Last Sunday I had the immense privilege of being the one designated disabled person invited to the 2017 Golden Globes after my name was pulled out of ‘The Bottom Of The Gene Pool’, a rusting above-ground swimming pool filled with the names of gossip columnists who aren’t legally allowed to donate their sperm.
I was thrilled at the chance to attend the ceremony, especially since a Centrelink automaton decided I owed $7000 in disability support debt and I was keen to flee the country as soon as possible. Besides, Hollywood has always felt like a natural fit for me, because I’m emotionally dead inside but have great eyebrows.
And I can tell you it did not disappoint - especially when it came to something that I’ve started referring to as The Streep Offensive.
I actually left the ceremony more disabled than when I went in after the deafening (get it) applause for the iconic star of Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events and other films that I’ve definitely seen - Meryl Streep.
If your lifestyle choices involve living under a rock, here’s the 4-1-1. Streep was awarded the Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award for her decades of incredible work. Rather than reflect on her career Streep used her acceptance speech to boldly take aim at President-elect Donald Trump.
She specifically mentioned an offensive impression Trump gave of Pulitzer winning journalist Serge Kovaleski, born with arthrogryposis, as “[giving] permission for other people to do the same thing”.
“I couldn’t agree more” said Globe-winning actress Emma Stone, who research tells me has been described asthe ‘perfect choice’ for her upcoming role as JFK’s mentally disabled sister Rosemary Kennedy in next year’s biopic Letters From Rosemary.
Now I’ve always been a big fan of Stone, especially since she’s no stranger to giving nuanced performances of minorities like her critically acclaimed role as Asian-AmericanAllison Ng in the applauded 2015 flick Aloha, and her most recent role in La La Land as a redhead (a minority constituting just 1-2% of the population).
As a disabled person I love to be difficult, and true to form I asked Stone whether she saw any parallel between Trump’s disability impression and her upcoming role as disabled woman Rosemary Kennedy.
Stone told me “I did start to see some connections, but fortunately it was on the set of La La Land that I learned the technique of sticking my fingers in my ears and going ‘la la la la’ so I missed most of [Streep]’s point”.
Stone demonstrating the ‘La La La’ scream technique to me at Penn Badgley’s Globes after-party
Also a fan of Streep’s touching speech was actor Eddie Redmayne, who last won the 2014 Golden Globe for Best Actor as literally the world’s most famous disabled person Stephen Hawking in The Theory Of Everything.
“I think it’s high time we drew attention to abled people pretending to be disabled (which I won a Golden Globe for) and away from cisgender people pretending to be transgender (which I was only nominated for)” Redmayne said to me after I promised to teach him an Australian accent for his upcoming role in Ned Kelly: The Twink Years.
Of course, Meryl Streep is not the first person to use their Cecil B. DeMille Award acceptance speech to advocate on behalf of disabled people.
Dustin Hoffman was honoured with the award in 1997 for his continued dedication to the screen. Reflecting on hisGolden Globe winning role as autistic savant Raymond in Rain Man, Hoffman commented: “that movie was a big win for the disability community because it showed audiences that disabled people weren’t just burdens – they could be useful financially, like big calculators”.
But even in spite of seeing Janelle Monae in person, I can’t quite say the night was perfect.
In my opinion, one of the biggest award snubs for the evening was Tom Hanks, who I - and many other very rich, successful critics just like me - felt was deserving of a Best Actor nomination for his touching role in this year’s uplifting airplane crash story Sully.
I’m a little biased though, because I’ll always have a soft spot for Hanks after he won the Best Actor Globe in 1995 for hisleading role in Forrest Gump, the film that coined the iconic disability expression ‘run, Forrest, run’ . As a person who uses leg braces, I can say that having that called out to you in public all the time never gets old.
It’s clear to me Hollywood is & has always been one of the strongest allies to disabled people everywhere - except the ones living in Hollywood who are actually auditioning for disabled roles - and we really should respect the self-congratulatory applause of an industry just because it manages to be better than a more-explicitly-racist xenophobe who is possibly into piss play.