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11 January 2017

Blah Blah Land

Meryl Streep at the Golden Globe Awards (Courtesy: businessinsider.com)

“A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.”
– Oscar Wilde

I had a wild dream last night; one of those where you wake up fretting and sweating a little and the tangled covers serve as evidence of much tossing and turning.

The late iconic film critic Roger Ebert was standing at the podium at some grand hall.  Roger was introducing me as recipient of the Golden Globes Lifetime Achievement Award for my long list of film criticism awards and accomplishments.

OK, let's take a break.  Rule No. 1:  Please remember, this was a dream.  No. 2:  No giggling.

In the weird subconscious domain of dreamland and, quite possibly, a result of snacking too late at night, I was the most revered film critic of all time.  The late Pauline Kael applauded politely and nodded approval every time Ebert praised a twist of phrase all the other critics wished they had thought of first.  The late Gene Siskel reacted in a similar manner.

I remember thinking one thing as I took one last long slug of free champagne and began to make my way to the podium amid thunderous applause:  "When I get to the podium, much of the free world and perhaps even some Russian cyber attackers will be listening to everything I have to say.

"This is the perfect opportunity to grace the world with my political beliefs, to use my position as the most respected film critic in the world to belittle buffoons of all occupations who have done me wrong and, occasionally, done me right by derailing what I thought was my dream to force me (No, make that entitle me) to find a better, truer calling."

Instead, I did this.  I thanked my wife Suellen for being my muse, for standing behind me when I had to be away from home as many as 44 weekends a year to interview movie stars and for believing in my dream even though it never occurred to me to support hers (until recently).

I thanked all the members of my immediate and extended family for sitting through countless foreign, silent and classic films at my urging and for the demands and limitations it has put on them.  I offered heartfelt thanks to San Antonio radio legend Sonny Melendrez, the kindest, funniest, most giving and most professional broadcast partner I've ever had the pleasure of sharing a microphone with, and all my many other broadcast and journalism associates.

Then, I thanked my readers, viewers and radio listeners; all the people who took time to read my reviews and interviews, or watched them on their NBC-TV affiliate around the United States and some foreign countries.

I wish Meryl Streep had gone that route Sunday night at the Golden Globe Awards.  

My position on what happened at that Golden Globes podium may be mine alone.  But here it is.  Streep, a three-time Oscar winner with a record-breaking 19 Academy Award actress nominations, is our finest living actress.  From this aisle seat, no one can touch her talent, despite what a certain prominent soon-to-be world leader thinks.

Streep's impassioned speech defending Hollywood, foreigners and the press and firing verbal torpedoes at this country's next president was powerful, moving and ... not surprisingly, extremely well-performed.  She is, after all, a gifted performer.

If she had submitted those words to the New York Times or any other major newspaper and it ran as a letter to the editor on the op-ed page, I would applaud everything our greatest actress said.

Instead, she chose a time when a simple thank you was called for to jump into a gnarled political arena.  Why?  Doesn't Streep tweet?

And I was shocked, shocked by one thing she said:

"Once when I was standing around on the set one day whining about something, we were going to work through supper, or the long hours or whatever, Tommy Lee Jones said to me, isn't it such a privilege, Meryl, just to be an actor. Yeah, it is. And we have to remind each other of the privilege and the responsibility of the act of empathy."

That could have been on the set of The Homesman (2014), Hope Springs (2012) or A Prairie Home Companion in 2006

Wherever it was, when Streep admitted she got empathy lessons from Jones, a great actor often criticized as crusty and, shall we say, temperamental, I thought ...

"Whoa, I must be dreaming."


I respectfully disagree with Kathy R. When we see something wrong or disrespectful it is our duty to set it right by disrobing it. Platforms are different sizes. Platforms can be at different locations. If we have something to set right, then jump on any of those platforms where we can. My platform was an aisle at Sam's. Meryl used the platform presented to her. She showed she cared, and I hope we all do. She was bigger than the award.

Larry, as a journalist you should be more sensitive to what the President-elect is trying to destroy the free press. Ditactors alwasy go to silence critics in the media as a way to spread propaganda the country they are taking over. The President-elect uses media events to spread his philosophy with misstatements, inaccuracies and out and out lies. It is important that Americans who believe in free speech and the freedom of the press speak up whenever and wherever to protect these rights.
Remember A Face In The Crowd. It nds with a media outlet airing a statement that showed the evil in the heart of Lonesome Rhodes. In the story it saves the country. As more of us speak the truth, we need the support of all Americans who believe in the Constitution.

I thought it totally inappropriate for Streep to launch into this tirade. It, unfortunately, will remind me whenever I see her on the big screen, that she chose to handle this great accolade with these comments. It takes away from her great talent. I realize the free speech comments but there's also grace and humility that could have presented. Very disappointed.

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