Why Meryl Streep’s Real Message Has Fallen On Deaf Ears

Features Editor
01.09.17 59 Comments

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People often have a view of celebrities as overprivileged and out-of-touch with the issues facing “real America.” Many regard these vocal (and often liberal) celebrities as tourists who visit the real world when they want to give their public image a boost or make their heart feel full for all the wisdom, guidance, and help they offer to the little people.

It’s not that they’re bad people, though some probably toss them into that basket as well. But while those hearts may be in the right place, their feet aren’t typically near the mud, gravel, and quicksand that a lot of people find themselves standing on. So you can understand the “outsider” label.

Meryl Streep recognized the existence of that disconnect and tried to address it when she delivered a lengthy message in defense of Hollywood, people born outside the United States, and the press — three segments of the population that have come under fire from President-elect Donald Trump and his acolytes — during the Golden Globes.

With passion, Streep rightly pointed out that “Hollywood” (like America, of course) is a cultural melting pot and that it is filled with people who do good work and put a lot of themselves into it. Hollywood liberals are people (and Americans) too, was the valid point. But that message — and everything Streep said about the concerning example Donald Trump has set and the need to resist the pull to be disrespectful, violent, or a bully in the age of Trump — likely fell on deaf ears outside of Streep’s ideological bubble. Or rather, covered ears.

I get the why. There’s a lot of noise surrounding politics on both sides. People need to apply some kind of filter so they can get informed and get on with their lives. And as politics has become a big part of how we identify ourselves individually, it makes sense that we would tune out that which smacks against our preconceived notions.

It’s also completely understandable why we retreat to our base camp bubbles and either resist supposed enemy propaganda or reflexively attack those who put us on the defensive. But digging in our heels and putting up shields isn’t working. And the results of this war, with obstructionism, publicity stunts by way of legislation, inaction, and this one-step-forward/two-steps-back cycle (where one side switches from offense to defense every eight years) aren’t really beneficial either.

Maybe we need to actually listen to each other’s ideas and allow for the possibility that our differences aren’t always as vast as they seem (negative notions that are often reinforced by politicians and the factions within the media that serve as little more than hype men and women). Maybe.

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