Receiving the 2017 Cecil B. DeMille Award for Lifetime Achievement at the Golden Globes Sunday night, legendary actress Meryl Streep used her acceptance speech to express her disapproval of President-elect Donald Trump — without ever having to name him.
The star of "Florence Foster Jenkins" was visibly moved by friend Viola Davis's introduction, and also warned the audience that she was losing her voice as she intermittently read from cards.
She pointedly underscored that the evening's honorees are a diverse bunch born in many different countries. "Hollywood is crawling with outsiders and foreigners," she said, "and if you kick us all out, you’ll have nothing to watch except for football and mixed martial arts, which are not arts."
She also stressed that the performance that most caught her attention in 2016 was the one given by Trump, who she chastised for mocking a disabled reporter, saying it thereby made it okay for others to do the same.
"But there was one performance this year that stunned me — it sank its hooks in my heart, not because it was good, it was... there was nothing good about it, but it was effective and it did its job," Streep said. "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... it kind of broke my heart when I saw it, and I still can't get it outta my head because it wasn't in a movie, it was real life. And this instinct to humiliate when it's modeled by something in the public platform, by someone powerful, it filters down into everybody's life, 'cause it kinda gives permission for other people to do the same thing."
Leading into a direct call for support of the press, Streep continued, "Disrespect invites disrespect, violence incites violence. When the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose."
She closed her speech with an emotional mention of the late Carrie Fisher, a longtime friend, who she recalled had once told her to "take your broken heart, make it into art." Streep sang at the joint memorial service for Carrie and her mom, Debbie Reynolds.
The political nature of Streep's speech was echoed elsewhere in the show. Early in the evening, host Jimmy Fallon — criticized for his interview with Donald Trump during the election cycle — had worked a Trump zinger into his opening remarks, joking that the Golden Globes are "one of the few places left where America still honors the popular vote." Trump won the Electoral College but lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by about 2.8 million votes.
Winner Hugh Laurie's acceptance speech — which foreshadowed Streep's — noted that he was winning at "the last-ever Golden Globes. I don't mean to be gloomy, it's just that it has the words 'Hollywood,' 'foreign' and 'press' in the title, I just don't know what... I also think that to some Republicans, even the word 'assocation' is slightly sketchy." The Golden Globes are handed out by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.
After the show, President-elect Trump responded to Meryl Streep’s sentiments. According to The New York Times, Trump dismissed her as a “Hillary lover.” In a telephone interview, Trump went on to say that he was “not surprised" that he had come under attack from "liberal movie people."
Trump said he is confident that, despite the naysayers, he will have support in record numbers when he is sworn in as POTUS later this month. “We are going to have an unbelievable, perhaps record-setting turnout for the inauguration, and there will be plenty of movie and entertainment stars,” Trump said. “All the dress shops are sold out in Washington. It’s hard to find a great dress for this inauguration.”
Hours after his phone interview, Trump tweeted, "Meryl Streep, one of the most over-rated actresses in Hollywood, doesn't know me but attacked last night at the Golden Globes. She is a....."
In contrast to Trump's response, Streep's speech was immediately praised by presenter Ben Affleck, was well-received in the room and quickly became a flashpoint on social media:
Well said. #MerylStreep— Nolan Gould (@Nolan_Gould) January 9, 2017
How DARE Meryl exercise her right to free speech like that's a thing we are allowed to do here in Ameri- wait...hmm. #MerylStreep— shonda rhimes (@shondarhimes) January 9, 2017
We will need a lot of people as clear and brave as Meryl Streep if we are to fight the corruption, bad ideas and lies of Donald Trump.— Judd Apatow (@JuddApatow) January 9, 2017
My jaw is on the floor. Thank you, Meryl Streep, you gave the speech that needed to be given. #GoldenGlobes— Sarah Kate Ellis (@sarahkateellis) January 9, 2017
First of all, #Meryl— Rachel Dratch (@TheRealDratch) January 9, 2017
She has never been more graceful than tonight, nearly w/out voice, her voice has never been so strong. TY Meryl Streep. #GoldenGlobes— Sharon Stone (@sharonstone) January 9, 2017
I can't believe Meryl Streep used this pure artistic event as a platform to push her anti-Mixed Martial Arts agenda.— Ronan Farrow (@RonanFarrow) January 9, 2017
There has never been anyone like Meryl Streep. I love her. #GoldenGlobes— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) January 9, 2017
Meryl Streep changes the world by waking us up with a kiss on the forehead— Sarah Silverman (@SarahKSilverman) January 9, 2017
God Bless you Meryl Streep!— Andy Cohen (@Andy) January 9, 2017
My favorite part of Meryl Streep's speech is that she never even spoke his name. #GoldenGlobes— Justin Mikita (@JustinMikita) January 9, 2017
Meryl Streep giving an epic and powerful speech at the #GoldenGlobes. 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻— Jesse Tyler Ferguson (@jessetyler) January 9, 2017
Meryl, you give me life. #GoldenGlobes— Gina Rodriguez (@HereIsGina) January 9, 2017
A true inspiration. Meryl, you beautiful soul. Thank you for using your voice to empower. #GoldenGlobes— Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano) January 9, 2017
At the Golden Globes Awards, the great Meryl Streep, spoke of Trump's unconcionable behavior in mocking a man who suffered from Bell's Palsy— carl reiner (@carlreiner) January 9, 2017
Meryl seems to have won the night's news cycle. https://t.co/GYNM4f75BT— Joy Reid (@JoyAnnReid) January 9, 2017
This is exactly why Hwood is DYING, what a bunch of hypocrites. Sex, violence, and drivel rule hwood. Turning the channel. https://t.co/jZVRviw7jw— Sean Hannity (@seanhannity) January 9, 2017
I HAVE NEVER LOVED MERYL MORE. BRAVO. WELL SAID.— Emmy Rossum (@emmyrossum) January 9, 2017
Merryl Streep is amazing— Debbie Allen (@msdebbieallen) January 9, 2017
Bravo! Show Hollywood the way ❤
thank you meryl— darren aronofsky (@DarrenAronofsky) January 9, 2017
Didn't think it was possible to dislike Trump any more than I already do, until he called Meryl Streep "overrated"...— Greyson Chance (@greysonchance) January 9, 2017