In the face of continued pressure to actually express an opinion–largely thanks to Rose McGowan’s rampant and merciless shaming about actresses wearing black to the Golden Globes–Meryl Streep has at last decided to say something about misconduct in the industry that she’s long enjoyed the benefits of being a part of. And fittingly, she’s made the same mistakes as her male predecessors in how she chooses to speak about these events. Namely, she’s gone a more Kevin Spacey route, choosing a means of another “outing” to deflect from her own issue at hand: that she’s never spoken of the abuse in the industry–neither on the behalf of others or herself. That is, until now, when it’s fully chic to do so and the clamoring can no longer be ignored.
Accordingly, Streep has recounted the time yet another accused of sexual assault, Dustin Hoffman, slapped her just a little too hard on Kramer v. Kramer, one of the earlier films in her career to help lend her breakout status. Of the slapping, Streep remained glib, noting, “This is tricky because when you’re an actor, you’re in a scene, you have to feel free. I’m sure that I have inadvertently hurt people in physical scenes. But there’s a certain amount of forgiveness in that.” One wonders just how “free” others have felt with her in the past–but she’ll certainly never tell.
Incidentally, a quote from Streep regarding her first “partner” (it’s hard to say that word seriously), John Cazale, before going on to marry sculptor Don Gummer speaks to, in many ways, the trauma she must have felt over her own harassment during the “everybody was doing cocaine” period. Of Cazale’s death, she said, “I didn’t get over it. I don’t want to get over it. No matter what you do, the pain is always there in some recess of your mind, and it affects everything that happens afterwards. I think you can assimilate the pain and go on without making an obsession of it.” That Streep could neither be obsessed with nor at least mildly active in some form of providing the catalyst for the #metoo movement is, alas, unfortunate considering her prominent position in the acting community.
But because Streep was able to evade too much unbearable harassment as a result of it all happening briefly “when [she] was young and pretty” and “nobody comes on to [her] now,” why should she get involved?–other than the fact that she’s so frequently championed herself as a bleeding heart liberal of the variety that ought to stand up for women and their rights as human beings. She even went so far as to use the acceptance of her Cecil B. DeMille Award for Lifetime Achievement at the 2017 Golden Globes as an opportunity to say of Trump, “When the powerful use their position to bully, we all lose.” Likewise, when the powerful use their position to do nothing, we all lose. And this is precisely what Streep has done, even more so in an interview with The New York Times for her latest film, The Post, by responding, “I don’t want to hear about the silence of me. I want to hear about the silence of Melania Trump.”
When given yet another opportunity by the interviewer to speak on her own abuse upon being asked, “Do you want to go into specifics?,” Streep put a further lid on it by replying, “No, no. I don’t. I mean, I was really beaten up, but I don’t want to ruin somebody’s mature life. I just don’t.”
Well, maybe Hollywood just doesn’t want to support a woman so cavalier about separating the sleazy business from the “high” art. Because in the version of Hollywood built upon the PTSD of sexual assault, there can be no separating of the two.