Meryl Streep Faces Criticism Over Alleged Blackface Scene in “The Laundromat”

The actress reportedly sports bronzed skin, a black wig and prosthetics in the film

Meryl Streep attends the North American Premiere of 'The Laundromat' at the The Princess of Wales Theatre on September 09, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for Netflix)
Meryl Streep attends the North American Premiere of 'The Laundromat' at the The Princess of Wales Theatre on September 09, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for Netflix)
By Bonnie Stiernberg / September 12, 2019 2:48 pm

Netflix’s forthcoming The Laundromat, a Steven Soderbergh-directed film about the Panama Papers, is facing criticism over a scene in which Meryl Streep appears in what some are describing as blackface.

As Yahoo reports, Streep plays two roles in the film — a white, American widow investigating the finances of her late husband and an office worker in a Panamanian law firm. For the latter, she reportedly appears with “bronzed skin, a false nose, a black wig, hip padding, and a Latin accent.”

Vanity Fair‘s Richard Lawson criticized the decision in his review of the movie, writing, “She shows up as a different character, wearing prosthetics and putting on a thick pan-Latin accent. This is a bizarre and rather galling unforced error, especially in an era of heightened consciousness about representation and appropriation. It’s not a huge role, but any one scene of Streep essentially playing Agador Spartacus’s mom is a scene too many. That ugly bit makes the unpleasant suggestion that this is all just a joke for Soderbergh and crew, richies who can’t help themselves to a little non-P.C. in-crowd chuckle while — yes, yes, of course, we don’t mean to laugh — doing the good work of telling poor people how they’re being screwed.”

There currently aren’t any photos or clips of the scene online, but The Laundromat is slated to drop on Netflix on Sept. 27th.

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