Pop Culture

What’s Meryl Streep’s problem with MMA fighters?

Her judgements contradicted the things she preached for in her speech.

There’s no doubt that Meryl Streep took the world by storm with her notable speech at the Golden Globes. When she was honored with the Cecile Tyson award for her prestigious career, Meryl chose to use her platform to speak with compassion against bullying and division.

Her message was quickly heard across the world, with many who loved her words and a fair share who disagreed with her. Meryl Streep made it clear that President-Elect Donald Trump’s gross mistreatment of people needed to be acknowledged.

However, her well intended message became lost in translation for some when she indirectly devalued the diligence and diversity of MMA fighters. Her comment gathered a number of reactions from anger, confusion, and even feelings of disenfranchisement for some individuals. It is arguable that her comment did not come from a place of malice but it still translated that way.  Her judgements contradicted the things she preached for in her speech. This made her appear condescending to some MMA members.

Meryl Streep was not wrong for voicing her opinion. It is important that Meryl used her fame and cultural influence to speak out because the everyday person does not have the medium to do so.

We should all be proud of her courage to stand in front of her peers and start this much needed conversation. In Meryl’s own words, “Disrespect invites disrespect. Violence incites violence. When the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose.” We cannot disregard the powerful insight that her words bring; we can not openly disrespect others and then expect respect to be valued in our society.


The only problem with her speech was that she inadvertently belittled the MMA while preaching for compassion and respect for diversity in America. Amidst all the verbal attacks being sent her way, there have been some comments inviting her into the MMA community. It warms my heart that some individuals are reaching out to educate and show kindness to Meryl without judgement.

An invite to an MMA fight

Art is defined as the expression or application of human creative skills and imagination. Streep’s presumption of the arts as a solely creative field does not confirm that competitive sports do not fall within this definition. Professional Sports and Martial Arts require expertise and movement and reasoning, which makes it a complex art form. MMA fighters and NFL players often spend their entire lives rigorously training and persevering to perfect their skills.

The same way actors, musicians, and painters practice their art religiously, MMA fighters practice their form to be the best at what they love to do. This shows that there is not much difference between the fields; if you are dedicated to your form of art then it produces great results. The MMA is more diverse than Meryl Streep let on in her speech, because it consists mostly of hard working foreigners.

Martin Nguyen and Claire Todd

When I see these fighters, I see diversity, perseverance, and passion. MMA has a rich cultural history: it was brought to America in the 90’s by a Brazilian family that had learned a Japanese art form. Today, it is a thriving fusion of Brazilian, Russian, Asian and Irish fighting styles utilized by diverse fighters.

In essence, in the heat of one of the most important moments of her career, Meryl made a misguided comment. However, it’s these same generalizations that we as a society have to learn to stray away from. Everyone is aware that President-Elect Trump is no stranger to these sweeping and dangerous generalizations.

If we aspire to “go high when they go low,” we must learn not to let our assumptions rule our reality. These erroneous statements that marginalize groups of people stick out like a sore thumb. This way of thinking is dangerous.

Meryl Streep

Although Meryl’s comments were ill-founded, we cannot let them distract us from her overarching message; to respect and accept each other with open minds.

In her words, “Take your broken heart and turn it into art.” What we should all take from this is not directing anger towards Meryl, but instead bringing her words to life by appreciating diversity in all forms.

In this way, we all win.

  • Jennifer Njoku

    Jennifer Njoku is an enthusiast of all things entertainment. Lover of live music and standup comedy. Deep regard for kind people, team work, and captivating storytelling.