I didn’t even know they were on. Not that it matters; I wouldn’t have watched anyway. I did hear about it, though. Social media was on fire with reports about how Meryl Streep went on a political rant against President-elect Donald Trump. This is why I have such a hard time watching award shows.
Hollywood celebrities seem to think that any time they have a public platform they need to use it to express some social or political agenda. The Oscars are particularly notable for this.
As a staunch defender of the First Amendment, I don’t decry anyone’s right to have their voice heard. When it comes to Hollywood, however, I think it’s time for a change of venue. The people who make movies and television programs already have a powerful voice and an unmitigated influence over their audiences and beyond. Their movies or television programs are often used to directly or subtly convey their message.
When it comes to award shows, however, these same people lose their focus. The purpose of an awards program is to bestow honor and gratitude upon those who are the best at their craft. It’s a time to be thankful and appreciative. It is not a time or place to be pushing a personal agenda.
Streep and the thousands of others like her in Hollywood have numerous ways of expressing their personal viewpoints. An awards program should be limited to things pertinent to the award. If she wants to express her feelings about Trump, let her do it in private interviews or on news programs. She can take to social media or blog about it. Please keep it out of the award programs.
When I do make the time to watch an award show, I am interested in seeing who wins. I like when the winners talk about what the award means to them and maybe some insight about what it took to earn the award. I really don’t want to hear about their fight against social injustice. I want to be entertained, not propagandized.
Conversely, I wouldn’t want to go to a city council or school board meeting and have an elected official talk about their favorite movie or TV program. I want them to talk about the issues. If a mayor wants to express his or her viewpoint on the latest Hollywood blockbuster, there are venues other than the city council meeting to do that. Can you imagine what it would be like if Trump used his inauguration speech to criticize one of Streep’s performances? It would be totally out of place. It’s no different than Streep using her acceptance speech at the Golden Globes to criticize Trump.
Let’s keep things in perspective. There is a time and place for everything. Awards shows are not the place for politics and social agendas. Unfortunately, Hollywood doesn’t seem to understand this.
We put these people on an enormous pedestal and heap billions of dollars of cash and flow endless accolades at them. I don’t think the human ego was designed to handle that volume of attention. After a while they become too self-important and feel the need to try and make the world a better place by using the platform they have been given. They forget that they are on multiple platforms and that they do not have to pontificate from each one.
Unfortunately, celebrities have been behaving this way for so long at awards programs that it has become more of a norm than an exception. We have idolized these people to a degree that we seem to think they are wise leaders. They’re not; they’re actors and their purpose is to entertain, not lead. If they want to lead then they should do it, but in the appropriate arena. Many actors have been successful in politics, including Ronald Reagan, Clint Eastwood, Arnold Schwarzenegger and so on. They have been successful because they have been able to separate politics from entertainment. It would be nice if the Streeps of this world would learn to do the same.
Speaking of Hollywood
OK, rant over. As long as we’re talking about Hollywood, I want to bring your attention to a great movie now in theaters. I took my family the other day to see Hidden Figures. What a great film!
In all fairness, this movie is very preachy about the way blacks and women have been treated by the white male establishment. The movie, however, goes much deeper than that. It is inspiring to see that anyone can overcome anything to achieve their dreams.
Hidden Figures is the story of three black women who brought about social changes in the early days of NASA in 1961-62. They didn’t change NASA through protest but through persistence and being the best at what they do. It’s a lesson many people – and millennials in particular – need to learn. You will do a better job of changing attitudes through your actions than your words. It’s one thing to say that segregation was wrong; it’s another to prove it.
Hidden Figures also speaks to us today. It sheds light on a lot of the social injustice that has spurred the Black Lives Matter movement. It demonstrates that Hollywood can seek to address social injustice through the movies it makes and not by placing its actors on a soapbox.