If your message is, “don’t make fun of disabled people,” fine. Trump insists he wasn’t doing that in his discussion of New York Times reporter Serge F. Kovaleski, but many have noted the similarity between Trump’s gestures and the effects of Kovaleski’s arthrogryposis, which limits the functioning of his joints.
If your message is, “we have to remind each other of the privilege and the responsibility of the act of empathy,” fine. Empathy is a good thing.
Except . . . no one’s going to feel obligated to be more empathetic if the call for empathy comes from the walking embodiment of Hollywood royalty, and it’s immediately followed by a declaration that the general public’s tastes are cruddy: “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.”
What did football players or mixed martial artists ever do to Meryl Streep? This isn’t just snide, it’s really inaccurate. Both UFC and Bellator have plenty of competitors born in other countries. The number of foreign-born NFL players is increasing as well.
Such a gratuitous shot, and so counter to everything else Streep said. Her very next sentence is, “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.”
Could she enter the lives of football or MMA fans at that moment? How does she think those folks would feel?
Literally a minute later, Streep declares, “when the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose.” Does she have enough empathy to understand why millions of Americans might feel like a multimillionaire superstar snickering about their entertainment choices might come across as a bully at that moment?