Meryl Streep and Emma Thompson say whatever the hell they like, in aid of mutual appreciation

8 January 2014

meryl-blog480Ah, headline writing. So tricky, so misleading. If you’ve been paying attention to Facebook today, you would have seen headlines like this:

Meryl Streep Slams Walt Disney, Celebrates Emma Thompson as a “Rabid, Man-Eating Feminist”

Meryl Streep attacks Walt Disney on antisemitism and sexism

I’ll admit, I clicked through … only to find that the real story (set at the National Board of Review ceremony last night, at which Meryl presented an award to Emma) is not Meryl’s “attack” on Disney, her line about Emma as a man-eating feminist, or even Emma’s line about how getting a perm for the role of P. L. Travers in Saving Mr. Banks “meant no sex, of course, for months on end. And then only with animal noises accompanying it.” (Also: yes, we three are now on a first-name basis.)

The real story here is that these two women displayed something we almost never see in the media: true affection and huge respect for each other, expressed eloquently (and tartly) and underlined by the pleasure of seeing one another get roles despite the pervasive sexism of Hollywood.

So you see: the story is about two amazing women, and the headline writers still manage to get a dude in there.

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If you’re going for a whoa! did Meryl Streep say something she shouldn’t have? response, well then write a headline that mentions her disdain for Disney. But that’s not the real story. In fact, Disney’s only the tip of the iceberg. Their speeches (click on the first link above for a full transcript of both, which are absolute must-reads) are great pleasures to read in part because they’re so full of the very best little zingers. When Emma thanks writer Kelly Marcel for creating a lead character “who’s so relentlessly unpleasant,” for example, she speaks of how delightful it was to torture her fellow male actors, including Tom Hanks. “He’s always looked like he needed a good smack,” she explains.

So write your stupid headlines that miss the point if you insist. But let’s not miss the lead, which is that it’s way more entertaining to listen to women when they’re singing each other’s praises, when they’re showing off their verbal talents at the height of their powers, and when they’re telling it like it is. You know what I want? To be at a dinner party with M & Em. Yes please.

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6 Responses to “Meryl Streep and Emma Thompson say whatever the hell they like, in aid of mutual appreciation”

  1. Becky Says:

    The mutual admiration party between these two is priceless! Yes, they can say whatever they like, wherever they like, about whomever they like, and I will be glad to hear it. They have both earned their chops and more. And I second Emma’s assertion that heels are worthless and painful. When will women stop doing that?! Are our legs not good enough in flats?


  2. I love this. I have always loved how feminist Streep is. But I still can’t get over that Thompson (like the rest of Hollywood) defended Hugh Grant when he used a prostitute (and cheated on his wife) all those years ago.

    • Didion Says:

      I’m with you on reluctance to forgive for these kinds of things. I couldn’t believe it when Jodie Foster went out of her way to defend Mel Gibson after his various drunken, anti-Semitic outbursts. WHY?

  3. Z Says:

    OT: thought you’d appreciate this. https://www.jacobinmag.com/2014/01/in-the-name-of-love/

    As you know, I am against going on about how hard one is working, etc., because I am against the workaholic atmosphere, groaning and competitive misery. Not against solidarity, though.

  4. Hattie Says:

    Good insights. Those women have been through it all and know what’s what.


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