Friday, January 27, 2012

Anyone But Streep

Let me start off with a confession. I am quite able to put aside my political beliefs and praise a great movie, play or novel that I consider to be on the wrong side of the moral divide. As a silent movie fan, I admire Birth of a Nation despite it's racism. I own a DVD of both Triumph of the Will and The Dark Knight. But, The Iron Lady is not a great movie. It's not even a good movie, so it doesn't get a pass. And now that awards season is upon us, neither does it's star, Meryl Streep.

For almost two excruciating hours, this film, a conservative's wet dream, ignores the true legacy of Margret Thatcher. Dame Maggie was a supporter of the far right government of Augusto Pinochet, a friend to President Botha of South African apartheid fame, and an enemy of those fighting for their freedom from right wing oppression. (Why is it that conservatives love to yammer about lose of freedom when liberals talk about banking regulation but get all misty eyed about third world, right wing dictators?) She hated the idea that poor people in her own country should get a helping hand from their government. Cut education, of course. Housing for the homeless, what an absurd idea. Worker's rights, how communistic.

Despite my hatred of all things Thatcher, I concede that a good movie could be made of her life. Thanks to post World War 2 left wing policies, the daughter of a small grocer could go to one of the world's great universities. Why not a movie about how she came to hate the very policies that allowed her the social mobility that the traditional British class system would have denied her just a few decades earlier? Instead, The Iron Lady is all about praising her rise to power, with the opposition to Thatcherism presented as liberal sexism that opposed her because she was a woman, (Talk about getting history backwards.) and the timidity of conservative men who didn't have the backbone to shift the tax burden from the wealthy, to where it belonged, the lower middle class, and poor. Margret Thatcher is portrayed as a lone defender of western civilization, standing against the dark hordes of the unwashed and their unreasonable demands for social justice. How brutish.

As great an actress as Meryl Streep is, she should not be rewarded for this white-wash of a truly despicable person. There are other equally worthy performances that can be given SAG awards and Oscars. Why not Viola Davis for The Help, or the long over due Glenn Close for Albert Nobbs? Please, anyone but Streep.