“Iron Lady” and Meryl Streep’s Performance

I know this has nothing to do with Kazakhstan but in a sense it does.  Asians are much more tolerant of older people, they give them the respect that is due them.  “Getting old is not for sissies,” my 96 year old grandma used to quote.  I don’t understand why women, such as Meryl Streep, who pride themselves on being liberal and emancipated tear down other successful women. I don’t get it.  Meryl Streep did a huge disservice to the legacy of Margaret Thatcher in the latest movie “Iron Lady.”

Streep was very talented on imitating Julia Child and her walk, talk and mannerisms (think “Julie and Julia” movie), Streep did the same with the honorable Thatcher’s accent and movements.  However, what I find remiss is that Streep was ready and willing to play the role of an aging woman with dementia. There’s nothing attractive about witnessing the fragile years of a deteriorated mind especially of one who used to be a world powerhouse such as Margaret Thatcher.

The following are Meryl Streep’s thoughts on her performance in “Iron Lady” from Internet Movie Database imdb.com:

“It took a lot out of me, but it was a privilege to play Margaret Thatcher, it really was. I still don’t agree with a lot of her policies. But I feel she believed in them and that they came from an honest conviction, and that she wasn’t a cosmetic politician just changing make-up to suit the times.

We on the Left didn’t like her policies but secretly we were thrilled that a woman had made it, and we thought, “Wow, if it can happen there in England, it could happen here.” But we’re still waiting in America.

She’s still an incredibly divisive figure, but you miss her clarity today. It was all very clear and up front, and I loved that eagerness to mix it up and to make it about ideas. Today it’s all about feelings. You know, “How do I come off?” and, “Does this seem OK?” You want people who are willing to find a solution. I admire the fact that she was a “love-me-or-hate-me” kind of leader who said: “This is what I stand for.” It’s a hard thing to do and no one’s doing that now.

[on what appealed to Meryl Streep about playing Margaret Thatcher] Women and power, and diminishment of power, and loss of power. And reconciliation with your life where you come to a point where you’ve lived most of it, and it’s behind you. I have always liked and been intrigued by older people and the idea that behind them lives every human trauma, drama, glory, jokes, love.

I consider all the roles I play a privilege but this one was special because there are such vehement opinions about her. People seemed to look at her as an icon or a monster and I just wanted to locate the human being inside those caricatures that we’ve seen over so many years. And to investigate myself what it must have been like for her.

[Streep responding to those who have criticized the emphasis placed on Margaret Thatcher’s frail and confused old age] Some people have said it’s shameful to portray this part of a life. But the corollary of that is that, if you think that debility, delicacy, dementia are shameful, if you think that the ebbing of a life is something that should be shut away, if you think that people need to be defended from these images then – yes – then you’ll think it’s a shameful thing.”

Apparently, whoever wrote the “Iron Lady” script wanted the audience to be confused about Thatcher’s husband, Denis, appearing in her other world of delusion or reappearing in mere flashbacks in time.  Denis provides the comic relief necessary for this film and is entertaining when he tries to get Margaret to lighten up.  Endearing are their two children who wanted their mother to stay home and not follow her vision and passion to lead the country. Did Meryl Streep’s three daughters and one son have the same desire to have their mother home with them?  Seems she has racked up many movies in her acting career since the mid-1970s, same drive to follow one’s passion. Will someone play Meryl Streep’s tottering years when she goes senile?  I wonder.

What I liked best about the movie was the quote that Margaret Thatcher used.  If only Meryl Streep heeded these words and was not on the liberal left so ready to take an icon of freedom and democracy down.  A movie built around “selective memories” should instead showcase “Iron Lady” as having character of the right sort.

“Watch your thoughts for they become words,

Watch your words for they become actions,

Watch your actions for they become…habits,

Watch your habits, for they become your character,

And watch your character, for it becomes your destiny!

What we think, we become.”

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