With #OscarsSoWhite trending and diversity in the forefront of everyone’s minds lately, it’s not surprising that when a story came out recently about Meryl Streep sitting on on all-white jury at the Berlinale Film Festival and commenting “We’re all Africans, really” we assumed the worst. And, frankly, Streep probably is a little out of touch and tone deaf to the diversity issue; most of us white people are. The best bet is to acknowledge that there is certainly an issue to be addressed and direct people to the black filmmakers and actors who are better able to discuss and dissect the challenges they face and how they see the industry making progress.
However, an undated correction to the original Mashable article featuring the quote gives some context that casts a different light on her statement. In fact, it almost makes it feel more like she’s trying to be inclusive of diverse filmmakers rather than dismissive of them. Here’s the full context:
At the panel, a reporter from Egypt spoke about how the festival had a film “representing Tunisia, the Arab world and Africa in the main competition” and followed that up with a question for Streep: “How do you see this part of the world? And is it easy for you to understand that culture? And are you following any of the Arab movies?”
This was Streep’s response.
“Yes, in fact I’ve just seen a film called Theeb, which I loved. I saw Timbuktu recently … I don’t know very much about, honestly, about the Middle East, and yet I’ve played a lot of different people from a lot of different cultures. The thing that I notice is that we’re all, there is a core of humanity that travels right through every culture. And, after all, we’re all from Africa originally. We’re all Berliners, we’re all Africans, really.”
It seems that Streep was trying to highlight the commonality among the diverse films she’d seen and what she’d worked on. I’m still not sure these were the best words to use to do it, she probably could have left off after “travels through every culture” and it would have been fine. But overall I feel the statement was misrepresented originally which is why I wanted to take the time to cover the correction. Do you think it makes a difference?