Two nights ago I was on Facebook and Meryl Streep was breaking the internet. I don’t own a television so I was unaware of what the hype was about. Someone pointed out that Meryl gave a heartfelt clap back to the Pres-Elect. Someone else pointed out she allied herself with masses, and one last accolade praised her for mentioning Central Falls.
Before seeing the speech I posted a “presponse” (poetic license), questioning if we forgave her for her stance on sporting a t-shirt adorning the words, “I’d rather be a rebel than a slave,” in promotion of her movie about the suffragette movement, during the time when the south was burning in debate about rebel flags flying over government buildings. Her stance was an unapologetic double-down on the position, saying that it was in support of the movie, not even acknowledging it being socially irresponsible and just bad timing. But as I did in my original post, I digress.
So I watched the speech because, of course, someone uploaded it within minutes of her making it. I was greatly underwhelmed. People said she was making herself an ally, but I found she was allying herself with other actors. People said she was coming to “our“ defense, but I saw her coming to the defense of the press and making a weak attempt and connecting herself to “foreigners.” People said it was heartfelt, but I question, to whom? And I even read a comment that said, “She risks being blacklisted.” C’mon really? Hollywood is going to blacklist Meryl Streep?
So here is where I would give her praise if I was to do it. Meryl Streep used her privilege to platform her beliefs. She used her privilege to call upon the press to safeguard the truth. She stood up against the establishment and broke the rules as far as speech constraints are concerned to call out the Pres-Elect. She led a “call to arms for other actors to do the same and not allow our president to bully the entertainment and press industry.” For that I applaud Meryl Streep. But then there is what’s NOT being said, and that actually speaks volumes.
There is a verse in the Quran that goes something to the effect of, “It is better to leave someone on their path then to lead them to yours,” and it goes on to mention something about it may not work for them and their folly becoming yours to fault. Meryl Streep reached out. I admit being jaded to well-put-together words performed behind a shaky voice that almost sounds like holding back tears. I have had this conversation with poets about other poets who can get on stage and command that quality at their discretion to win a poetry slam, so I have my own thoughts. I know she said she lost her voice, but you have to admit it added to the theater of her words. I also have been reading a lot lately about forgiveness and how it’s too easily given (which is actually the pure definition) to people who transgress racial barriers in word and deed, by those who bear the transgression. I have a lot of reasons to look at those words with crossed eyes, but I have no reason to take away everyone else’s celebration. My sister told me once, “I had to learn that when people are talking, I have to ask myself: Are they asking for an opinion or just need to be heard?” So I have an opinion on the speech. If people found it moving, I should not take away their joy or their reason to smile. If she moved someone to be better, I should keep my mouth shut. I could be taking someone who found a right path to a path of folly, and that folly becomes mine.
But at the end of the day, to quote a Facebook friend, Jacob Richman, “My white friends this morning are all like, ‘OMGs Meryl Streep #peerless! #peerless!’ My black friends this morning are all like, ‘Mmmmmeeeehhhhh.’ I didn’t watch the GG, but Moonlight is still playing at Cable Car Cinema and Cafe at 3:30 til Thursday. Who else is un/underemployed and wants to go with me? They sell beer there and you sit on couches!!!!”