The billboards for Ricki and the Flash tell you to “Get Ready for Ricki,” but it may take a little more preparation than you were expecting. Because while you’ve surely had ample time to acclimate yourself to the spectacle of Streep belting “Bad Romance” in her role as small-time, mascara-smudged bar singer Ricki, you still might not be ready for the bomb dropped by the film in its very first scene: Despite her boho-rock braids and follow-your-bliss lifestyle, Meryl’s Ricki is a dyed-in-the-wool, Obama-hating Republican.
That’s right: One of Hollywood’s most famously liberal actresses is playing a woman who blames Obama for our country’s ills, and does so early and often. And while it was one thing to watch Streep espouse conservative ideals in her Oscar-winning role as Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady, it’s quite another to see what Streep is up to in Ricki and the Flash, where she wakes up topless in her shitty Tarzana apartment with a patriotic snake-and-flag tattoo scrawled across her back.
Literally, “it’s an unexpected side of her,” said grinning Ricki and the Flash writer Diablo Cody when Vulture spoke to her yesterday. “That’s the aspect of Ricki that I actually love the most: It’s not the fact that she’s a rock star, it’s the fact that she’s your aunt on Facebook posting the American flag GIF on the Fourth of July.” And don’t let the rock ‘n’ roll threads fool you: “Ricki does costume herself as this very edgy person,” said Cody, “but at the same time, as you get to know her, you realize that she has a lot of typical mom tendencies. She reads Parade magazine, she watches 60 Minutes, and she voted for George W. Bush twice.”
So how did Streep feel about dissing Obama in the film’s opening minutes? Was she as surprised by her character’s political point of view as the audience might be? “It felt not like a stunt,” said the actress, who we caught up with earlier this week at the Mostly Mozart Festival opening-night gala in New York. “It felt like a real person. I have a lot of friends and relatives who do nothing but watch Fox News and have the same views: They love really good rock ‘n’ roll, and they really love, you know, Sarah Palin.” She laughed. “What can I say?”