Meryl Streep, Outrage Culture and the painful lessons they teach

02.18.16 1 year ago

Here”s the good news: The entertainment industry is engaging in a healthy conversation about diversity and gender roles both on camera and behind the scenes.

That”s both necessary and a long-time coming. It gets troubling, and less healthy, when the dialogue devolves into playing a game of “gotcha” with celebrities.

As the speed with which information is delivered and disseminated has increased, the care that”s taken in framing the message has devolved. That's not so much news as it is a constant source of frustration for all parties involved, and it's no one person or organization's fault. It”s just a fact of life in our current culture and something each of us likely struggles with on an individual basis.

If you work as a part of the media, it becomes a far more salient, and taxing, conundrum. For the most part, it”s my genuine belief that everyone is doing their best. Unfortunately, the rapid pace can lead to misunderstanding and misinformation.

This past week, Meryl Streep came under fire for some comments she made to the press in her capacity as the president of the 2016 Berlinale Jury.

Initially, the question of the Jury's lack of diversity arose and was directed to Streep's German colleague. That was followed by a question to Streep about gender inclusion. The actress was later asked about her interest in Arab film. During the course of that answer, Streep took a humanist perspective and said (as a part of a larger statement) “we”re all Berliners, we”re all Africans, really.”

All of that got conflated and the story became that Streep had answered a question about diversity by saying, “We”re all African” sparking the Twitter hashtag #MerylSoAfrican. You can read about the full sequence of events on Awards Daily.

Several pieces were written criticizing Streep for her privileged insensitivity and advocating for intersectional feminism.

[For those who are unfamiliar, here is a definition of the term via GeekWiki: “Intersectionality is a concept often used in critical theories to describe the ways in which oppressive institutions (racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, xenophobia, classism, etc.) are interconnected and cannot be examined separately from one another.”]

The troubling part of this series of events is how wildly misunderstood Streep's quote – and therefore her intent and meaning – was and continues to be. And just how quickly she was attacked en masse, sans context. 

The positive here is that it does open the door for a conversation about intersectionality.

In the video above, Alicia Malone, Roth Cornet, and Miri Jedeikin discuss what can be learned from Streep”s quotes and what was made of them.

You can also take a look at our full show below where we tackle the @femscriptintros phenomena and James Gunn's lessons to Hollywood.

Chat with us here or on Twitter:

Roth: @RothCornet

Miri: @MiriTheJedi

Alicia: @AliciaMalone

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