By Murtaza Ali Khan
Minutes after being sworn in as the 45th President of the United States of America, Donald J. Trump addressed an enthusiastic crowd that gathered in Washington DC to witness his inauguration, even as the country continued to witness scattered protects against the real-estate billionaire’s dramatic ascension to power. When the Time Magazine named Donald Trump as its Person of the Year in December last year, it didn’t flinch while referring to him as the “President of the Divided States of America”. Perhaps, there isn’t a better way to describe Trump! For, never since the days of the American Civil War have the people of America been divided like the way they seem divided in opinion about Trump. Although Donald Trump is not the first candidate to win the American presidential election despite losing the popular vote, the margin of 2.86 million ballots is certainly the biggest popular vote disparity ever registered in the history of the US. Trump’s presidential win came as a major shock to the large sections of the media and intelligentsia who from the very beginning have been questioning his divisive, rabble-rousing style of politics.
In what has been described as an unprecedented show of disapproval for a President-elect, the mass protests against Trump haven’t stopped even since he was declared as the winner with many of America’s most influential men and women coming down heavily on Trump and his notorious buffoonery. But no one has been more vocal in the protest against Trump than Hollywood. Anti-Trump rallies have been helmed by the likes of Robert De Niro, Michael Moore, Alec Baldwin, Julianne Moore, and Mark Ruffalo. But, perhaps, none of them has managed to get the kind of attention that Meryl Streep’s recent speech at the 74th Golden Globes garnered during which she unleashed a scathing tirade against Donald Trump without ever mentioning his name. When Streep came to the stage to receive the prestigious Cecil B. DeMille Award for her lifetime contribution to cinema, no one had a clue what they were about to witness. Streep is undoubtedly one of the most respected personalities in the film world. She is not only loved by the film fraternity but is also a favorite of the press. Every time she shares her views on an important issue, the impact reaches far and wide.
Streep has never been the one to mince words. Here again she didn’t leave much to imagination while making her dislike for Trump quite obvious. Streep began by talking about Hollywood and what it stood for. She talked about how Hollywood is the home to varied talents belonging to different ethnicities and who come from the various nooks and corners of the world. That without this rich cultural fabric and diversity, Hollywood would lose its unique identity and would fall apart like a pack of cards. Donald Trump has time and again made his views on immigrants and refugees quite obvious and so by talking about Hollywood’s diverse make-up, she set the record straight that the people of America at large wouldn’t succumb to Trump’s divisive, propaganda-based politics. For, what is Hollywood but a microcosmic representation of the US? But, Streep wasn’t done yet. She unleashed her most bitter assault on Trump when she described Trump’s shameless imitation of a disabled reporter as a performance that stood out this year and stunned her and broke her heart, for it wasn’t in a movie but in real life. “Disrespect invites disrespect; violence incites violence. When the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose,” the three time Oscar-winning actress said. Streep rounded off her scornful speech by emphasizing the need for a free and fair principled press capable of holding power to account, before ending it by quoting the late Carrie Fisher: “Take your broken heart, make it into art.”
Meryl Streep’s speech was about everything Hollywood stands for. It was also about what the US stands for. But more importantly, it was about what a democracy should stand for – majority rule with minority rights, among other things! Her all-out attack on Trump was not only singularly effective but also quite justified, given how Trump has conducted himself ever since he entered the presidential race. In his desperation to exorcise all those who opposed him Trump completely forgot about the dignity that’s associated with the post of the president. Now that Trump has been officially sworn in at the president of the United States of America it is imperative that he is held accountable to anything and everything he says and does. Amidst the widespread unrest surrounding Trump’s meteoric rise to power, Meryl Streep’s strong voice is like a ray of hope. Hers is not a voice of discord but is a call for unity. But, at the same time, it is a reminder of the ideals that are so eloquently underlined in the American Declaration of Independence, signed about two hundred and forty years ago by the American colonists who took it upon themselves to bring an end to the tyranny of the British crown, and best summed up by the following lines:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
Meryl Streep’s memorable Golden Globes speech, having already garnered millions of YouTube views, is a reminder that the American intelligentsia continues to stand united against the divisive brand of politics that Donald Trump adheres to. Cinema is often described as the definitive art form of the 21st century for it encompasses all other forms of art. What makes motion pictures a formidable form of communication is their capability to disseminate information even to the farthest corners of the globe. When used in the right manner, cinema is quite capable of achieving what a revolution of hundreds of thousands cannot. The people associated with cinema can leverage their influence to inspire and enlighten the masses and obviate all fears of a totalitarian nightmare that a regime like Trump’s can become. Not only Hollywood but the world of cinema at large has its work cut out as it continues to be a beacon of hope for mankind. For, today, we find ourselves at crossroads with demagogues and rabble rousers trying to unleash their malicious agendas of dividing people based on nationalities, ethnicities, caste, color, religion, race, and gender by breeding fear and hatred. The same onus also lies with the press as well.
Time has come for media persons and artists to join hands in thwarting the evil designs of hate-mongering leaders like Donald Trump to destabilize the world’s harmony.
Murtaza Ali Khan is an independent film critic and blogger based out of Delhi, India. He is the editor-in-chief of A Potpourri of Vestiges and a regular contributor to Huffington Post, Wittyfeed, Jamurra Blog, etc.
Cafe Dissensus Everyday is the blog of Cafe Dissensus magazine, based in New York City, USA. All materials on the site are protected under Creative Commons License.
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