January 09, 2017

Meryl Streep at the 2017 Golden Globes

I woke up this morning to a Facebook feed overflowing with outrage at Meryl Streep's speech during Golden Globe Award Ceremony last night. I didn't watch the Golden Globes. In fact, the only award ceremony I have watched for years is the American Country Music Awards. I am not boycotting the dozens of other award ceremonies broadcast on live television every year, I simply have no interest in them. I enjoy the ACM Awards because I enjoy the way the vast majority of country music performers live their public lives. They don't go on protest marches. They don't preach about their lifestyle. They don't demand the world conform their opinions. Country music performers present themselves as simple, honest folk, regardless of how complex and multidimensional they are in real life. They still understand the primary role of an entertainer is to entertain.

I am a firm believer in freedom. Period. I don't expect other people to agree with me, mimic me, idolize me, or follow me on Twitter. It's always nice when they do, but I never expect it. Because I believe in freedom, it does not bother me in the least that Meryl Streep used this moment in the spotlight to preach down at us peasants and scold us for our audacity in voting for Donald Trump. Meryl Streep, like so many performers in so many different arts, believes she is the nobility of the modern world. Like any aristocratic class, they assume they are "right" by default, therefore, anyone who disagrees with them is "wrong". Their worldview is very simple, and in their own minds, very honest. They do not recognize their own hypocrisy because they assume they are always right.

Hollywood performers are a wonderfully diverse group of people. In her speech, Meryl Streep highlights that diversity. This is very real and not faked. In the modern world Hollywood directors and producers have gone to great lengths to insure their movies and television programs feature as diverse a cast as possible. They have scoured the world in their search for talent and collected the best of the best within the utopian bubble of the Hollywood hills. There is nothing wrong with this. However, it is a very insular and internally focused community. They love themselves and they know by their receipts that the world loves them, too. Within the prison of their sheltered bubble things like love, respect, and courtesy are the norm, not the exception. Therefore, when a particular director or producer behaves in an unethical manner, the entire community is up in arms. The anger this community pours out on Donald Trump is not really directed at him. It is directed internally at the abusive producers and directors within their community who behave in ways the majority of them feel are inappropriate. I must confess, if a producer demands a sexual encounter from an actress (or actor) in order to pay the bills to produce a movie, it's inappropriate. I definitely agree. Unfortunately for the rest of us, that actress (or actor) cannot respond in anger and outrage at the producer. Their very livelihood depends on it. So they grit their teeth, smile, pretend they are in love, and jump in bed. After all, acting is what they do for a living and sometimes this is part of their making a living. But the anger remains, so they pour it out on we peasants who are powerless to object even as they were powerless to object when the producer demanded a night of hot, steamy sex.

Another result of Hollywood's insularity is complete ignorance about how the rest of the world lives. If they see video footage on the news about a Yazidi girl forced into sexual slavery by ISIS, they feel great pain and sorrow. When they see the body of a four year-old pulled from the Mediterranean they are overcome with grief. There is a great deal of evil in the world and the only time they encounter this evil is through the filter of the news media. So a few of them join charity groups and become some variation of the "Goodwill Ambassador". Escorted by armed guards, they travel to carefully selected villages and schools to see firsthand the horror of life outside their utopia. Then they use the footage they obtain to make television commercials begging for someone to do something. Despite my deeply cynical response every time their pleas interrupt my favorite television programs, I understand that they mean well and they are genuinely heartbroken over the horrors they have seen.

We live in an ugly world. This is entirely true. There is no form of life in all creation more cruel and destructive than the human animal. In order to have this modern world we had to claw our way up from the muck and violence of nature. The primary purpose of our big brain is to provide us strategies and tactics for killing. This has always been true. This will always be true. Art, philosophy, science, religion, kindness, empathy, and even love, are all secondary ancillary effects of the very necessary ability to kill without mercy the multitude of stronger, better equipped predators and competitors that seek to eat us for lunch. Once we overcame all of them, we naturally turned this skill on one another. ISIS is not born of poverty or exclusion or prejudice. ISIS reflects the most basic and fundamental core of human existence: killing without mercy even at the cost of our own life. ISIS is who we are.

This is why we need the Benjamin Netanyahus and Donald Trumps of the world. From time to time there will always be men who fall back into our most basic animal instincts and ignore all of the ancillary effects of our big brains. When those men turn their violence on other people then someone equally lacking in empathy must step to the front of the pack and destroy them. If no one is willing to do so, the animals will win out once again and everything we have fought to achieve will be destroyed. Meryl Streep and the Hollywood community are not wrong in their assessment of Donald Trump, of the Nation of Israel, and of people like me. The one thing they do not realize is that the only reason they can live in their protected bubble of love, courtesy, and respect is because there are people who are willing and able to stand up to those men who have reverted to being nothing more than violent wild animals.

It would be very nice if particular producers and directors would stop demanding sexual favors from the people who depend on them. It would also be very nice if men who choose violence over diplomacy would magically self-combust without ever doing any harm to anyone else. Unfortunately, there will always be violent men. It does not matter how many emotional, tear-filled speeches people like Meryl Streep give. We are what we are: human animals who evolved in a world where everything in nature had better natural weapons and stronger muscles. This is why there will always be some form of ISIS. This is why from time to time we will need someone rude and belligerent to oppose them. We tried the soft diplomacy of Barack Obama, but the evil of ISIS has grown, spread, and metastasized. Now we need someone who is both clever enough to develop a strategy to destroy them and stupid enough to actually carry it out.