Actress Meryl Streep likely set the stage for a very political Academy Award ceremony Sunday night when she accepted a lifetime achievement award at the Golden Globes in January. Now the question is, will President Donald Trump be watching what is likely to be a four-hour verbal pounding of his person and policies?
Streep indirectly panned Trump’s immigration policies as she warned about kicking out people from diverse backgrounds out of the country. She also delivered a scorching indictment against Trump without naming him when she knocked the moment during the campaign 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.”
Trump took to Twitter the next day. He berated Streep as “one of the most over-rated actresses in Hollywood” and denied his intent was to mock New York Times reporter Serge Kovaleski’s disability (even though that’s how it appeared).
Trump did not challenge Streep on what is perhaps Hollywood’s most annoying conceit — the precious notion that those who work in La-La Land take political stands that require inordinate courage and character. “All of us in this room, really, belong to the most vilified segments in American society right now,” Streep said, as if she believed it.
I can only say that that if having extravagant award ceremonies, staff to shield you from an adoring public and all the other perks of celebrity signify being “vilified,” bring it on.
As for the empathy and ability to live in other people’s skin which Streep hailed as hallmarks of her profession, those traits were lacking when Streep gave the back of her hand to Middle America.
“Hollywood is crawling with outsiders and foreigners,” she said. “If you kick ’em all out, you’ll have nothing to watch but football and mixed martial arts, which are not the arts.”
(You don’t get the feeling that Streep’s take on Trump and his supporters is tinged with a sense of self-superiority and entitlement, do you, artless Chow Yun-Fat fan?)
Left-leaning lectures have haunted the Oscars since 1973, when Marlon Brando, who won best actor for his role in “The Godfather,” dispatched Sacheen Littlefeather to the stage with a statement about the entertainment industry’s treatment of American Indians. At least Brando was holding up standards for his own industry — not everyone else.
Rather than prop up Brando as an exemplar of courage even to the point where he risked his amazing career, Hollywood shrugged off the episode as sorry evidence of Brando’s growing eccentricity.
It’s more common these days for liberal award winners to hail in an orgy of self-congratulation the bravery of like-minded entertainers who criticize conservatives. Oh, the courage they show. At the 2013 Golden Globes, Jay Roach, executive producer of HBO’s “Game Change,” saluted the bravery of Julianne Moore for playing one of the left’s favorite pincushions, Sarah Palin.
When George W. Bush was president, the occasional Oscar recipient railed against the war in Iraq. When Barack Obama assumed office, U.S. troops still served in Iraq, but the anti-war chants met a mute button.
Robert Davi, who showed up at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland last week, is the rare conservative actor in Hollywood. He wrote a cheeky piece on Breitbart in which he proposed that Streep, Chelsea Handler, Richard Gere, Robert DeNiro and other liberal scolds “do away with the rules, barriers, and tickets” and invite all immigrants — be they legal, undocumented, convicted criminals and/or unvetted — to the Oscars and the after-parties.
What a kidder.
Given the overwhelming liberal bent of the entertainment community, more political lectures from the Oscar stage seem inevitable. Again, the question is: Will Trump be watching on Sunday night?
I asked spokesman Sean Spicer at Wednesday’s press briefing. He answered, “I think the president will be hosting the Governors Ball that night. Mrs. Trump looks forward to putting on a phenomenal event, and the first lady has put a lot of time into this event that’s going to occur in welcoming our nation’s governors to the capital.”
Spicer did not say that the president would not record the awards ceremony, or troll through the internet to see what the glitterati had to say about him. How will Trump react if there is a Meryl Streep moment? Spicer did not answer that part of my question. That may well be because he, like Trump, and his handlers, cannot be sure.