I was already working on the blog when Meryl Streep delivered her Cecil B. DeMille award speech. It was was her own opinion, something she has the right to have, but it was a textbook example if civility. Eloquent, elegant, and directed at a specific audience, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. That it was televised was inconsequential. That it was flawlessly delivered to an audience of artists and journalists was important.
Thank you very much. Thank you very much. Thank you. Please sit down. Please sit down. Thank you. I love you all. You'll have to forgive me. I've lost my voice in screaming and lamentation this weekend. And I have lost my mind sometime earlier this year. So I have to read.Thank you, Hollywood foreign press. Just to pick up on what Hugh Laurie said. You and all of us in this room, really, belong to the most vilified segments in American society right now. Think about it. Hollywood, foreigners, and the press. But who are we? And, you know, what is Hollywood anyway? It's just a bunch of people from other places.I was born and raised and created in the public schools of New Jersey. Viola [Davis] was born in a sharecropper's cabin in South Carolina, and grew up in Central falls, Long Island. Sarah Paulson was raised by a single mom in Brooklyn. Sarah Jessica Parker was one of seven or eight kids from Ohio. Amy Adams was born in Italy. Natalie Portman was born in Jerusalem. Where are their birth certificates? And the beautiful Ruth Negga was born in Ethiopia, raised in -- no, in Ireland, I do believe. And she's here nominated for playing a small town girl from Virginia. Ryan Gosling, like all the nicest people, is Canadian. And Dev Patel was born in Kenya, raised in London, is here for playing an Indian raised in Tasmania.Hollywood is crawling with outsiders and foreigners. If you kick 'em all out, you'll have nothing to watch but football and mixed martial arts, which are not the arts. They gave me three seconds to say this. 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. And there were many, many, many powerful performances this year that did exactly that, breathtaking, passionate work.There was one performance this year that stunned me. It sank its hooks in my heart. Not because it was good. There was nothing good about it. But it was effective and 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, power, and the capacity to fight back. It kind of broke my heart when I saw it. I still can't get it out of my head because it wasn't in a movie. It was real life.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, because 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.This brings me to the press. We need the principled press to hold power to account, to call them on the carpet for every outrage.That's why our founders enshrined the press and its freedoms in our constitution. So I only ask the famously well-heeled Hollywood Foreign Press and all of us in our community to join me in supporting the Committee to Protect Journalists. Because we're going to need them going forward. And they'll need us to safeguard the truth.One more thing. Once when I was standing around on the set one day whining about something, we were going to work through supper, or the long hours or whatever, Tommy Lee Jones said to me, "Isn't it such a privilege, Meryl, just to be an actor?" Yeah, it is. And we have to remind each other of the privilege and the responsibility of the act of empathy. We should all be very proud of the work Hollywood honors here tonight.As my friend, the dear departed Princess Leia, said to me once, "Take your broken heart, make it into art." Thank you.
To those readers who think this is whiny liberal screed, take a breath. It is not. It's not even about politics or the election. it's about something much more important.
Are you familiar with the word? Here, let me show you a dictionary definition.
When people disagree, you need civility to take a conversation from beginning to end. Civility is the basis of civilization. Respectful discourse is the foundation. Civility is the package, the whole thing tied up with ribbons. You cannot have two sides of a productive argument without civility.
civilityNOUN· 1 [mass noun] Formal politeness and courtesy in behavior or speech:
- 1.1civilities Polite remarks used in formal conversation:OriginLate Middle English: from Old French civilite, from Latin civilitas, from civilis relating to citizens (see civil).In early use the term denoted the state of being a citizen and hence good citizenship or orderly behavior. The sense ‘politeness’ arose in the mid 16th century.
The response to Ms. Streep's speech by the President Elect on Twitter was neither elegant nor eloquent. It was of the caliber of PeeWee Herman. Instead of "I know you are, but what am I?" he tweeted,
Overrated? Hmmm. Everyone should be so overrated like Meryl Streep.
Every tweet tells Kim Jong-un a little more about who is behind the desk in the Oval Office. Every tweet reminds Vladimir Putin that the President-elect of the United States is too engrossed in his own cult of personality to notice what Russians are doing. Every tweet reminds We, the People, that we have a rank amateur in office.
Running a country is not running a business. Nor is it running a fiefdom. And the United States is a sizable country with a very complex network of local and federal laws. This ship of state cannot turn on a dime, nor would anyone want it to.
Rather than continue showing the differences, let me ask you, gentle readers, a different question: How do you see the United States as a home to your children and grandchildren in 20 years? What are your wishes for that progeny? How do you envision their world?
To have a conversation of civility on any of the issues facing us, we need to figure out, as individuals, what we want this country to look like.
Yelling at each other, belittling each other, spewing hate at each other, and posting fake news and falsehoods (on both sides) are not going to allow that conversation to happen. We, the People are facing serious problems and this is not the time to be playing games. We have a lot of work to do.
People, it's time to stop being assholes and start finding the common ground for civil discourse. And if there is no common ground, it's time to define our space. Either way, civility is NOT an optional element. It must be present and accounted for at all time.
Seriously. I'm not kidding.
The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
Stop being an asshole.