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NPR critic thinks 'it's time for Tom Hanks to be antiracist' and do more to dismantle 'ideas of white American exceptionalism and heroism' in film

Tom Hanks is a well known Hollywood liberal, but he’s managed to remain pretty universally liked.

Clearly something must be done about that.


NPR. NPR picks on him.

NPR picks on him because according to TV critic Eric Deggans, Tom Hanks as one man hasn’t done enough to educate Americans about racism in our country’s history, such as the 1921 Tulsa Massacre, which Hanks said he only learned about last year. According to Eric Deggans, it’s incumbent upon Tom Hanks to open our eyes to our racist past and atone for his own role in perpetuating ignorance about our racist past.

And what does being an antiracist entail for Tom Hanks? Deggans concludes:

If he really wants to make a difference, 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.

Rather than talk about what “historically based fiction entertainment” must do, why not talk about what Tom Hanks, longtime scripted and documentary executive producer, will do? As a star who can get a movie made just by agreeing to appear in it, what will Tom Hanks, movie star, actually do?

People often say columns such as the one by Hanks are published to start a conversation. Well, here is my suggestion: Let’s make part of that conversation how baby boomer filmmakers have made fortunes amplifying ideas of white American exceptionalism and heroism.

And how their responsibility now lies with helping dismantle and broaden the ideas they helped cement in the American mind.


Could it be that Deggans actually deserves some of the criticism being sent his way? Because he’s being completely ridiculous?

Tom Hanks acknowledged that his work often hasn’t tackled some of the darkest moments of racial strife in our past, but he said he believes it’s important for films to tackle those moments head-on in order to come to terms with our history. Here’s Tom Hanks, saying loud and clear that he wants to do better.


And here’s Eric Deggans, saying that it’s still not good enough.

Because for some people, it will never be good enough.

Shame on NPR.

And let this serve as a lesson to Tom Hanks and to anyone else who thinks social justice warriors’ bloodlust will ever be sated.


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