71 responses

  1. Leni
    January 9, 2014

    Well said, Sasha. Streep stating the facts (hideous as they are) about someone (even Walt Disney, gasp) should be applauded, not torn apart. Nothing she said should affect her own or Thompson’s chances at Oscar. It’s not like she went on a racist, misogynistic, anti-Semitic rant of her own. Then perhaps she’d be in trouble.

  2. KT
    January 9, 2014

    I really think Meryl is a very special person. Just looking at the photo you provided, it shows someone who is self-deprecating, modest, and willing to give a boost to her peers. I may not agree with the slights on Walt Disney, or the motivations behind the talk (Streep never ever speaks to be controversial), but her talk really was wonderful when I read it last night. She’s charming, and she said some wonderful things about Emma Thompson.

  3. KT
    January 9, 2014

    And I totally love that she called Tarantino out for essentially being a prick. Has anyone seen his panel interviews? Grabbing Peter Jackson’s glass at THR roundtable. Going to the bathroom at a panel with Cameron and Bigelow. Cameron looked like he couldn’t stand Tarantino, and Bigelow actually said more incisive comments about filmmaking, not to be brash and know-it-all, but to show a deep appreciation and thought for the art form. Glad somebody said what so many people see.

  4. Chris Price
    January 9, 2014

    Walt Disney was more than likely a sniveling ass, and the Disney machine is the fucking Evil Empire. What’s funny is that is precisely what detractors were up in arms about with regards to Saving Mr. Banks. They said, “Here goes the evil Disney machine again, distorting the truth and picking on a dead woman.” Those same people are going to rag on Meryl Streep for saying basically the same shit they said in their criticisms? Sexism is alive and thriving.

    “Emma thinks, ‘Will this be helpful?’”

    That right there is Meryl’s point. Emma Thompson wasn’t in the business of distorting the truth of PL Travers or the history of Mary Poppins’ journey to the screen. She thought long and hard beforeaccepting the role, and also before she stepped in front of the camera. What we received was a masterful, carefully considered performance by a consummate pro (a pro with a big heart and a great deal of passion for her work). Meryl was trying to make sure people didn’t forget that. Good on you, Sasha, for posting this.

    • Ryan Adams
      January 9, 2014

      Read ( hilarious) Team Rodent : How Disney Devours the World by Carl Hiaasen…

      …and also The Disney Version by Richard Schickel — to learn more about the side of the Disney Empire that DisneyInc probably won’t be adapting for a Christmas movie.

      There’s another book analyzing the ways Disney gets inside the heads of kids, but I can’t think of the title offhand.

      What other Citizen Walt biographies are there?

  5. Bryce Forestieri
    January 9, 2014

    I would have loved to have seen Meryl Streep in a Quentin Tarantino film. He said he’d love to work with her.

  6. daveinprogress
    January 9, 2014

    Fascinating item! I am strangely surprised at which films and individuals the smear and vivisection campaigns land in front of. Although i haven’t seen ‘Saving Mr Banks’ yet, I’m not sure that this would cost Emma her 3rd Oscar. As long as it doesn’t preclude her from making the final 5. This year’s race seems to be between Bullock, Dench and Blanchett.

  7. GL
    January 9, 2014

    Amazing piece.

  8. gsgsgsgsg
    January 9, 2014

    Second only to Blanchett’s performance? That fucking made me laugh. Sasha’s credibility is going down each year.

  9. Paddy Mulholland
    January 9, 2014

    Sasha’s credibility is going down each year.

    It’s just an opinion. It has nothing to do with anybody’s credibility. Grow up.

  10. Daveylow
    January 9, 2014

    Well said, Sasha. I had to look really hard to find in other articles to find where Meryl had praised Emma, and no one wanted to print the poem Meryl wrote for her.

  11. Tony
    January 9, 2014

    I read this story last night. I take a backseat to no one in my love of Meryl Streep, but some of what she said was lame. Walt Disney was a sexist employer in 1938? Who WASN’T a sexist employer in 1938?

  12. Alper
    January 9, 2014

    Meryl Streep and Emma Thompson. They are pretty but also they have no chance. :)

  13. Jade Fox
    January 9, 2014

    First off, I would be careful in using the time period to dismiss Disney’s sexism. There are many people in Hollywood today who have power who haven’t really evolved past Disney’s beliefs on many things.
    And besides not everyone in that era agreed with Disney’s views.

    And frankly I’m glad Meryl separated Thompson from that. Too many people tend to confuse the actor for the character and even though PL Travers hated Disney from what I understand the movie whitewashed their history. And that’s not surprising given that it’s Disney who made this movie.

    Oh and there’s a lot of people out there who didn’t know what Walt Disney was really like so Meryl telling the truth was probably eye opening for them.

  14. unlikely hood
    January 9, 2014

    I would give my new car to sit in a room and listen to Meryl Streep reply to every voice mail she ever received. LOVE HER.

    Sasha, strong article. Glad you posted it.

    Chris Price and Jade Fox, well said.

    When do we get to hear Julie Andrews weigh in on any of this?

  15. Paddy Mulholland
    January 9, 2014

    some of what she said was lame. Walt Disney was a sexist employer in 1938? Who WASN’T a sexist employer in 1938?

    That doesn’t excuse it! He was sexist! And he’s widely celebrated for his character and his contribution to cinema, and rarely called out for his sexism. Bad is bad.

  16. Jackie
    January 9, 2014

    Thank you so much for this article! THANK YOU!
    I admire Meryl Streep for speaking her mind and for being a “rabid, man-eating feminist”. Streep obviously is as good a person as she is an actress. Hats off to Ms Streep! This world needs more women like her and Thompson.

    And I completely agree with Paddy Mulholland! Sexist is sexist. Bad is bad. Doesn’t matter if its the 1930s or 2014

  17. Antoinette
    January 9, 2014

    Which brings me to awards season. Which is really ridiculous.

    Okay, then. Bye. :P

    *waits for Eminem’s response*

  18. marcoVenis
    January 9, 2014

    Thank you, Sasha. I finally managed to read Streep’s speech in its entirety, and she definitely was misquoted by most.

  19. Pepper
    January 9, 2014

    The 1930s were the era of Marie Curie and Amelia Earhart, not to mention screenwriters like Anita Loos and Frances Marion. Walt Disney deserves to be called out on his ridiculous views.

  20. AdamA
    January 9, 2014

    “Who wasn’t a sexist employer in 1938?” It isn’t mentioned in a movie ABOUT his professional relationship with a woman. So how much of a given is it, really, this sexist past?

    But you’re making part of Sasha’s point for her–Meryl’s speech wasn’t about dissing Walt. It was about contextualizing a feminist woman’s participation in this film, in the film industry in general, and big questions about art and politics. And celebrating how that woman has been doing that (amazingly) for decades now.

  21. steve50
    January 9, 2014

    (sitting in for Eminem, Antoinette)

    If it wasn’t for awards season – which is truly ridiculous, as Meryl states – we wouldn’t be vetting contestants and subjects down to the ass hairs looking for some squalor to expose.

    Yes, Disney was a sexist bigot, as were -and ARE – many others in the movies business. For most, they paid big money to have their legends created and in many cases, fabricated, then enshrined for posterity. Just like our political figures and great leaders of industry do and have always done(Henry Ford = jerk), the movie business is no different.

    But only in awards season does it matter, right? Fun facts to play with, to throw around and see what sticks.

  22. Jason Travis
    January 9, 2014

    The real question, though, is if the media will spin this out of control? I admire Sasha defending her speech, and I didn’t find anything wrong with it- she was speaking her mind and being a spokesperson for women’s right, lib, etc.

    But will this effect the Oscar race with her and Thompson being nominees? What’s the rest of the world saying?

  23. Michelle Belaskie
    January 9, 2014

    BRAVA!!! You rock, Sasha. This is why you are one of the best critics around. You get it when no one else does. Thank you for this column.

  24. Jeff
    January 9, 2014

    A million thanks, Sasha, for an article that finally got to the heart of what Streep was conveying in her marvelous speech!

    I’ve been troubled the last few weeks reading so many articles about “Streep fatigue” and even more troubled the last couple days reading about the “hatred”.

    I will never quite understand the desire of our society to bring someone down who is so obviously at the top of his/her game. Streep is, and will always be, in a class of her own!

  25. Butler
    January 9, 2014

    To follow a tangent for a moment… Streep was not only calling Tarantino irascible (not exactly dissing, just describing his personality), but also calling him (and Eminem) very creative. I’m sure QT wouldn’t mind being put in the same category as Mozart and Van Gogh; maybe Streep’s chances of a future collaboration are still intact.

  26. Gage Creed
    January 9, 2014

    Recent history made me come to the following conclusion: If you want to get lashed out at, give a speech.

  27. Gage Creed
    January 9, 2014

    Jeff, that desire is called ENVY.

  28. Bob Burns
    January 9, 2014

    thanks for this, Sasha.


  29. Ricky
    January 9, 2014

    This is all so ridiculous.

    I was at the ceremony and you know what the response was to her speech? Laughter, applause, and a turn to your friend to say how brilliant and funny Meryl Streep is. That’s it. She gave a lovely speech in support of her friend, (who, by the way, also gave a fantastic speech), which had a few historical details in there.

    The point is, no one was incensed. No one walked out. No one cared. When a celebrity mentions a historical fact in an untelevised speech, it is not news. There is so much to talk about this season. I would hate to see any more airtime (so to speak) devoted to this nonsense.

  30. JFromAZ
    January 9, 2014

    Every time I see Meryl Streep in interviews or on television, I always think the same thing: Meryl Streep is awesome. Ditto Emma Thompson. That is all.

  31. Antoinette
    January 9, 2014

    If it wasn’t for awards season – which is truly ridiculous, as Meryl states

    So why are you here, steve? I’m not going to ridicule something that I participate in. There are a million and one other things to do besides participate in awards season as a filmmaker, a member of the media, or even as a fan. So anyone who thinks it’s ridiculous looks pretty stupid participating in it, in my opinion.

    • Ryan Adams
      January 9, 2014

      So why are you here, steve? I’m not going to ridicule something that I participate in.

      Do you think maybe some people like to talk about movies with other people who like to talk about movies, and over the past decade this site has become a place where longtime friends can find each other year round — to talk about movies?

      Do you see me talking about the Oscars every single day?

      If you do please shoot me, because that’s not me — it’s a Oscar Pod Person clone who’s impersonating me. Kill it with fire.

  32. steve50
    January 9, 2014

    My point was, Antoinette, that if it weren’t for awards season, nobody would give enough of a flying f**k about Walt Disney for it to even make the media.

    Awards are ridiculous. That’s what’s fun about them. The point is Streep knows that, as does Thompson. This is peripheral to what they do for a living and they make the most of it. I love watching them, especially under these circumstances.

    So I’m here to enjoy myself, to answer your question. I love the movies I love, and like a carnival game, each year it’s fun to see how close the beanbag comes to the clown’s mouth.

  33. Zach
    January 9, 2014

    I was unaware that Emma Thompson was being criticized for the sugarcoated portrayal of Disney in the film. Wait — shouldn’t that fall on Tom Hanks, or better yet, the screenwriters? Or better yet, no one at all, since this was a movie about the making of MARY POPPINS, not a Walt Disney BIOPIC?

    I now understand the context and intention behind Meryl’s speech. Unfortunately, from where I was standing, no one was talking about Disney before, and they are now.

  34. brandz
    January 9, 2014

    Sasha, you are exactly right, absolutely spot on. I can’t believe how the media spins these things, or how people interpret them. Score one for Streep.

  35. JamDenTel
    January 9, 2014

    I didn’t think Thompson’s performance was worthy of an Oscar–especially not a THIRD Oscar. She was good, of course, but…I think there are at least three better choices out there (Brie Larson, Sandra Bullock, and Judi Dench–and I would personally put Greta Gerwig in as well).

  36. Antoinette
    January 9, 2014

    Awards are ridiculous. That’s what’s fun about them. The point is Streep knows that, as does Thompson.

    Good to know.

  37. filmboymichael
    January 9, 2014

    jeez – and here I have been reading nothing but raves for Streep’s speech. It was hilarious, pointed and truthful.

  38. Jake Bart
    January 9, 2014

    @ KT

    Not for nothing, but it’d take a lot more than going to the bathroom or grabbing the wrong glass to be the biggest asshole in the room when that room includes James Cameron.

    Also, I first misread the anecdote as QT “grabbing Peter Jackson’s ass” and the image my imagination conjured is almost as disturbing and hilarious enough to belong in a QT film.

  39. K. Bowen
    January 9, 2014

    An American male from the middle of the 20th Century was dismissive of women in the workplace?


  40. Isaac David Quesada
    January 9, 2014

    Just saw August: Osage County, can´t belive Streep isnt the frontrunner. Hands down the best performance of the year.

  41. Jay
    January 9, 2014

    Streep is always a class act and a very smart woman, and most people trashing her for this are people who just read the misleading headlines and don’t even know the history behind it all and the point she was trying to make, the thing is, no matter what, Meryl will always be a role model in my eyes.

  42. joe
    January 9, 2014

    LMAO reading comments about Bullock’s performance as one of the best this year and better than Emma’s.
    SHE COULD HARDLY ACT in Gravity. She was lame.

  43. Pierre de Plume
    January 10, 2014

    Good for Meryl Streep.

    And by the way, Walt Disney was no progressive icon. He was a staunch Republican and strong anti-Communist who testified during the Red Scare against some of his Hollywood colleagues. He favored censorship and regulated the behaviors of counterculture hippies and gay couples at Disneyland. He may have been a genius but he was also something of a tight-ass.

  44. Q Mark
    January 10, 2014

    I’m not sure this hurts Streep or Thompson’s nomination chances whatsoever (not that they care). This actually might hurt Hanks’ chances at a supporting nomination — I’m surprised it took this long for someone to bring up the “yeah, Walt Disney was an anti-semite jackass” card. I can see some voters taking exception to the gap between reality and the twinkly old grandfather version of Walt that Hanks portrays in the film.

    Anyway, this is already more words than I care to expend about Saving Mr. Banks, which was a thoroughly average movie and not worth mentioning as a legit candidate in this year of great films. I really hope SMB doesn’t get nominated and sully what might be, film-for-film, one of the single best Best Picture slates in Oscar history.

  45. filmboymichael
    January 10, 2014

    People who are freaking out over chances of nominations know that this speech happened the evening before nomination ballots were due, right? I hardly think that 12-15 hrs would make that much of a difference…..

  46. Peter Panavision
    January 10, 2014

    Having read Streep’s speech a couple of times I’ve come to disagree with Sasha’s opinion. Streep says at the start that she has a long version and short version. The long version that she gives is not really a long version but actually two different speeches. She jumps from one speech to the next, paragraph to paragraph.

    One part of the speech is a fairly standard salute to Thompson which was probably the original short version of the speech. The second part of the speech is calling out Disney for his personal failures…though she tempers it with the whole “irascible” artist disclaimer.

    The two speeches really have nothing to do with each other. The part about Disney is ALL ABOUT STREEP. It is Streep grandstanding as a feminist and accuser of anti-Semitism.
    As you can see, Streep has gotten all of the publicity from this speech. It is her face that is plastered all over the media.

    Do I think that Streep did this to help or hurt Thompson’s or her own Oscar chances? Absolutely not. It has nothing to do with that.
    This is about someone with a HUGE EGO who needs to make herself the center of attention. This is totally subconscious on Streep’s part but it is as clear as day.

    I will bet you that Emma Thompson is smart enough to see this and also smart enough to keep her mouth shut.

  47. Sonja
    January 10, 2014

    I do think Meryl’s smart woman. She knows how a diss like that have consequences. She dares to risk them. For whatever reason, but I do sense she wanted to do this for Emma.
    I highly doubt a diss of Disney could HELP Meryl’s Oscar chances. I mean… HOW?
    Disney is still the most awarded individual, so… AMPAS seemed to love him, despite parts of his personality. Maybe they didn’t know or didn’t care.
    Plus she has a movie out next Christmas from-ironically-Disney.
    So she MUST know the consequences that could or more probably will follow. She was willing to hurt her own chances. What a woman.
    Of course awards season are ridiculous (entertaining for us) and everyone knows it. Why do you participle then? Because you want the price! You want to see who wins and who looses.
    Joaquin Phoenix said last year Oscars are “Bullshit”. They nominated him anyway… and he showed up.
    Oscars still matter.

  48. Mike
    January 10, 2014

    I hope this marvelous speech would shift the undeserved criticism that Meryl Streep has been getting in these Oscar speculating websites. Just because you have your certain favorites to get nominated, doesn’t mean you have to criticize Meryl’s body of work in a demeaning and hateful manner. If people could get over the fact that she’s won 3 times before, and the fact that August Osage County is not a critically acclaimed film, they would realize that her performance in that film is one of the greatest film acting she has ever done, and definitely one of the best this year (only second to Blanchett, in my opinion).

  49. Mike
    January 10, 2014

    The way some people have been talking about Streep in this site is definitely undeserved. We are not talking about Hilary Swank here people, we are talking about arguably the greatest actress of all time.

  50. Jorge
    January 10, 2014

    Amazing piece Sasha. Thank you for your insight

  51. Pierre de Plume
    January 10, 2014

    Peter Panavision:

    The part about Disney is ALL ABOUT STREEP. It is Streep grandstanding as a feminist and accuser of anti-Semitism. . . . This is about someone with a HUGE EGO who needs to make herself the center of attention. This is totally subconscious on Streep’s part but it is as clear as day.

    This brings subjectivity to new heights. :)

  52. Peter Panavision
    January 10, 2014

    Pierre de Plume:

    Yeah, you are right. But here’s some more subjectivity :)

    Here is a piece of the speech which I think is revealing….

    “Is this helpful?” Not, “Will it build my brand?” Not, “Will it give me billions?” Not, “Does this express me? Me! Me! My unique and fabulous self, into all eternity, in every universe, for all time!” That’s a phrase from my Disney contract. I’m serious! “Will I get a sequel out of it, or a boat? Or a perfume contract?”

    Streep is referring to a contract which all Disney employees must sign which says that they will never do anything to HURT the brand and that they will do everything in their power to build the brand. In the past all Disney employees were required to sign the contract and also spend time dressed as a Disney character at a park in order to appreciate the power the brand had over families and children.

    Streep is currently working for Disney. So she is basically daring them to fire her (which they will never do). Her comments definitely were designed to hurt the brand according to Disney corporate standards.

    So ultimately I guess that Streep was having a little fun, but also probably criticizing the fact that the Thompson movie was a sugar coated portrayal of Disney. I also bet that Thompson was aware of what she might do and they both were having a giggle about it.

    Ultimately, it was all good publicity for the stars and the movies.

    • Ryan Adams
      January 10, 2014

      Streep is referring to a contract which all Disney employees must sign…

      No she isn’t.

      Streep is currently working for Disney.

      No she isn’t. This isn’t 1940. Actors are not studio employees.

      At any rate, production on Into the Woods has ended. It’s wrapped. “Fire her?” What’s Disney going to do, cut Streep’s character out of the movie because Meryl Streep dares to suggest Walt Disney wasn’t a saint?

    • Ryan Adams
      January 10, 2014

      a contract which all Disney employees must sign which says that they will never do anything to HURT the brand and that they will do everything in their power to build the brand.

      ruh roh, is Miley Cyrus in trouble?

  53. filmboymichael
    January 10, 2014

    She was just truth tellin…..sorry, I couldn’t resist.

  54. Peter Panavision
    January 10, 2014

    OK FBM, I agree. After all is said and done, you summed it up perfectly.

  55. K. Bowen
    January 10, 2014

    The thing is, if there’s going to be an Oscar prohibition on all characters who don’t meet present-day standards of equality and justice, then should we start by withdrawing Daniel Day-Lewis’ Oscar for Lincoln? What are they going to say about Leo’s upcoming project on Woodrow Wilson?

  56. Peter Panavision
    January 10, 2014

    To Ryan,

    Streep is referring to a contract which all Disney employees must sign…

    No she isn’t.

    In her speech, Streep says, ” That’s a phrase from my Disney contract. I’m serious!”

    Also Ryan, if you sign a contract, you are basically an employee.

    Of course Disney wouldn’t fire her. I just said that what she said was technically against the contract she signed. Another person of lesser stature however could very well be fired for making such statements.

    In any case I know nothing, just speculating, like everybody else here. We’re talking about show business here. It’s all in fun.

    • Ryan Adams
      January 10, 2014

      In her speech, Streep says, ” That’s a phrase from my Disney contract. I’m serious!”

      This is a phrase in Meryl Streep’s Disney contract? This:
      “Does this express me? Me! Me! My unique and fabulous self, into all eternity, in every universe, for all time!”
      – (That’s a phrase from my Disney contract. I’m serious!)

      There’s a thing some people do sometimes when they’re making a joke. They say “I’m serious!” when actually, no, they aren’t.

  57. Steve T.
    January 10, 2014

    Are Meryl Streep and Emma Thompson awesome? Yes. Were Hollywood and the Disney Studios sexist institutions 75 years ago? Absolutely. Does sexism exist today? Of course. But let’s put this historical “truth” in context. Streep quoted from a studio policy in 1938 (women had only had the right to vote in the US for 19 years). Just three years later, in 1941 (22 years before Kennedy signed the equal pay act into law), this is what Walt Disney said:

    “If a woman can do the work as well, she is worth as much as a man. The girl artists have the right to expect the same chances for advancement as men, and I honestly believe they may eventually contribute something to this business that men never would or could.”

  58. Peter Panavision
    January 10, 2014

    Ryan. First of all, is Miley Cyrus still with Disney? I doubt it. They still rerun Hannah Montana but I believe Miley is signed with another company.

    Second, I believe that Streep is talking about an actual Disney contract. I know about this contract. I worked in local television when Disney bought ABC. I learned about this contract and the requirement to dress up as a Disney character from ABC employees who went through it. Disney is OBSESSED with their brand image.

    • Ryan Adams
      January 10, 2014

      I dated a female Disney animator one summer and I never heard that they were required to dress up as Disney characters. (sure, she did that, in bed, but I always thought she did it of her own free will).

      First of all, is Miley Cyrus still with Disney? I doubt it.
      Is Meryl “still with Disney?” No.

  59. Peter Panavision
    January 10, 2014

    Ryan. I don’t think they require everybody to dress up as characters any longer, but they did at one time. So what was your favorite character in bed?

  60. Nic V
    January 11, 2014

    Nice piece.

  61. Antoinette
    January 11, 2014

    Of course awards season are ridiculous

    Oscars still matter.

    I can’t keep two opposite thoughts in my head like that.

    Anyway, I did think Meryl “AwardsSeasonAteMyBaby” Streep was gunning for Hanks and not Emma Thompson. She seemed to take offense that people may have been getting Uncle Walt from the film because the lovable Hanks was playing him and she wanted to “set things straight” and remind everyone that Disney was a complete bastard, according to her information. Hanks is the one who should be pissed. Thompson is just collateral damage.

  62. Fanboy
    January 13, 2014


    Dear Meryl,

    Get your shit straight. Besides, he’s been dead for 50 years…pick on someone who’s still living…

    P.S.-Fuck you.

  63. Sluggo
    January 18, 2014

    This is Streep taking a moment that was meant to honor another wonderfully talented and accomplished actress
    and hijacking it to expound on
    “Disney According To Streep”.
    All the allegations about Disney
    are true, as much as can be proven
    decades after the fact,
    but they are hardly what is called news.
    Someone posted here, and I paraphrase:
    ‘She’s working on a Disney film and dissing Disney ! It’s as if she’s daring
    them to fire her, which they never will !
    What a woman ! ‘
    Someone else responded that:
    ‘She’s not working for Disney . . .
    she doesn’t work for corporations . . . ‘ ,
    something to that effect.
    Well, that’s remarkably dumb.
    Yes, she IS working for Disney,
    the corporation, because that’s
    where all her millions in salary
    are coming from.
    I actually don’t care if she disses Disney
    or not,
    but if she really wanted to make
    a statement, how about NOT working
    for the successors and assigns of
    a man she finds so obviously repellant ?
    ” . . . The founder of your feast was a
    misogynist and an anti-Semite and
    as a man-eating Feminist I am diametrically opposed to everything
    he stood for . . .
    . . . but yes, I will take your money !
    And then I will tell all the world
    the truth !!! ”
    Fuck off.

  64. Estelita
    March 7, 2014

    I don’t like when people talk trash about uncle Walt. Leave him alone. Walt Disney is the best thing happened to America. Sorry Meryl and those from his family who doesn’t like him. Get a life people, and live uncle Walt to rest in peace.
    America is nothing without Walt Disney.

  65. Chance
    March 26, 2014

    I’m sorry that I’m just now seeing this article. Well said, Sasha!

Leave a Reply




Back to top
mobile desktop