29 January 2017

Art & politics

At the time, I tweeted a kind word about Meryl Streep's speech referencing the (then forthcoming) Trump administration, though I had mixed feelings about it.

For instance, her opening assertion that the glamorous and successful Hollywood people in the room constituted “the most vilified segments in American society” lacks perspective, to say the least. So I thought that — bracing as that was — I didn't need any more earnest actors talking about our national moment of dread.

I was wrong.

Because David Harbor's speech given tonight is a marvel: it talks about the news without talking about the news, by reaching down to fundamental things about the craft of acting, the nature of art, and (dear to my heart) the virtues of genre stories.

On behalf of this fearless and talented cast ...


I would just like to say that in light of all that's going on in the world today it's difficult to celebrate the already celebrated Stranger Things.

But: this award from you — who take your craft seriously and earnestly believe, like me, that great acting can change the world — is a call to arms from our fellow craftsmen and women to go deeper ... and through our art to battle against fear, self-centeredness, and exclusivity of our predominantly narcissistic culture. And through our craft to cultivate a more empathetic and understanding society by revealing intimate truths that serve as a forceful reminder to folks that when they feel broken and afraid and tired: they are not alone.

We are united in that we are all human beings, and we are all together on this horrible, painful, joyous, exciting, and mysterious ride that is being alive.

Now: as we act in the continuing narrative of Stranger Things we 1983 midwesterners will repel bullies. We will shelter freaks and outcasts, those who have no home. We will get past the lies. We will hunt monsters. And when we are at a loss amidst the hypocrisy and the casual violence of certain individuals & institutions we will, as per chief Jim Hopper, punch some people in the face when they seek to destroy the weak and the disenfranchised and the marginalized.

And we will do it all with soul, with heart, and with joy.

We thank you for this responsibility.

A few things I feel I must underline:

  • He opens by giving his castmates the highest compliment I think an actor can give another actor: fearless
  • This is the case for seemingly trifling art in times like these. And it is correct.
  • That last word: responsibility. Bingo.