In view of what follows, I should say that I disagree with Donald Trump about Meryl Streep being “overrated.” From the “Holocaust” TV miniseries in 1978, through her 19 Oscar nominations and three wins, she has become, on film, a national treasure.
At Sunday night’s Golden Globes microphone, not so much.
I could not care less about her politics or the views of all of the actors and musicians whose work I consume. But if they take a particular pleasure in spewing derisive venom at every American who shares my views, then, as the saying goes, silence is complicity.
Wait, you may say, her remarks were reserved only for Donald Trump. No sale. In a tirade as filled with malice and slander as her Globes speech, the message is clear: no decent human being could have voted for a monster such as she described.
But what she described was a work of fiction as craftily concocted as “Ricki and the Flash” or “The Devil Wears Prada.” Except in her case, the devil wears Brioni suits and red ties.
Let’s review. After describing an impressive cross-section of actors of a variety of races and national origins, she cobbled together this gem: “If we kick them all out, you’ll have nothing to watch but football and mixed martial arts, which are not the arts!”
Last time I checked, Donald Trump was not planning to deport any of the bejeweled millionaires in the crowd. This colossal straw man is as telling as the clumsy attack on two forms of entertainment that are currently a far bigger deal than she is.
This ham-handed outburst, a textbook example of why Hollywood is so widely reviled, showed how low the pop-culture left will go to demonize Americans who oppose their views.
In her characterization of Trump as mocking a disabled reporter, she is merely presumptuous. Evidence abounds of the president-elect using the same gestures to refer to many people flustered in a variety of settings from Ted Cruz to Donna Brazile to himself.
But in describing that misunderstood moment as making “its intended audience laugh and show their teeth,” which “sank a hook in my heart,” she makes clear the object of her derision. It is you, if you were a Trump voter. It is me. It is 63 million people.
So how are we to react to such rank political bigotry, this obvious characterization of our next president – and his voters – as racists, xenophobes and bullies?
We can cancel our plans to catch “Florence Foster Jenkins,” I suppose. Maybe it sparks the urge to tell all the actors to just shut up and make movies.
You’ll never hear that from me. I want all of Hollywood to show us exactly who they are, what they think and whom they despise. First of all, it is their right. But it is also of great benefit. Clarity is always useful, no matter what we learn.
And there is much to learn from this latest in a long series of insults from the preening ranks of Hollywood privilege. On one level, perhaps it is worthy to note that a woman (and an entire room) that applauded child rapist Roman Polanski for a 2003 directorial Oscar does not have much of a foundation for lecturing other people about much of anything.
But a larger truth is that there is nothing about making movies or music or playing a sport or any other platform of fame that makes anyone’s opinions any more worthy. Or any less. So from actresses to plumbers to doctors to burger flippers to columnists, let everyone speak freely, and be judged by what they actually say.
And no matter from whom it may have come, that Sunday night rant was a wave of hateful condescension that added to the spectacle of sore losers incapable of coping with a White House that will no longer be an echo chamber for their views.
Mark Davis is a radio host in North Texas. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.