Accepting the Cecil B. DeMille Award tonight, 8-time Golden Globe Award winner Meryl Streep spoke quietly but passionately about “the one performance this year that stunned me, sank its hooks into my heart.” Her voice quivering and grainy with laryngitis, Streep nonetheless described president-elect Donald J. Trump’s campaign low-point when he imitated New York Times reporter Serge Kovalevski’s disability.
“It kind of broke my heart when I saw it and I still can’t get it out my head because it wasn’t in a movie, it was real life,” she said of that moment, casting a different perspective on the incoming White House occupant, who had been, until Streep’s emotion-filled speech, mainly the butt of lame jokes. “This instinct to humiliate,” she continued, “kind of gives permission” and “incites disrespect…We need the principled press to hold power to account, to call him out on the carpet for every outrage.”
Addressing the members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association specifically as journalists, Streep called on them to support the Committee to Protect Journalists, one of the most effective press watchdog groups.
Streep, a nominee tonight — her 30th — for Florence Foster Jenkins, was introduced by her co-star from Doubt and another winner tonight, Viola Davis, who repeatedly — and with her own great passion — “Dame Streep.” And Streep began her acceptance of the award by noting that pretty much everyone in Hollywood is an outsider from somewhere else and thus, as Hugh Laurie said earlier in the evening, posed a threat to the incoming President “Hollywood is crawling with outsiders,” she said. “And if you kick ’em all out, all you’ll have left is football and mixed martial arts, which are not the arts.”
Dame Streep concluded by quoting Tommy Lee Jones, who once said to her, “Isn’t it such a privilege, Meryl, just to be an actor?” With this speech, Streep made it both a privilege and a calling, resounding and heard. And then she quoted “my friend the dear departed Princess Leia,” who told her: “Take your broken heart, make it into art.”