Politics

Hollywood’s role in politics

Iconic actress Meryl Streep made the headlines after publicly criticising president-elect Donald Trump during the Golden Globes awards ceremony.
 
While accepting the Cecil B. DeMille award for her impressive acting career, Streep attacked the incoming President for his discrimination against foreigners and particularly drew attention to his bullying of a disabled man.
 
“There was one performance this year that stunned me; it sank its hooks in my heart, not because it was good…” Streep said during her impassioned speech.
 
“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.”
 
In November 2016, Trump appeared to mock New York Times reporter Serge Kovaleski, who suffers from a muscular disorder.
 
The three-time Oscar winner has been praised on social media for speaking out against the injustice but she is not the first person to use her platform to highlight social issues.
 
Last year, after finally winning an Oscar for Best Actor, Leonardo DiCaprio used his acceptance speech to discuss the problem of climate change – citing it as “the most urgent threat facing our entire species.”
 
Similarly, Shailene Woodley got arrested in October 2016 for standing up against the Dakota Access Pipeline alongside Native Americans. The young actress acknowledged that her privilege of being a celebrity (as well as being white) allowed her to bring the issue of contaminated water to the attention of the masses.
 
Celebrities have been criticised previously for getting involved in political issues that don’t concern them. But do these stars have a role to play?
 
During her speech, Meryl Streep also referenced the importance of the press: “We need the principled press, to hold power to account, to call them them on the carpet for every outrage.” Adding to this, the actress discussed the responsibility that Hollywood has to the press and encouraged the audience to support the Committee to Protect Journalists: “We’re gonna need them going forward, and they’ll need us to safeguard the truth.”
 
Following the ceremony on Sunday night, the CPJ received over $80,000 in donations – a spike reminiscent of the increase in donations for ProPublica after John Oliver encouraged his audience to donate.
 
While Hollywood stars may not be qualified to comment on political issues, they have the power and the platform to speak the truth and hold public figures to account.