if we kick ’em all out, you’ll have nothing to watch but football and mixed martial arts — which is not the arts.

An actor’s only job is to enter the lives of people who are different from us, and let you feel what that feels like. There were many many powerful performances this year that did that — breathtaking, compassionate work. But there was one performance this year that stunned me; it sunk 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. I can’t believe it wasn’t in a movie — it was real life. This instinct to humiliate, when it’s modelled by someone in the public with a platform, it kind of filters down into everyone’s life. It gives permission for other people to do the same thing. Disrespect invites disrespect. Violence incites violence. 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-held 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.

One more thing: once when I was standing around on the set one day — whining about something, we were going to work through supper or something — Tommy Lee Jones said to me isn’t it such a privilege, Meryl, just to be an actor. Yeah, it is. And we have to remind each other of the privilege and the responsibility, and the act of empathy. We should all be very proud of the work Hollywood honours here tonight.

As my friend, the dear departed Princess Leia said, “take your broken heart; make it into art”.

Read more news from today’s Golden Globes including the day’s winners here.