Entertainment

Why it's time to salute Meryl Streep — our ambassador of empathy

This is her lifetime achievement: to have earned the ability to hold the world still for five minutes to say something necessary.

The background buzz at the Golden Globes fell silent as Meryl Streep delivered her stirring speech.

The Associated Press

The background buzz at the Golden Globes fell silent as Meryl Streep delivered her stirring speech.

The Show: The 2017 Golden Globe Awards (NBC/CTV)
The Moment:
Meryl Streep’s speech

There was only one moment that mattered. Accepting her lifetime achievement award, Meryl Streep stood on stage. She held notes, but she didn’t need them.

She said that everyone in Hollywood – in America – came from somewhere else. Then she cut to the quick: “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,” she said. “But there was one performance this year that stunned me ... There’s nothing good about it. But 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 and power and the capacity to fight back.” She finished by calling on everyone to support the principled press, “because we’re going to need them going forward and they’ll need us to safeguard the truth.”

Throughout the broadcast, background noise had buzzed from the bar. But now Streep’s raw voice was the only sound. You could feel the room holding its breath.

It’s impossible to do justice to how gutsy and thrilling Streep’s decision was to make this speech. Most honourees speak about their careers. Streep’s been honoured so much, she’s past that. This is her lifetime achievement: to have earned the ability to hold the world still for five minutes to say something necessary.

She showed all of us whose hearts are broken by Trumpism a way forward. Not through anger, but through truth. She’s our ambassador for empathy.

Johanna Schneller is a media connoisseur who zeroes in on pop-culture moments. She appears Monday through Thursday.

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