Skip to main content

Meryl Streep vs. Trump at the Golden Globes

Claire Foy, Tracee Ellis Ross, and Meryl Streep all offered messages of hope for those threatened by the upcoming presidential administration.
Meryl Streep accepts the Cecil B. DeMille Award during the Golden Globe Awards on January 8th, 2017.

Meryl Streep accepts the Cecil B. DeMille Award during the Golden Globe Awards on January 8th, 2017.

Though they’re best known as the more-frivolous (and boozier) alternative to the Oscars, this year’s Golden Globes got off to a political start on Sunday night when host Jimmy Fallon introduced the show with a jab at Donald Trump. “This is the Golden Globes, one of the few places left where America still honors the popular vote,” he quipped early in his opening monologue. (Later, he compared the president-elect to Game of Thrones’ Prince Joffrey.)

Fallon’s remark isn’t entirely true—Hollywood stars have previously suggested the Golden Globes’ voting body, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, has accepted studio bribes for nominations and even awards—but the jibe was characteristic of how the ceremony’s presenters framed the 2017 awards. Sure, a romantic musical (La La Land) that some journalists have called an antidote to Trump’s campaign rhetoric and sinking post-election popularity won the evening with seven wins, a Golden Globes record. But even before the La La Land sweep was tallied, several of this year’s speeches celebrated 2016’s film output as a rejoinder to the president-elect’s anti-media and nationalist rhetoric.

Not always directly: As MarketWatch writer Mike Murphy put it on Monday, some of “the most pointed comments against Trump didn’t even mention his name.” Mid-evening, actress Claire Foy championed a group Trump’s cabinet lacks—women—in her acceptance speech for best actress in television drama The Crown: “I think the world could do with a few more women at the center of it, if you ask me,” she said. Black-ish’s Tracee Ellis Ross dedicated her best actress in a comedy series award to women of color, a group particularly threatened by the Trump administration’s childcare and health-care policies: “This is for all the women, women of color, and colorful people, whose stories, ideas, and thoughts are not always considered worthy and valid and important,” she said.

Later on, Trump’s xenophobic campaign remarks also got a mention. One director of the best animated film winner, Zootopia, called his film a lesson for adults to embrace diversity “even when there are people in the world who want to divide us by using fear.” Presenters championed the HFPA itself for its international outreach amid that growing nationalist sentiment: Best actress for a dramatic film winner Isabelle Huppert told attendees, “Do not expect cinema to set up walls and borders”; Hugh Laurie joked that this might be the last-ever Golden Globes: “I don’t meant to be gloomy, it’s just that it has the words Hollywood, foreign, and press in the title,” he said as he accepted his best supporting actor for a limited series award.

That kind of political speech is fairly common during awards season—but the best speech of the night went further, urging those in attendance to combat the incoming administration by reaching outwards, instead of looking inwards. Accepting the Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement, Meryl Streep said that Trump’s mocking of a disabled New York Times reporter in November had been the performance in 2016 that “kind of broke my heart.” The actress (and Hillary Clinton supporter) subsequently called for fellow actors and “the famously well-heeled Hollywood Foreign Press” to support the non-profit the Committee to Protect Journalists, not just the movie industry and its players. “We have to remind each other of the privilege and the responsibility of the act of empathy,” she told the crowd at the Beverly Hilton.

While the already-viral speech’s impact on CPJ dividends remains to be seen, it’s already ruffled the president-elect. This morning, Trump tweeted that Streep is “one of the most over-rated actresses in Hollywood”; he told the Times that he was “not surprised” that he had been criticized by “liberal movie people.” Not all movie people, though — he ended the call with the Times by saying: “We are going to have an unbelievable, perhaps record-setting turnout for the inauguration, and there will be plenty of movie and entertainment stars.”