“Take your broken heart and make it into art.”
— Carrie Fisher (via Meryl Streep)
After her Golden Globes acceptance speech, we can call Meryl Streep “The Accidental Journalist.”
CrankyYank has been on hiatus for a few weeks, so I wasn’t able to jump on this as soon as I’d have liked. Streep’s words may not be recent but the sentiments are timeless, speaking directly to all things near and dear: art, the creatives behind it, and the responsibility artists have in representing honor, compassion, elegance and empathy.
“When the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose.” — Meryl Streep
The strongest thread of Streep’s speech came when she identified actors who came from hard-scrabble upbringings to reach the height of the acting craft. She made it about them, not about her. People like Viola Davis, Sarah Paulson and others whom she named (seemingly) off the top of her head. Even though the six-minute speech was for her 2017 Cecil B. deMille award for lifetime achievement, she used that platform to protest Tangerine Satan without even naming him.
“Hollywood is crawling with outsiders and foreigners,” she said. “And if you kick ’em all out you’ll have nothing to watch but football and mixed-marial arts.”
She closed her address by calling on all of her “well-heeled” Hollywood colleagues to support the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). “Hold power to account. That’s why our founders enshrined the press and its freedoms in our constitution. We’re gonna need them going forward and they’ll need us to safeguard the truth.”
“Hollywood is crawling with outsiders and foreigners,” Streep said. “And if you kick ’em all out you’ll have nothing to watch but football and mixed-marial arts.”
“We have to remind each other of the priviledge and the responsibility of the act of empathy.”
That is a truth for all of us to heed. I didn’t expect to get such a high-level lesson in the importance of storytelling, but this was it for me. Actors are storytellers, first and foremost; journalists, the good ones, share that same mission albeit from a different modality.
I’ve had the privilege to be on both sides of that equation—performing has and always will be in my blood. Most recently I had a two-season stint with an improv troupe here in Atlanta, and I’ll continue to support local theaters and actors all over this great city.
This turned out to be the perfect convergence of two professions I hold in the highest regard, and Streep’s speech reminded me to stay hopeful and press on—today, and every day.
A Who’s Who of Awesomeness will be gathering today to perform a “Concert for America: Stand Up, Sing Out!” in Manhattan. The event promises to showcase the “diversity and hope that is America at its best.” Talk about the best-ever counter-programming: the concert will air live on Facebook on the same day that Orangina Thinskin will be
coronated inaugurated as POTUS.
As sad a milestone as today is for this country—for starters, based on the parade of incompetent dinguses who Trump has nominated for key cabinet positions—we need these voices loud and strong more than ever.
I was able to reach Julia Murney via e-mail and I asked her about what the concert means for fans on the same day as Trump is
“Lots of people are scared and depressed,” she says. “Music (no matter how much the incoming group will try to get rid of it in their budget cuts) is a way we can provide an escape and a release.”
She’s right: in the past day we learned that the Trump team has its sights set on obliterating National Endowment of the Arts and a number of other arts groups.
— Talking Points Memo (@TPM) January 19, 2017
As much as the forces might try to break down some of our most revered creative institutions, we has creatives and storytellers must not back down. We must not cower, because that’s what they want us to do. We must not be silent, because their success depends on it. We must never give up, because they’ll gain ground when opposed by a hopeless spirit.
— Concert For America (@Concert4America) January 19, 2017
— Will Leads An 'Otherwise Blameless Life' (@bywillpollock) January 19, 2017
What does it say about a political operative’s character that they can be an entrenched adversary one minute—only to wholly abandon an entire set of values to push a new candidate paying their salary? Do KellyAnne Conway’s anti-Trump sentiments just magically disappear?
Actually they don’t, as Samantha Bee ably reminds us. Some of Kell’s statements about Trump in her “previous life” were in support of an equally disgusting candidate in Ted Cruz. In her mind, pre-salary-change, Trump was:
- “Too cozy with the establishment”
- “Proving the danger of saying untrue things”
- “Avoiding releasing his taxes”
Trump has nominated five people from Goldman Sachs; has continued to lie in his continuing campaign-style speeches; and still, to this day, hasn’t released his tax returns so we can get a better sense of his ties to Russia.
Media Matters has a great write up with some video clips showing the political acrobat KellyAnne Conway’s Dr. Jekyl & Mr. Hyde highwire act.
Of course I’d *much rather watch Kate McKinnon spoof her on SNL. Enjoy.
Editor’s note: We welcome guest blogger/reviewer Rob “Reenage” O’Connor to CrankyYank for the first, and hopefully not last, to review the Season 6 premiere of Homeland. I asked Rob to write the review (which I will counter-point next week) because I had such a negative reaction to the premiere, particularly with its directing and writing. Oh and also, Rob’s a great writer/thinker so we need his voice out there. 🙂
Much like Season 5, Homeland‘s Season 6 premiere appears to be starting slowly. We follow Carrie as she conducts her day around New York. She drops in on Peter Quinn, who is suffering terribly at the VA hospital. The sarin nerve gas used by the terrorists in Berlin has taken a tremendous physical—and as we see later, psychological—toll on everyone’s favorite sexy CIA wet man. Well, at the very least he’s my favorite sexy CIA wet man.
As we follow Carrie to her office, she encounters Otto, her erstwhile boss and, we learn today, spurned lover. Otto has been persistent, it seems—the tension was palpable; and while that particular story seems that it may resolve (Otto appears to take “no” for an answer this time) he implores Carrie not to continue sacrificing herself for duty. From where I sit, I agree with Otto – some days Carrie needs to come down off the cross.
(From the editor: “We need the wood!”—quote from Sordid Lives)
We also meet a Muslim teen who works with a friend to film informational videos about jihadist attacks that have occurred in the past around the city. He posts the videos on a website with information about (or for?) terrorists.
And finally, Dar Adal and Saul are frustrated by the new President-Elect (it’s a woman!) and her apparent intention to cut both foreign and domestic intelligence and covert operations. Is it just me, or does someone out there trust Dar? The funny thing is that it always seems like he’s up to something super shady, but they’ve never paid that off. Sad!
Overall, it feels like just another day in New York. And yet, more than in season 5, you can see the writers laying the first threads of some exciting story lines to come.
- In a scene that I’m sure the writers hoped would feel violent – and yet is probably about 10% as violent as real life – the Muslim teen is arrested for supporting terrorists; Carrie is part of the legal team representing him. We see him praying towards Mecca in his cell.
- Peter visits a drug-dealing prostitute who conspires with a thief to rob veterans of their benefit money; Carrie rescues him and takes him to her house to stay because clearly the VA hospital is no longer helping him. Peter hallucinates and tries to enter Carrie’s locked bedroom.
- Dar closes the door on a secret meeting with a sympathetic senator and a Mossad agent, observing that it’s good Saul isn’t present.
- The new President-Elect is seen mourning her son, who was killed on his third tour in Iraq.
While it doesn’t have the rollicking start of Season 1—honestly, how can you compete with that? —Season 6’s kickoff is much more compelling than Season 5, which took several episodes to establish a clear direction. We’ll set aside the occasional sniping about directing—seriously? directing?—I’ve heard from some people. Ahem.
This season’s stories have some exciting possibilities in them already, and offer the taste of some real meat as they begin to intertwine. ❏
When Jennifer Holliday sings, we sit up straight and listen.
So it was with great uproar and hubbub that we learned Holliday had initially agreed to sing at Kim Jon Orange’s
doll-hand finger-waving inauguration. As she told Yahoo:
“It was my really honest desire that my voice could be used — not everybody loves the way I sing, but still — my voice could be used as an instrument of healing and unity, and I thought I’ve had instructions from the Obamas and the Clintons that it was a go-ahead. We were going to do a ceasefire for one day, and I just thought it was OK.”
Yeah about that. After consideration, she reversed course, and wrote an open letter to her LGBT fans that she sent exclusively to The Wrap:
Please know that I HEAR YOU and I feel your pain. The LGBT Community was mostly responsible for birthing my career and I am deeply indebted to you… You have loved me faithfully and unconditionally and for so many years you provided me with work even though my star had long since faded.
This is a true statement, which is why I led this section with the clip from Arista Records’ 15th Anniversary Special. She dedicated “And I Am Telling You” to Michael Bennett, who was a Tony-award winning choreographer, writer and director. (He died of AIDS three years prior to that performance at Radio City Music Hall in 1990.)
Jennifer Holliday received death threats after agreeing to perform. But she is the real fucking deal. She’s been fighting for LGBT causes since the launch of her career with Dreamgirls.
My tributes to George Michael and Carrie Fisher have been moved to next week. Make sure to tune in!
Today is not the end, it is the beginning.
It’s the beginning of a new force, a new hope, a fresh start. A start of a new collective force the likes of which nobody has ever seen.
Today is an initiation of a resolve to fight, assert and persuade when we see something go awry.
This week’s Cure Your Crankies moment comes in the form a photograph I took while on vacation in Ireland. I named it “Beginning of Wisdom” in honor of Leonard Nimoy, who uttered those words as spock in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.
Phone calls, state-party meetings, social-media presence, organizing—even that coworker you pass in the hallway. State your case and make it known. Speak.
Seek out experiences that change you. Keep an open mind, but stick to your core convictions.
Today is not the end. It’s the beginning of a new “we.”
That’s a wrap guys. We’ll see you right back here next Thursday afternoon at 2 p.m.
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