The Most Important Moment Of The Golden Globes 2017 - A Transcript
You're probably aware by now of what made this year's Golden Globes a big deal. Capping off a Golden Globes ceremony full of moderately memorable moments (Tracee Ellis Ross' win was a brilliant moment, though), and almost a year after her dreadful faux pas at Berlinale 2016, Meryl Streep took the stage to remind the audience of the importance of actors, diversity and the press. And then she made that series of statements about Donald Trump that got audiences worldwide woke, and earned the sort of response from him that was as crass as it was predictable.
It's easy to forget that Streep was on stage to accept the Cecil B. DeMille Award, which was presented to her by Viola Davis. Davis' moving tribute to Meryl didn't make as many headlines, understandably, but it was an honest, moving, brilliantly-worded tribute from one titan to another. Viola and Meryl's words follow. The video of Meryl's speech is at the end.
"She stares. That’s the first thing you notice about her. She tilts her head back with that sly, suspicious smile, and she stares for a lo-ong time.
And you think, 'Do I have something in my teeth, or does she want to kick my ass.'
Which is not gonna happen. And then she’ll ask questions.
'What did you do last night, Viola?'
Oh I cooked an apple pie.
'Did you use pippin apples?'
Pippin apples, what the hell are pippin apples? I used Granny Smith apples.
'Oh, did you make your own crust?'
No, I used store bought crust, that’s what I did.
'Then you didn’t make an apple pie, Viola.'
Well that’s because I spent all my time making my collard greens. I make the best collard greens, I use smoked turkey, chicken broth and my special barbeque sauce.
Silence. I shut her down.
'Well, they don’t taste right unless you don’t use ham hocks.'
'If you don’t use ham hocks it doesn’t taste the same.
So, how’s the family?'
And as she continues to stare you realise that she sees you. And like a high-powered scanning machine, she’s recording you. She is an observer and a thief.
She waits to share what she has stolen, on that sacred place which is the screen. She makes the most heroic characters vulnerable, the most known familiar, the most despised relatable.
Her artistry reminds us of the impact of what it means to be an artist. Which is to make us feel less alone. I can only imagine where you go, Meryl, when you disappear into a character. I imagine that you’re in them,
using yourself as a conduit,
coaxing them to release all their mess,
You are a muse. your impact encouraged me to stay in the line.
I see you. I see you.
And you know, all those rainy days we spent on the set of Doubt, every day my husband would call me at night and say, 'Did you tell her how much she means to you?' And I’d say 'Nah, I can’t say anything, Julius, I’m just nervous. All I do is stare at her, all the time.' He said, 'Well, well you need to say sum’n. You’ve been waiting all your life to work with this woman, Say sum’n.' I said 'Julius, I’ll do it tomorrow.' 'Okay, well, oh you better do it tomorrow because when I get there I’ma say something.'
Never said anything.
But I’ma say it now.
You make me proud to be an artist.
You make me feel that what I have in me, my body, my face, my age, is enough.
You encapsulate that great Emile Zola quote that if you ask me as an artist what I came into this world to do, I an artist would say I came to live out loud.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Meryl Streep."
"Thank you very much. Thank you very much. Thank you. Please sit down. Please sit down. Thank you. I love you all, but you'll have to forgive me. I've lost my voice in screaming and lamentation this weekend. And I have lost my mind sometime earlier this year. So I have to read.
Um, thank you, Hollywood foreign press. Just to pick up on what Hugh Laurie said. You, and all of us in this room, really, belong to the most vilified segments in American society right now. Think about it. Hollywood, foreigners, and the press.
<Laughter and Applause>
But who are we? And, you know, what is Hollywood anyway? It's just a bunch of people from other places.
I was born and raised and educated in the public schools of New Jersey. Viola was born in a sharecropper's cabin in South Carolina, came up in Central Falls, Rhode Island. Sarah Paulson was born in Florida, raised by a single mom in Brooklyn. Sarah Jessica Parker was one of seven or eight kids from Ohio. Amy Adams was born in Vincenzo Veneto, Italy, and Natalie Portman was born in Jerusalem. Where are their birth certificates?
And the beautiful Ruth Negga was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, raised in Lon-- no, in Ireland, I do believe. And she's here nominated for playing a small town girl from Virginia. Ryan Gosling, like all the nicest people, is Canadian. And Dev Patel was born in Kenya, raised in London, is here for playing an Indian raised in Tasmania.
So Hollywood is crawling with outsiders and foreigners, and if we kick 'em all out, you'll have nothing to watch but football and mixed martial arts, which are not the arts.
They gave me three seconds to say this.
So... 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. And there were many, many, many powerful performances this year that did exactly that, breathtaking, compassionate work.
But there was one performance this year that stunned me. It sank its hooks in my heart. Not because it was good. There was nothing good about it. But it was effective and it did its job. It made its intended audience laugh and show their teeth. It was that moment when the person asking to sit in the most respected seat in our country, imitated a disabled reporter, someone he outranked in privilege, power, and the capacity to fight back. It kind of broke my heart when I saw it, and I still can't get it out of my head because it wasn't in a movie. It was real life.
And this instinct to humiliate, when it's modelled by someone in the public platform, by someone powerful, it filters down into everybody's life, because it kind of gives permission for other people to do the same thing. Disrespect invites disrespect. Violence incites violence. When the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose.
Okay, this brings me to the press. We need the principled press to hold power to account, to call them on the carpet for every outrage.
That's why our founders enshrined the press and its freedoms in our constitution. So I only ask the famously well-heeled Hollywood Foreign Press and all of us in our community to join me in supporting the committee to protect journalists. Because we're going to need them going forward. And they'll need us to safeguard the truth.
One more thing. Once when I was standing around on the set one day, whining about something. You know, we were going to work through supper, or the long hours or whatever, Tommy Lee Jones said to me, isn't it such a privilege, Meryl, just to be an actor.
Yeah, it is. And we have to remind each other of the privilege and the responsibility of the act of empathy.
We should all be very proud of the work Hollywood honours here tonight.
As my, (pause), as my friend, the dear departed Princess Leia, said to me once, take your broken heart, make it into art. Thank you.”
Thanks to Harper's Bazaar for typing out Meryl Streep's transcript. Honestly, it would have taken too much work for me to transcribe both speeches. (I only did Viola's) Please read about the other memorable moments from the Golden Globes on their site here.