Twelve days before Donald Trump is sworn in as the 45th President of the United States, Meryl Streep gave what would have been the best political speech of the White House race cycle, except it was delivered exactly two months after Trump was elected, as she accepted the Cecil B. DeMille Award at the Golden Globes.
“There was one performance this year that stunned me, sank 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,” Streep said, quietly. “I’ve lost my voice in screaming and lamentation this weekend,” she explained.
With 12 days to go before the Trumpocalypse, the Golden Globes show was thick with digs at the incoming administration.
Hugh Laurie, who plays an evil, wealthy businessman/arms dealer in AMC’s The Night Manager, accepted his trophy “on behalf of psychopathic billionaires everywhere.” Laurie, named for best performance by an actor in a supporting role in a series, limited series or motion picture for television, thanked the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, saying, “This is an amazing win, made all the more amazing in that I’ll be able to say I won this at the last-ever Golden Globe Awards. I don’t mean to be gloomy, but it has the words ‘Hollywood,’ ‘foreign,’ and ‘press’ in the title. I also think that to some Republicans, the word ‘Association’ is slightly sketchy.
Zootopia producers, accepting the award for best animated movie, explained they wanted the movie to be a film that entertained kids and “also spoke to adults about embracing diversity even when there were people in the world who wanted to divide us by using fear.”
Donald Glover, accepting FX series Atlanta’s Globe for best TV series musical or comedy, said he wanted to thank “Atlanta and all the black folks in Atlanta just for being alive.”
And Nina Jacobson, accepting The People v. OJ. Simpson: American Crime Story trophy for best TV limited series or motion picture for television, explained, “The trial of O.J. Simpson turned tragedy into entertainment, reminding us American justice is anything but blind when race, celebrity and gender are involved,” adding, “When working on the show we had no idea how painfully relevant those themes would be in 2016.”
But Streep’s full-throated political speech was the talker of the night. Trump’s rally speech, at which he mocked a physically challenged New York Times reporter, “kind of broke my heart that I saw it, and still can’t get it out of my head because it wasn’t in a movie. It was real life,” said Streep, who also had spoken, though not so powerfully, during the Democratic National Convention. “And this instinct to humiliate when it’s modeled by… someone powerful, filters down in to everyone’s life because 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.”
Picking up on Laurie’s remarks, noting the room was filed with “the most vilified segment of American society now. But who are we, and what is Hollywood anyway? Just a bunch of people from different places.” Then she’d ticked off the hometowns and countries of various actors in the ballroom, including “Ryan Gosling, like all the nicest people, is Canadian. Dev Patel was born in Kenya, raised in London, is here playing an Indian raised in Tasmania.” And so on.
“So Hollywood is crawling with outsiders, and foreigners. And if you kick them all out, you’ll have nothing to watch but football and mixed martial arts, which are not the arts.”
As it turned out, even the evening’s organizational basics contained a political edge, courtesy of President Obama. The outgoing President wrote a letter to attendees and nominees of the ceremony, which was included in the program handed out to the audience at the awards ceremony.
“Tonight’s nominees have devoted their talents to helping us celebrate our triumphs and illustrate our flaws,” the letter said in part. “By enabling us to see ourselves in each other and creating a space for the many narratives that reflect our rich and collective history, they remind us of the power of our voices and ideas and the ways they can shape our world for the better.”