It seems that one of the big stories coming out of the #GoldenGlobes stemmed from #MerylStreep being given the Cecil B. DeMille Award for "outstanding contributions to the world of entertainment." Which is not surprising considering her long and illustrious career. What was a bit more surprising was what followed in her speech. She covered a whole slew of topics from showing the #diversity of actors and actresses who made up this year's nominees to #DonaldTrump winning the presidential election to encouraging the press to hold those in power accountable in the upcoming future. While I can appreciate many of the viewpoints she addressed (especially her quick tribute to the late Carrie Fisher), there is one line in particular that sparked a whole lot of controversy with a group of people who are not known for backing down from a fight.
In my mind, the uproar from the crowd was a bit confusing. Are they are cheering for importance of foreigners staying in the country or her claim about football and #MMA? Maybe a mix of both. But the negative reaction from the MMA community was pretty clear from all angles. Many lashed out saying she does not know what she's talking about or throwing a quick jab at some of her work. #Bellator's president, Scott Coker, even extended an invite to Streep to watch an upcoming event to see that MMA can be "truly artistic."
We cannot deny the importance in the words we say. Actors, writers, public figures and anyone on social media have seen even a single line distract people from an overall message. I know that her main point was not to belittle MMA or any sports for that matter. But regardless, I felt the need to address this matter. Snarky tweets and one liners can be entertaining in the moment, but do nothing more than that. This article was written to shed light from another perspective, of which I hope people who think of MMA as merely barbaric can now have a better understanding.
Granted I did not know the extent of Meryl Streep's knowledge of the sport but from the sound of her comment, it seems like she is definitely not sold on the idea of two individuals fighting each other for the enjoyment of others. But like #DanaWhite says in a reaction video from TMZ Sports, "[MMA] not going to be everybody's thing."
From an outsiders perspective, maybe they cannot understand the significance of martial arts or combat sports in a person's life. Streep claimed in her speech that "an actor's only job is to enter the lives of people who are different from us and let you (gesturing to the viewers) feel what that feels like." But watching a sport like MMA can not only fill that same role but also inspire someone to do more. That's not to say actors do not have the same inspirational qualities, but from my personal experience, watching the UFC changed my life forever.
Growing up, I had some anger issues and problems with bullying. I had a hard time fitting in and kept to myself outside of school. Then one day, I caught a commercial for the first season of #TheUltimateFighter. I was intrigued by this "new sport" and wanted to learn more. A few weeks later, I took my first class at Evolutionary Martial Arts (what was then called Integrated Martial Arts and Fitness West) and was immediately hooked. I found a place filled with a diverse group of people that not only gave me a sense of belonging but also a sense of empowerment. In the years of training at EMA, I pushed myself through mental and physical tests on a daily basis. I saw others not only do that same, but challenge each other to do more than they think they are capable of. I learned that the sport is not just a means to hurt another person, but to protect myself and have the confidence to stand up for myself even in difficult situations. I gained a second family outside of my own and I know for a fact, anyone who has spent their lifetime in this sport can say the same about their own school or training camp.
On a more abstract level, mixed martial arts and any sport in general can really draw parallels to the performing arts. Regardless if you're an actor, musician, or athlete, there are hours upon hours of practice day after day, week after week in the hunt for perfection. There is a sense of timing and rhythm and being able to perform time and again at your best. You present your hard work in front of a crowd, whether it be dozens, hundreds, thousands or millions, hoping that your performance meet their expectations. I would hope a great actress like Meryl Streep or anyone for that matter would understand the pain and struggle that someone goes through to bare their heart and soul to the public regardless of what sort of medium.
Finally, enjoying the performing arts and enjoying sports do not have to be mutually exclusive. We are in an era filled with men and women who break the mold and cannot be labeled by a single stereotype. We are way past the days like the beginning #TheBreakfastClub where people are simply "a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess [or] a criminal." Times have changed and reflect what the end of that film says: we are all of these things. Take #DonaldGlover for instance. An actor, comedian, rapper and more who won not one but TWO Golden Globes for his hit show #Atlanta. An actresses like #EmmaWatson who is not only a captivating performer but also an #equalrights #activist much like other actors. I know plenty of people in my personal life who wear more than one hat. My cousin Danny who is both an actor and trains martial arts. My sister who can find just as much enjoyment in a day watching football and in an afternoon in the city watching a #Broadway show. Friends who can appreciate #Oscar nominated movies and quote Billy Madison two minutes later. Even the Golden Globes themselves realize the diverse nature of entertainment by including a movie like #Deadpool with Streep's own movie #FlorenceFosterJenkins and this year's best motion picture in a #musical or #comedy, #LaLaLand.
In every aspect of life we should take into consideration the message Streep made about acceptance. But it shouldn't just be in the controversial topics like race, gender, religion and so on. Acceptance should be given in ALL areas in life: personal style, choice of hobbies, taste in food, opinions on pop culture, etc. As people, we are bound to disagree with others but we should look at these moments as learning experiences, not chances to attack each other and add to the divide. Like Streep said in her speech: "disrespect invites disrespect." I would hope that the opposite does the same.