Early last month the greatest actress of her generation, Meryl Streep, gave a speech at the Golden Globes 2017, after winning the Cecil B. DeMille lifetime achievement award. During it, she peripherally took a gentle swipe at mixed martial arts.
“Hollywood is crawling with outsiders and foreigners, and if we kick ’em all out, you’ll have nothing to watch but football and mixed martial arts, which ARE NOT THE ARTS.”
The MMA community, mindful that public criticism of the sport very nearly drove it out of business were not impressed. While “not the arts” is not “human cockfighting,” it still wasn’t a nice thing to say.
Now, in a speech before Human Rights Campaign’s 2017 Greater New York Gala, Streep walked the remarks back.
“I do like football,” she said, as transcribed by Seth Abramovitch and Patrick Shanley the Hollywood Reporter. “Let me just make that clear. I gave seven years, seven of my youngest, prettiest years to being a cheerleader for football, basketball, and wrestling. I have watched more Pee Wee league football, Pop Warner football, JV and varsity high school football, JV and varsity college level and professional football for over over 60 years, more than probably anyone in this room.
“And, yes, I thought the Falcons/Patriots game was the most exciting football game in history, but in my honest opinion, it is totally crazy that the winning advantage in a Super Bowl tie is determined by means of a coin toss! Sad. But that is as butch as I am going to get all night.
“If you overhear a woman in a restaurant say, ‘My son is very interested in the arts,’ she probably doesn’t mean football or mixed martial arts.
“They are just not the same thing. Look, some of us like football, some of us like the arts, many of us require both in our lives. I was making a joke. Some people missed it. Mike Nichols once told me, ‘If you have to explain a joke, you, and the joke, are doomed.’ So, whatever.”
In walking back her remarks on football and MMA, Streep may have inadvertently taken another backhanded swipe. The Human Rights Campaign is the largest LGBT civil rights advocacy group and political lobbying organization in the United States. Her remarks that she has watched more football than anyone in the room, could be taken as relying on snide stereotypes about gay men. Would she have said the same thing to a room full of longshoremen? Maybe. Would a room full of longshoremen listen to Meryl Streep for 20 minutes. Maybe.
In any case, Meryl Streep is an admirable champion of equality and LGBT rights and arguably the greatest living actor. Maybe the best thing to say about Meryl Streep and MMA is that she’s an admirable champion of equality and LGBT rights and arguably the greatest living actor.