In a recent essay for National Public Radio (NPR) TV critic Eric Deggans faulted Hanks for not going far enough in his recent New York Times op-ed in which the actor urged Hollywood to do more to address the role racism has played in U.S. history. “It is not enough,” Deggans wrote. “So I am saying it is time for folks like Hanks to be anti-racist.”
No amount of groveling and anti-racist efforts will ever redeem white liberals, as Tom Hanks is now finding out. In his op-ed last week for the Times, the popular Oscar-winner urged schools to do more to teach about the history of black people, citing the Tulsa Race Massacre on 1921 as an example. Hanks added that Hollywood needs to do the same.
“Today, I think historically based fiction entertainment must portray the burden of racism in our nation for the sake of the art form’s claims to verisimilitude and authenticity,” he wrote.
In his essay for NPR, Deggans blamed Hanks for “amplifying ideas of white American exceptionalism and heroism,” and declared that the actor must now atone by “helping dismantle and broaden the ideas” that people like him “helped cement in the American mind.”
“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,” Deggans wrote. “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.”
“As a star who can get a movie made just by agreeing to appear in it,” Deggans concluded, “what will Tom Hanks, movie star, actually do?”
It won’t matter what he does, because nothing will never be enough.