01.09.2017
  • United States

Against Meryl Streep

  • Eileen Jones

Meryl Streep’s speechifying at the Golden Globes was the worst thing to happen since Trump’s election.

Meryl Streep at the 1989 Academy Awards. Alan Light / Flickr

That I should live to see the day when Meryl Streep’s speechifying at a Hollywood awards show is admired as solemnly and discussed as fervently as Lincoln’s second inaugural address is a personal nightmare. Lectured by Streep! And about how her and all her Hollywood pals, decked out in everything that costs the earth and sparkles in the spotlight, are among the true victims of Donald Trump’s American authoritarianism!

In Streep’s view, it seems, cultural war has been declared on Hollywood’s liberal elite, which is “full of foreigners,” she notes, and therefore doubly vulnerable.

Yes, Trump is bad for movie stars everywhere, and Streep is truly “heartbroken” by this. Therefore, she brought to the Golden Globes all the fiery rhetoric she used to play Margaret Thatcher in a recent admiring biopic, and to stump for Hillary Clinton on behalf of a cheering faux-feminist “pantsuit nation.”

I may have to take today off work, just to recover from this latest onslaught of Streepian solipsism embraced by the world as the height of Hollywood ethics, which is just the best ethics of all. The way she condemned the “performance” of Donald Trump when he mocked disabled New York Times reporter Serge Kovaleski, as if Trump were up for a rival Golden Globes Award and had disgraced the Screen Actors Guild, was truly righteous, wasn’t it? She’s so classy, isn’t she?

And classy is the word for it, all right. Ever since the 1980s, Streep has been Hollywood’s imperious snob-appeaser, paraded around as a rebuttal to all those who claim the American film industry generates nothing but lowbrow entertainment for the masses. Just look at all those high-toned roles, and the rave reviews of besotted critics, and the shelves upon shelves of Academy Awards!

If it must be admitted that Hollywood can only hire the classiest performers, the titled ones from England, like Dame Judy Dench and Sir Ian McKellen, nevertheless Americans can always point with pride to Meryl Streep, our very own homegrown acting royalty with as snooty an accent as any of them!

If I seem bitter, it’s because I was raised on this Streep, and she has haunted my life with her high-and-mighty blonde heft and Yale Drama School ways.  As an undergraduate, I was one of only two people in America who hated her, hated her with a passion. The other one was my best friend Sue, and we were united in our loathing. Sue, who studied acting at a mere state school, did a wonderful impression of early Streep performances, full of distractingly big “acting choices” that could be seen from space. We called Streep “the world’s most famous acting student.”

For we were angry working-class girls, see, and Streep’s privilege seemed to roll off her in waves. Technically, Streep comes from the middle class, but by the time she appeared in films, any regular Jersey Girl crudities had been planed away, and she was all golden hauteur. The tilt of her jaw, the lift of her nose like something out of an old portrait representing aristocratic Anglo-German inbreeding, the toss of that shiny blonde mane, overawed everyone.

Even we had to admit, eventually, that Streep was a good actor, if only to keep our citizenship. But I’ve never been entirely sure if she really is, or if we’re all just cowed by the intoxicating aura of classiness that hangs around her.

In America, classiness will get you everywhere, and there’s no better demonstration of it than the teary-eyed adoration generated by every move Streep makes. She strikes me as about the worst possible spokesperson imaginable for the Left in an era of working-class rage, so naturally she’s embraced even more tightly by liberals doubling down on their delusional Clinton Democrat worship.

In the renewal of my Streep hatred, I’d say that the only upside to the American fixation on classiness over class is that, apparently, the end result is it’s bad for movie stars everywhere. That includes poor suffering Meryl Streep. May she have many sleepless nights in her golden bower somewhere far above us all!