Tom Hanks has a long track record of social justice activism. He has a long history of donating to Democratic candidates and causes. One might logically believe that he would be a hero to self-proclaimed progressives everywhere. One, apparently, would be wrong.
Tax-payer-funded National Public Radio recently published a piece titled "Tom Hanks Is A Non-Racist. It's Time For Him To Be Anti-Racist,” by 55-year-old Eric Deggans, a Black man. Deggans opined: "The toughest thing for some white Americans … is to admit how they were personally and specifically connected to the elevation of white culture over other cultures. Baby boomer filmmakers have made fortunes amplifying ideas of white American exceptionalism and heroism … [Hanks] has built his career on stories about American white men 'doing the right thing' …It is time for folks like Hanks to be anti-racist." He then claimed that work that focuses on the achievements of “virtuous white, male Americans” may well “have made it tougher” for tales of white “atrocities” to “find space.”
Deggans went on to note how successful white filmmakers like Ron Howard and Steven Spielberg, themselves both liberal, have made it difficult if not impossible for anyone to make films about Black people facing discrimination because their movies didn’t feature Black people facing discrimination. Huh? Almost every current movie, television show, commercial, or pop song has at least a reference to Black people facing discrimination.
Deggans added, "Hanks and other stars need to talk specifically about how their work has contributed to these problems and how they will change. They need to make specific commitments to changing the conversation in story subjects, casting and execution. That is the truly hard work of building change."
The passive-aggressive NPR hit piece then suggested that part of the “truly hard work of building change” is to “dismantle” the idea, notion or concept of any white American males—past or present-- being heroes.
If Hanks truly is a “non-racist,” as NPR snarkily labeled him-- he is not racist. To say he needs to become an “anti-racist” in this context means he must actually become a racist…in the preferred manner of today’s race baiters and grievance traffickers.
Does Deggans believe that no white American males were/are heroes? Not one? Hanks played the roles of Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, an airline pilot who saved countless lives with his actions. He has played Abraham Lincoln, Walt Disney, Fred (“Mr.”) Rogers, Sheriff “Woody”…and himself. Does NPR believe all these “white American males” were racist scum unworthy of being celebrated in any way?
The idea that, since some movies don’t feature a particular group of people facing discrimination, they make it impossible for all other movies to feature that group of people facing discrimination is truly preposterous. Just because somebody may have made successful movies that didn’t feature Jews getting abused and exterminated by Nazis, that does not necessarily make it impossible for anyone else to make films depicting Jews getting abused and exterminated by Nazis.
In 2016 Hanks was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom from that notorious racist Barack Hussein Obama. Tom Hanks is not a racist. He may even be an anti-racist.
And what else was Hanks supposed to do? If he didn’t play white people, if he routinely took roles of peoples of color, different nationalities, or women, he would have been savaged for inexcusable appropriation. Should he be limited to playing the parts of evil white tyrants? Ignorant Caucasian a**holes?
I guess he could just play the roles of mainstream media types like Brian Stelter, Brian Williams, Chris Cuomo, Jake Tapper…and assorted NPR hacks.