As an actress, Meryl Streep is undeniable. As a human being, so was her speech.
And yet, less than eight hours after delivering that powerful and empathic speech straight from her heart, it was denied, on Twitter, by the man who will be leading our country for the next four years…or more.
According to him, she’s ‘overrated’.
Has he ever seen one of her movies??
What kind of country are we living in, where facts are deniable? Where what we see with our own eyes is inadmissible? Where truth depends on beliefs and biases, not reality and rationality?
Where the vast majority of Americans want to say YES! to progressive change, but religious fundamentalists shout so loud and the one-percent spend so much, that they get to tell us no, we’re going backward instead?
For the record, I’m not against religious people. My mom is an ordained minister, and her wedding ceremonies bring everyone in the congregation to tears. She is an authentic Christian.
So on a random Saturday, when I get a knock on my door from folks who have come to spread the good word, I tell them “Thanks, but I already have a private relationship with God, and I prefer to keep it that way.”
And I’m not against wealthy people, either. I think it would be disingenuous to say I don’t want to someday be wealthy. It’s the ‘American Dream’.
But that dream is evaporating before our eyes.
Today, a college degree is as good as a high school diploma, and decreasing in value semester after semester. No longer can the proverbial college carrot be dangled in front of a high school graduate, the path to a job and steady income all but guaranteed.
Because the educational system put in place by the Greatest and Silent Generations — the system which set the Baby Boomers up for nearly-sure success — has been bogged in bureaucracy, monetized, and privatized to the detriment of generations afterward. Sold out for football TV revenue.
(Don’t believe me??? Listen to this three-part series from Malcolm Gladwell’s fantastic podcast Revisionist History: http://revisionisthistory.com/episodes/04-carlos-doesnt-remember. It will blow you away.)
Let’s also not forget about technology and its ability to disrupt entire industries, ending careers and ruining lives, creating economic chaos.
To that point, self-driving vehicles will be ubiquitous before we know it, and once ‘selfies’ are legislated to be on the roads, our country’s truckers had better have a skill set which offers value beyond the capabilities of a robot.
Understand: Most businesses’ biggest expense is payroll, and payroll is the first line item companies tend to look at when it comes to cutting costs. Is your job in jeopardy due to technology? If you don’t know the answer to that question, do your research. If your answer is no, I hope you’ve done your research!
Technological progress and industry upheaval are undeniable. The ‘American Dream’ of the Boomer Generation is dying. Even if you’re comfortable today, chances are something’s going to happen that will make you uncomfortable in the future.
This is a good thing. It means we have entered the Age of Authenticity.
The internet’s level playing field allows anyone with a connection to participate, but that means there’s a lot of noise out there, everyone competing for the same thing — our attention. What grabs our attention is something undeniable, something real, visceral. Something authentic.
If the past year has taught me anything, it’s that people will respond to authenticity. What is authentic wins.
Our future president won the election because of his authenticity.
He resonated with so many Americans because he’s been the same person since they first saw him thirty years ago or more. He’s remained in the media spotlight, a familiar face, a celebrity.
The same could be said of Hillary Clinton. She’s been involved in our government for almost as long as I’ve been alive.
Yet her inability to exude authenticity was her undoing. I mean, how many different versions of her have we seen over the last thirty years? Nine? Ten?? She navigates the political jungle as if a chameleon, blending into whatever environment necessary, concentrating on survival above all, living to fight another day.
After she lost the election, she went for a long walk in the woods, disappeared. (Funny that she ventured into the woods, because during the months leading up to the election, it seemed she and her team couldn’t see the forest for the trees…)
The case I’m making for the president-elect’s authenticity can also be made for Bernie Sanders. Though not in the limelight for three decades, he has been working behind the scenes just as long, in the trenches with real warriors, people who roll up their sleeves and get things done. People who sometimes have to decide between going without water or electricity for a month because they can only pay for one, people who are facing real hardship and struggle, unlike those in power.
And even though Bernie lost the primary — which we now know that (thanks to Russian hackers) the Democratic National Committee colluded with the Clinton campaign to undermine Sanders’s — he never abandoned his people, he didn’t retreat to the woods. He stills campaigns for progressive reform across the country, addressing his supporters in live streams and via email and Twitter and more.
Make no mistake, Bernie is still in the game. He’s authentic in his passion for our country, and in his efforts to enact real progressive policy.
That’s what connected with so many Americans, the idea of positive and transformative change, not just “free shit”!
But here we are today, and our country’s future leader tweets — tweets! — that the incomparable Meryl Streep is ‘one of the most over-rated actresses in Hollywood…a Hillary flunky who lost big…’
Well, sir, here are examples of where she won big over the last four decades: Kramer vs. Kramer, The French Lieutenant, Sophie’s Choice, Adaptation, Angels In America, The Devil Wears Prada, Julie & Julia, The Iron Lady…
And last night, the Cecil B. DeMille Award for Lifetime Achievement.
Much like Bernie and the soon-to-be commander-in-chief, Meryl Streep resonates because of her undeniable authenticity.
When the president-elect makes comments such as he does, whether about Streep, or a disabled person, or a protestor at one of his rallies, or a member of the press, or to Billy Bush about what he does to women, or about Carly Fiorina, or former Miss Universe Alicia Machado…
Those types of comments attempt to deny others of their authenticity, one of the worst things to do to another human being. It evidences a fragile ego, a lack of empathy.
“[They] attacked me…”
“Get him out of here…”
“I have all the best words…”
“Grab ‘em by the pussy…”
I’ve never heard this man say “I’m sorry.” I’ve never heard him say “I made a mistake,” or “I was wrong.”
From what I can see, it appears he’s never sorry. And from what I can I tell, as far as he’s concerned, he’s never wrong.
That’s unbelievable. His supporters could tell him that even Jesus got things wrong from time to time…
Jesus lived a life that was full of joy and contradictions and fights, you know? If they were to paint a picture of Jesus without contradictions, the gospels would be fake, but the contradictions are a sign of authenticity. – Paulo Coelho
What we see from our future leader is what we get. Yet there’s a growing chasm between what this man told us we were going to see, and what we’re actually witnessing in these transition weeks before he assumes the Oval Office.
But I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised. It’s been reported that he’s done the same thing to the people he’s hired to build his buildings over the past thirty years.
In his own way, he’s undeniably authentic. We’ll see what he does after Inauguration Day. The suspense is killing me.
Steel your resolve, folks. And please, make more art.
On a brighter note…it’s Monday, which means it’s time for the next episode of my new podcast, Get After It!. This week I talk with Mike Gamble, the director of US business development and marketing for Media Science International, a company which handles digital watermarking for major label recordings and releases.
Mike cut his teeth in punk and hardcore bands as a teenager, and has since produced several albums, started his own record label, thrown big warehouse parties at which he DJed, and designed and built his own recording studio, where he worked with Eminem, Dr. Dre, Jadakiss, and many others…including a convicted murderer named Slim the Mobster.
You can download and listen to my conversation with Mike here: http://getafterit.libsyn.com/get-after-it-w-john-kay-002-mike-gamble
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this blog post, whether you agree with my thoughts or otherwise. It’s time for people to start talking TO each other one-on-one, instead of AT each other on social media.
P.S. Thanks to everyone who has downloaded and listened to the first episode of my new podcast with Emily Schaller, and those who emailed me with their thoughts and stories. I appreciate hearing from each and every one of you, and I’m glad you learned something from her experience. If you haven’t downloaded my conversation with Emily, please do so ASAP because the episode will be deleted to make room for next week’s interview. File space is limited, and I don’t want to compromise on quality in order to fit more quantity. 😉
P.P.S. I got a bunch of emails from people asking if they can subscribe to Get After It! via iTunes — it’s being worked on as of now, and I will let you know once it goes live!