Hark! There is a philistine at The New York Review of Books. This cultural heretic goes by the name of Martin Filler, and he has written an essay on TNYRB's blog-site that iconoclastically questions the Greatest Actress in the World status of our beloved Meryl Streep. Blasphemy! All vicious words against her base calumny! Useless doggerel. But, for the purposes of knowing the dark heart of our enemy, let us read some of these sacrilegious words.
He begins this tripe, titled "Deep Streep?," with this utterly horrifying paragraph:
Among the impenetrable mysteries of modern life is how Meryl Streep can be universally regarded as the greatest dramatic film actress of our time. In my opinion, Streep is easily at her best as a comedienne, not in the high-serious roles she has favored.
Knave! Dastard! Meryl Streep can do anything she wants better than anyone else who has ever done it or will ever do it! How dare this man aim his arrows at the gods? And he continues to do so, shamelessly, and at length! Here are the final three paragraphs of this apostasy:
Film is a cruel preserver of performances that would otherwise be filtered through fond reminiscences rather than be accountable to concrete visual evidence. A compilation of clips shown in the television broadcast of last year’s Kennedy Center Honors, at which Streep was one of five honorees, gave hints of the unkind process already at work.
One after another, the excerpts unreeled her repertoire of parts in which she deployed a panoply of showy but dubious foreign and American regional accents, including bogus British in The French Lieutenant’s Woman (1981), adenoidal Danish in Out of Africa (1985), and hardboiled Bronx in Doubt (2008), though not her embarrassingly misjudged surly Australian mum in A Cry in the Dark (1988), which made an ironic catchphrase of her lament, “The dingo took my BYE-bee!”
Several generations ago, Helen Hayes was inevitably accorded the sobriquet of “The First Lady of the American Theatre,” though now her saccharine portrayals would doubtless make one’s teeth ache. It is easy to imagine that future generations will look back on today’s credulous admiration for the undeniably gifted but habitually histrionic Streep with a similar mixture of bafflement and bemusement.
Hideous slander! Oh it gives us pains to read. If you'll excuse us, we must go lie down, so shocked are we by this merciless and unmerited attack against the great goddess of the public arts.
(But seriously: Filler's post is mostly about how The Iron Lady is kind of a ridiculous movie, which makes total sense. In fact, the whole argument is almost critiquing her movies rather than her acting ability, which is a topic that The Onion already covered almost three years ago. Oh well. We still love you forever and ever, Ms. Streep.)
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.