‘When the powerful use their position to bully others we all lose,’ announced Meryl Streep at last night’s Golden Globe awards. This has received the most attention today. However, it was a subsequent remark in her speech which was perhaps more telling. ‘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.’
It would seem, then, that America’s actors are not living up to Streep’s job description. Nobody wants to perform at Trump’s inauguration, and Hollywood is making no attempt to engage with or understand the 63 million voters who backed Trump. Have they even stopped to think how such a figure could be voted in as president?
No, instead they whoop and cheer. Streep’s attack on Donald Trump was seen as brave. When she claimed that Trump’s antics ‘made its intended audience laugh and show their teeth,’ her own audience chortled. Yet Streep had just flown in from President Obama’s farewell party where she had partied into the small hours with Jay-Z and Beyonce, Bradley Cooper and the Clooneys. Her remarks were breathtakingly Marie Antoniesque.
What Meryl Streep and her fans in Hollywood fail to see is that they represent an elite. They are part of an oligarchy, one which believes its views are universally popular. Yet as Trump’s election showed, this simply isn’t the case. As spoof newsreader Jonathan Pie so memorably put it after Trump’s election, ‘It is as if the political acumen of Beyonce and Jay-Z count for nothing!’
While Streep told her audience last night that ‘we have to remind each other of the privilege and responsibility of the act of empathy,’ it was obvious that Hollywood had no intention of doing so. Much better to laugh at the millions of people who voted for Trump – and show off those pearly white teeth – than try and understand why they voted for him.