Before we get into this, everyone with an opinion on this matter should watch Meryl Streep’s speech first, this way we’re all on the same page as to what was actually said.
Kellyanne Conway continued pricing out her soul this morning, crafting a new straw man to use against Streep.
There are horrors that befall the mentally challenged on a daily basis in this country which refuses to provide adequate resources to help them, and following Conway's line of reasoning allows you to pluck any example out of the air to use against Streep—albeit, none that match up as well with their race-baiting politics. But Conway is merely the cable news face of our Troll-in-Chief, so she is simply doing her job. What was much more dismaying was the near-universal response from conservative commentators that Streep's speech is “how we got Trump.”
The Democratic establishment's obsession with celebrity endorsements over votes from middle America is one of the left's main contributions as to how we elected Donald Trump. Lena Dunham joking about wanting to get an abortion just for the experience is a prime example of this disconnect that was highlighted at the ballot box in November.
I get it—Hollywood should not lecture everyday Americans on what values we should hold dear, given that Meryl Streep is just one of several actresses over the age of 40 with regular work. Hollywood is more segregated than our society, as blockbuster roles largely only go to white men, and our obsession with terrorism and our anti-Muslim bias can be attributed to their scripts as much as anything else. Hell, 24 was basically one long infomercial for torture.
However, this was not one of those tone-deaf lectures about liberal values in America.
It’s hard to see these conservatives viewpoints as anything other than: if you’re in Hollywood, you’re not allowed to talk about the country you live in. It’s the “stick to sports” nonsense, but for actors. If this is really how they view the world, then I hope that Meghan McCain, Seth Mandel, and Ben Shapiro only speak publicly about politics and nothing more, lest they lose their intellectual consistency on this subject.
There was one portion of her speech which could have been interpreted as condescending, but I would argue that it was mostly a play on words, and the audience’s reaction was what made it seem patronizing: “and we’ll have nothing to watch but football and mixed martial arts, which are not the arts!”
This next line was the seminal moment for me; one that every single American should be able to agree upon, given that our country was created as a bulwark against the tyranny of the rich and powerful.
“And this instinct to humiliate when it’s modeled by someone in the public platform—by someone powerful, it filters down into everybody’s life, cuz it kind of gives permission for other people to do the same thing. Disrespect invites disrespect. Violence incites violence. When the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose.”
Again, what is so offensive about this statement? She’s not saying that the “deplorables” are inciting violence and hatred, but that a powerful man is enabling that behavior in all of us. She is not singling out “flyover country” for not understanding “liberal” values, but attacking a clearly vindictive and petty man for words and actions which reflect that character and have brought out the worst in us.
Truthfully, the massive overreaction to a fairly simple speech reflects a built-in defensiveness and apprehension about conservatives place in 21st century America. This collective freak out demonstrates their alienation from society, as criticisms levied against Trumpism are seen as an attack on individual voters who are truly suffering. This alienation has been exacerbated by Hollywood and the media, as a liberal bias exists mainly because liberals largely staff Hollywood and media ranks. It’s not some complex conspiracy, but more just a fact of life. Everyone has bias.
However, conservatives have to own a majority of their feeling of alienation. In response to a slightly biased liberal media, they retreated to conservative propaganda which preys on the weak, angry, and uninformed. This infotainment complex has grown so big that it has largely created another universe inside our own, and it’s difficult to see how its most ardent supporters can ever be dragged back to reality. They surround themselves with grievances, and one look at the majority of timelines like Mandel’s or McCain’s shows a litany of offenses they claim to experience on a daily basis.
On the whole, Hollywood is largely tone-deaf, and should mostly refrain from lecturing us on politics, but that doesn’t mean they should stay out of it altogether, and I think we can all agree that this is a pretty big political moment. These people are still American citizens. They vote. They pay taxes. They send their kids to public schools. They are part of our society, for better or for worse. I guarantee that if Mitt Romney had made the EXACT same speech, the outrage from the conservative corners of the internet would be much more muted (and other than the shot at football and MMA, these words very well could have been his).
“Otherizing” cuts both ways, and if conservatives continue to maintain that an industry which is America’s largest cultural exporter has no right to comment on our culture, then they will do more work to alienate themselves from the rest of us than the Lena Dunham’s of the world ever will.