Disrespect Invites Disrespect, Even in Hollywood


The morning after Sunday night’s Golden Globes Awards, the Plugged In team was talking about two subjects—the powerful wind that was at that time gusting to nearly 100 mph in Colorado Springs and the aforementioned award ceremony. Regarding the latter, I told the team that I planned to write about actress Meryl Streep’s anti-Trump speech, the one that single-handedly upstaged the star-studded event, never mind that her diatribe had nothing to do with movies, actor’s and actress’s performances, or the arts in general. What bothered me was how Streep vilified President-Elect Donald Trump without applying the same standard of judgment to herself and her own industry.

I got approving nods from my teammates, only to find out with a bit of research that the column I had envisioned had already been written. Former CNN host, Piers Morgan, penning a column for The Daily Mail had beaten me to the punch.

And although I think Morgan nails it (despite not being known as particularly Plugged In-esque), I’m going to keep writing, assuming that many, if not most, of you this side of the pond haven’t read his piece.

If you missed it, here’s what Meryl Streep had this to say about Trump (sans his name):

But there was one performance this year that stunned me and 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, and 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. … We need the principled press to hold power to account, to call him on the carpet for every outrage.

Setting aside for a moment whether or not the Golden Globes was the right context to launch a politically-based rant against a President-Elect, I’d like to think for a minute about what Streep has perceptively observed here about how influence works in our culture, specifically how what she’s said also applies equally to the entertainment realm.

First, she stated that Trump imitated a disabled reporter. Morgan points out that Trump has made the same gestures when talking about fully-able bodied people (See here and decide for yourself.)  So, perhaps, it’s not as clear cut as the actress thinks. Either way, however, Streep does have a point when she says that the president must treat all people with respect and dignity, and that someone (the press in this case) should hold his feet to the fire when he doesn’t. I agree with both of these things.

But where Streep missed it by a country mile is when she somehow failed to see how hypocritical she, by virtue of being a powerful person in the entertainment industry, actually is too. Yes, all presidents of the United States will be hugely influential! Yes, people are listening and watching. Yes, disrespect invites disrespect. But the very same thing holds true for Hollywood.

Said Morgan:

If Trump was mocking a man’s disability then I agree it was disgraceful. Let’s move to what Streep said next: ‘Disrespect invites disrespect. Violence incites violence. When the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose.’

At this point, I laughed out loud with incredulity. Not at the words themselves, which are laudable. No, it was at the hypocrisy.

You’d be hard-pushed to find an industry that encourages more disrespect and violence than Hollywood.

A place where rich powerful people make billions of dollars by regularly pandering to the lowest common denominators of sexism, racism, homophobia and misogyny. And happily exploit ever more hideous, graphic violence to make a fast, easy buck.

And seethe from every tinsel-encrusted pore with the very kind of nasty, power-based bullying that Meryl Streep claims to be so incensed by in Trump.

So great though her censorious words indisputably are, they would be perhaps better directed at her own back yard.

Regarding her own backyard, to cite one example of how this plays out in real life, I’d point out a glamorized pot-smoking scene in It’s Complicated, a film she starred in a few years back. I’ll excerpt from our review:

Both Jane (Streep) and Adam (Steve Martin) inhale long drags from the joint, getting goofily stoned. They both comment on how much more potent pot is since they last smoked it decades ago.

When I saw that film, I remember thinking to myself, I wonder how many people will start smoking marijuana because both Streep and Martin make it look so cool here?

Meryl, you’re a talented actress. And you’re spot on when you say that the rich and powerful have to be even more careful to treat people with dignity and honor. That said, you might also want to consider the log in your own eye before being so quick to try to remove it from someone else’s.

Who wrote this?

Bob Waliszewski is the director of the Plugged In department. His syndicated "Plugged In Movie Review" feature is heard by approximately 9 million people each week on more than 1,500 radio stations and other outlets and has been nominated for a National Religious Broadcaster's award. Waliszewski is the author of the book Plugged-In Parenting: How to Raise Media-Savvy Kids With Love, Not War. You can follow him on Twitter @PluggedInBob.

Have something to say? Leave a comment.

Melody Hitchner 9 months ago
Read both this and the Piers Morgan column. I don't care what Meryl does; her words, actions, whatever will not affect most of us in the slightest. However, Mr. Waliszewski and Morgan both defend Trump's hand gestures by saying "Morgan points out that Trump has made the same gestures when talking about fully-able bodied people." So what? In grade school, kids made the same gestures, always toward full-abled people.

 The meaning is still the same: "You're retarded," is what it means, Mr. Waliszewski, no matter who it's directed to. It's one thing when you're seven years old (although I do wish a teacher or parent had taken us aside and gently explained to us what we were doing and why it was awful). It's quite another when you're 69 years old and running for president.  I am so disappointed in Plugged In's unChristian defense of Trumps inexcusable actions.
brody300 9 months ago
I see you tree hugger now it's time out Timmy kind of person from hippie movement.hollywood opinion matter little,your on tv,movie, big deal is that your role model? Sex, cheating bad language? I laugh at Hollywood and role models "for women" when it comes to my daughter. Sleeping around drugs the view, people who waste time reading about what so n so did o my gosh can you believe that? My kids and daughter knows difference between leader/role model and follower.trump not politician nor were our founders. He did stupid thing but Obama demos lied  healthcare  illegals drugs getting people killed, debt my grand kids have believe of treehuggers and lazy people not working for themselves and off welfare because 48% really do pay nothing n get and unearned income credit which is mind blowning  n Hollywood back them up so that is your role model them and tabloids? 
Anonymous 9 months ago

Posted by First Comment Guy

I don't think Plugged In is supporting Trump and his actions. What they're really trying to say is that Meryl pointing her fingers at Trump isn't right; she's done plenty of dirty things in her life of Hollywood, like Trump. It's not up for Meryl or any of us to judge Trump; that's God's job. Rather, we should be praying for Trump and/or Streep that they'll admit how filthy their lives have been and accept Christ as their Savior.

Besides, didn't Trump apologize for his locker room talk by saying he's not proud of what he did?

Anonymous 9 months ago
Posted by Peggy Carter

Spot on, First Comment Guy! Except, judging by some of the things Trump said during the debates, and in other articles I've read of him, it doesn't really sound like he's ashamed of what he did - maybe just of being caught. But we can hope and pray that he will come to know Christ, because he has been given an amazing opportunity to bring much-needed change to the country.
Anonymous 9 months ago

Posted by First Comment Guy

As an American, Meryl Streep is of course welcome to state her own opinion. And her speech was well spoken in telling everyone how she felt about how 2016's election turned out.

HOWEVER, she gave the wrong speech at the wrong time. If she gave that speech at a post election party or gathering, it would of been completely fine. But for an event like The Golden Globes, strictly talking about Trump and mentioning NOTHING about Hollywood is just inappropriate and disgraceful.

Dan Haynes 9 months ago
I disagree. Award show speeches have long been venues for the speaker's pet causes, political statements, etc. If an actor got up there and waxed eloquent upon the virtues of a fundamentalist Christian lifestyle, FotF and its constituents would be turning cartwheels in their living rooms and penning great missives about the bravery of the speaker. Anyone who responded by questioning the appropriateness of proselytizing from an awards show stage would be accused of being an anti-Christian Hollywood elite.  
Anonymous 9 months ago

Posted by the Other Anonymous

Streep sure picked the low-hanging fruit when she accused Donald Trump.  It's easy to blame him for mocking the disabled reporter; anyone can rightly blame him for that, and everyone has (Christians have too!  Don't say we were silent about this).  Way to go, Streep!  You're the millionth person to call Trump out on this.

Friends of PluggedIn and Focus, don't get taken for a ride by Streep's sliver of decency.  The film industry's major effect on most Christians is like Stockholm syndrome.  We're so used to R-rated trash and tabloid junk coming from Hollywood that when we hear of them doing something good, we forgive all their sins immediately.

And yes, Streep defended human rights and decency... but she also supports LGBT rights and abortion.

So please, let's not suddenly fall in love with Streep ;)

Anonymous 9 months ago
How about just applauding what she said instead of trying to find fault with her in every other area of life.  I am quite sure that Meryl Streep and I would disagree on a wide variety of issues - gay rights, abortion, and many, many others.  But on this issue, she is 100% correct.  Let us applaud her for that.  Surely, we can all agree that we need to treat one another with respect. 
Anonymous 9 months ago
Posted by Peggy Carter

the Other Anonymous, I thought your comment was great! I think that everyone here is (mostly) on the same page - we all aren't overly fond of Trump (to put it mildly) and are merely disagreeing about Hollywood. There was nothing wrong with Meryl Streep's speech. It simply needed to be applied more widely than just to Donald Trump. She is right when it comes to him, but there is where the "good coming out of Hollywood" ends.
Anonymous 9 months ago
So nothing else "good" comes out of Hollywood?  Do you always throw around such generalities?  There is quality work being done in the film industry.  There are men and women involved in the film industry who use their influence and resources to help fight diseases, to combat poverty, to stand up for battered women, and the list could go on.  Newsflash - you do not have to agree with someone on every position to recognize and cheer them on when they say or do something of positive value.  And why do you insist that Meryl Streep apply what she said more broadly?  Again, why cannot we just take her for what she DID say and applaud it without complaining about what she DID NOT say?  
Anonymous 9 months ago
Posted by Peggy Carter

You're right, that was too much of a generality...but ultimately, whatever "good" we do apart from Christ, is nothing. The actors and actresses who do good things, should keep doing them, by all means! We can and do applaud what Meryl Streep said, but hasn't everyone for the past year said many of the same things about Trump?
Anonymous 9 months ago
anyone know how I change anonymous to my name 

Anonymous 9 months ago

Thanks Plugged in for having the courage to speak Truth in a time that speaking up gets us bullied.  If anyone dared to say they were a republican at any hollywood event these last 8 years you would be tarred and feathered.  This is so much bigger then Trump...Hollywood  wants to control the moral code of the world!!!!!!!
bobed 9 months ago
I have never disagreed more with a Pluggedin article. In fact, I was nodding as I read Ms. Streep's speech online, while with this article I was shaking my head. And this is coming from someone who disagrees with almost everything Hollywood stands for. Ms. Streep's speech was classy, relevant and something we should all take to heart.

Are you honestly comparing Trump's mocking of a disabled person to the fact that an actress pretended to smoke marijuana in a film? Can you really say that anything an actress does in a film is comparable to the leader of the free world being a boorish, oafish, unrepentant bully whose actions incite disrespect, humiliation and perhaps even violence against the disabled?

As the father of a daughter with a speech and mobility impediment, I have never been more impressed with a Hollywood actor's political stand as I was with Ms. Streep's. I disagree with Piers Morgan (a disrespectful and vile man, so no wonder he sided with Trump), and I disagree with this PI article. Not only do I disagree, I'm disappointed. Meryl Streep took a stand for decency and respect. I don't particularly care what kind of characters she has played in her films. If I cared about that, I would never have watched God's Not Dead, because it stars Kevin Sorbo, who has previously been in some pretty pagan and atheistic shows and movies. Perhaps I would agree if the actress had once starred as an unrepentant ableist who was never redeemed or repentant, but she never has, to my knowledge. You invalidate her important words because she smoked weed in a movie? Give me a break. 

To conclude: Ms. Streep's speech resonated with me and I agreed with every word. We need to be more respectful and conscious of how our words and actions affect others, especially when it comes to the most vulnerable of our society, and when the ones doing the actions are the most powerful among us. As Christians we are to stand for the weak and the hungry and the suffering and those who are disabled. The actress's brave speech embodied that quality. This article, and the repugnant Mr. Morgan's, do not.
Andrew Gilbertson 9 months ago
I don't think anyone was trying dismiss or invalidate her words. I think everyone here agrees that they are sorely deserved, and badly needed. The only point being made, is that they need to be applied more broadly and equally within the Hollywood environment as well, not that they aren't an absolutely accurate indictment of the president elect. 

So far from invalidating those words, they are commanding them- just recommending them to a far wider application than they were originally intended for.
bobed 9 months ago
Huh? Your last paragraph is patently untrue. How did PI in ANY way "commend" Ms. Streep's words or "recommend them for a wider application"??
Andrew Gilbertson 9 months ago
"I’d like to think for a minute about what Streep has perceptively observed here about how influence works in our culture,"
"Streep does have a point when she says that the president must treat all people with respect and dignity, and that someone (the press in this case) should hold his feet to the fire when he doesn’t. I agree with both of these things."
"Yes, disrespect invites disrespect. [i.e. Her statement is principally correct] But the very same thing holds true for Hollywood."
"Meryl, you’re a talented actress. And you’re spot on when you say that the rich and powerful have to be even more careful to treat people with dignity and honor."

The entire message of this post is not 'Meryl Streep said something wrong,' but 'Meryl Streep- and by extension Hollywood- said a good and true thing... now THEY ought to try practicing it, too!' That's not a condemnation of the words; it's a commendation to apply them to the speaker *as well* as her subject. (A wider application).
Alex Clark 9 months ago
If Streep's had been up there making a criticism of Obama I wonder if certain people would be so quick to complain.  And doesn't she have a right to voice her opinion?

And "Hollywood" is not of one single mind; it isn't an individual.  It's made up of thousands and thousands of actors, screenwriters, producers, directors, etc. etc. all different people, all writing and creating and starring in different things.  There are bad movies and bad messages out there, of course, but it is NOT accurate to act as if "Hollywood" is one monolithic force " pandering to the lowest common denominators of sexism, racism, homophobia and misogyny. And happily exploit ever more hideous, graphic violence to make a fast, easy buck."   That's a major difference.  Streep's comments were aimed at a single individual and his behavior, while "hollywood" is not a single individual with a single unified agenda.
Anonymous 9 months ago
Posted by Peggy Carter

True that Hollywood "isn't an individual" and that if she had been criticizing Obama, there wouldn't be as many complaints. But what comes out of Hollywood that gives us any reason to think that anything but "sexism, racism, homophobia and misogyny" could come from there?
She does have a certain right to voice her opinion, but "people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones." When was the last time that she - or anyone in Hollywood for that matter - stood for something "good"? With the platform they have, are they promoting "whatever is pure, noble, lovely, excellent and praiseworthy"?
Anonymous 9 months ago
I think Meryl Streep did stand for something "good" in her speech - respect for your fellow man and civil discourse.  I can only wish more Christians would stand for the same.
bobed 9 months ago
"When was the last time that she - or anyone in Hollywood for that matter - stood for something good?"

Uh, I'd say January 8th, the night of the Golden Globes.
Anonymous 9 months ago
Posted by Peggy Carter

I wasn't downplaying the significance or truth of what Ms. Streep said, merely pointing out, as Andrew Gilbertson said above, that her words "need to be applied more broadly and equally within the Hollywood environment as well, not that they aren't an absolutely accurate indictment of the president elect." A critical speech about someone who barely anyone likes is not very good proof that "something good could come from Hollywood." 
Anonymous 9 months ago
She certainly had no problem putting down sports!!! It was a speech filled with sour grapes that her candidate did not win  She forgot to mention she was also speaking to the deplorables as Hillary called Trump followers 
Alex Clark 9 months ago
Just off the top of my head, what about Hacksaw Ridge, Hidden Figures, Loving, Trolls, Moana, Zootopia, Sing, Finding Dory, Lion, Hail Cesar, Captain America Civil War, Dr. Strange, BvS, Passengers, Jackie, Rogue One, Fantastic Beasts, Queen of Katwe, One Chance, Florence Foster Jenkins, and others?  I can;t think of what would be sexist, racist, homophobic, or misogynistic about any of those movies, or quit frankly at least 75% of the movies that came out this year.  Even with movies that were kind of "mindless" and just popcorn flicks (think TMNT 2 or Independance Day 2) I don't think I'd say that any of them were awful or morally bankrupt.  I can only think of a small handful that were really truly awful and un-redeemable  (stuff like Sausage Party.)  The awful stuff is still in the minority, IMO.   And really I don't think Hollywood has a problem with being homophobic, its with the exact opposite actually.  It's why I really don;t get it when people talk about hollywood "in general" as being corrupt and morally bankrupt and devoid of the positive, because I just think you must have missed all the good movies this year.  It's true that the same "Hollywood" that released stuff like Hacksaw Ridge and Finding Dory also released junk like Sausage Party, but only true in the most generalized non-specific sense possible.  Those movies likely share absolutely NO ONE between their creative teams and have less than nothing to do with each other, and its mostly like that with all the movies.  Their is no big conspiratorial "Hollywood agenda" 

There's definite values dissonance for sure though with some of the messages we see in movies.  Often times a film will take a stand on a topic that we happen to disagree about as Christians, but that still means that the film maker is trying to take a stand on something that *they* believe is right and true and good.  As a previous article on pluggedin pointed out, Hollywood films try to be moral and stand for things *all the time*, it's just that we don't always agree about what they are standing for.  
Anonymous 9 months ago

Posted by the Other Anonymous

If Meryl Streep had criticized Obama, then the popular media outlets would have burned her alive.  Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram would have bashed her, too.  And if her arguments were legitimate and sound, then the press would have made sure her words never saw the light of day.

But Streep accused Trump, so everyone hailed her courage as if she's the only person who called him out for mocking a disabled person.

Anonymous 9 months ago
One key difference is that Streep and Hollywood tell stories.  What you see on the screen is not real, even if it is gritty and realistic.  Donald Trump is going to be the president of the United States.  That is real life.  There is no excuse for his behavior.  Have we become so used to him attacking other people that we just blow it off as nothing?  The mocking of the reporter was one incident in a long line of deplorable incidents.  I am not defending Hollywood and the  movie industry.  But I applaud Meryl Streep's speech.  She was eloquent and tasteful.  The thin-skinned president-elect responded just how he always responds when people say or do things that he does not like - he makes excuses for his behavior and then goes on the attack.  
goodtohear 9 months ago
Hollywood used to inspire us with many movies and tv shows with integrity.  And more importantly whether the actors and actresses had integrity or not they did show respect for their audience (their customers) and not lecture half of the voters in the US.  I agree that it's time for Hollywood to clean up their town before they tell the rest of us how we should want to live. Sex. Drugs. Nudity. Half a dozen marriages-the norm. Anything goes. They can't figure out that middle America thinks they are detrimental to the good of society. 
Anonymous 9 months ago
Half a dozen marriages?  How many has Donald Trump had?  Does Donald Trump really represent your values?  Besides, Meryl Streep is an actress.  She does not represent all of Hollywood.  She spoke for herself.  And I have a difficult time understanding how anyone can debate her points that we need to shoe respect to our fellow human beings.
Lexi477 8 months ago
Meryl Streep has been married to the same man since 1978. Her one and only marriage. Trump has been married three times. He cheated on at least two of his wives. Shortly after marrying his current wife, he spoke about "moving on" a married woman on a hot mike. Why are you defending Trump with talk of Hollywood's lack of integrity. I doubt many even in Hollywood can compare to Trump's excesses. He once tried to force a widow from her home so he could build a limo parking lot. Her name was Vera Coking, in case you think I'm making that up.