Is this a good time to mention that Meryl Streep dated a football player when she was young? ‘Cause it feels like a good time to point that out, along with the fact that a photo of her once appeared in “Harvard Beats Yale 29-29,” a wonderful (if underappreciated) movie about . . . a very big football game.
This is now apropos because she seemingly took a shot at football, as well as mixed martial arts, in a Golden Globes speech that was strong on anti-Trump rhetoric and perceived to be short on the realization that people can appreciate fine arts alongside the NFL and UFC. In fact, Trevor Noah made that point Monday night on “The Daily Show,” zeroing in on Streep’s comment that “Hollywood is crawling with outsiders and foreigners. And if you kick ’em all out, you’ll have nothing to watch but football and mixed martial arts, which are not the arts.”
Noah agreed that Streep’s slam of the president-elect was a “highlight” of her “distinguished” career except for “this one tiny part” where she was “tone-deaf.”
“I understand what Meryl Streep was trying to do, and I don’t know if I could have done better, but here’s the thing I feel like we could all learn as people,” Noah said. “You don’t have to make your point by [dumping] on someone else’s thing, because a lot of people love football and the arts. I know yesterday I was watching the football with friends and then I went on to watch the Golden Globes.”
Yeah! In fact, many people, like Noah, happened to be watching a certain professional football encounter in Green Bay rather than the first part of the Golden Globes, but, really, there is no reason for anyone to choose between the red carpet and the frozen tundra.
“A lot of the time,” he continued, “football and the arts go hand in hand.”
Like when they combine in a movie starring Streep? Or how the actress dated Yale fullback Bob Levin in 1968. (See? She doesn’t hate football.)
The line between the NFL, MMA and the arts is further blurred by the fact that UFC star Ronda Rousey (to name just one) has a budding film career and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has IMDB movie credits for playing himself in “The Blind Side” and “Draft Day.”
And Noah joked that Goodell has some acting chops aside from those appearances.
“For instance, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell acts like he cares about concussions,” he said. “You see? They go together. They go together.”
Others were angry that Streep had looped their sport into the speech. The NFL had no comment, but UFC President Dana White, a Trump supporter who addressed the Republican Convention last summer, called out the actress, who supported Hillary Clinton. White referred to Streep as an “uppity, 80-year-old lady” who isn’t really in UFC’s target demographic and defended his sport’s wide appeal. (Streep, by the way, is 67.) “Of course it’s an art,” he told TMZ. “These fighters, these men and women are so talented . . . saying something stupid like that is like saying . . . she’s not a talented actress, which she is.”
Scott Coker, the president of Bellator MMA, tweeted a letter to Streep along with an invitation to an event later in the month. Calling himself a “lifelong fan” of her work, he wrote: “The global sport of mixed martial arts celebrates male and female athletes from around the world who works years tirelessly honing their craft and — yes — art. They come from every country and every walk of life.”
Plenty of football and MMA fans cut right to the chase, although many, unlike the president-elect, do not think she is an overrated actress.
The conversation spilled over into coverage of college football’s national championship game Monday night, with readers posting on The Washington Post’s game story.
DrNo1976 wrote: So Meryll [sic] Streep thinks football is not entertainment? Or second rate entertainment? She’s done nothing like that in terms of entertainment value…ever.
And Laughingcat replied: Right. She’s only the most successful actress in history in terms of achievements and awards, been front and center for decades at the top of her game in one of the toughest fields to stay active, relevant, and working, and has earned more money than most pro players ever do, I’d wager even pro players would disagree with you. Ms. Streep is a legend in the industry. And extraordinarily admired by millions.