Tom Hanks, one of the biggest living Hollywood legends, keeps himself out of the limelight when he’s not on screen, actually acting. For those who see celebrity endorsements as little more than vapid codswallop, Hanks is a hero of sorts.
Yet he’s found himself engaged on political commentary this year. Who hasn’t? Perhaps it was simply timing. His latest film, the bio-pic about ‘Sully’ Sullenberger, put Hanks on the talk-show circuit at the same time as the election.
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Yet it was at a post-election awards ceremony that Hanks made his most direct remarks about the election of Donald Trump, and Hanks came prepared with a conciliatory message of hope. This is what he told the crowd gathered at the Museum of Modern Art who were there to celebrate Hanks’s cinematic achievements.
“We are going to be all right. America has been in worse places than we are at right now. In my own lifetime our streets were in chaos, our generations were fighting each other tooth and nail, and every dinner table ended up being as close to a fist fight as human families will allow.”
“We have been in a place where we have looked at our leaders and wondered what the hell they were thinking of. We’ve had moments with the administrations and politicians and senators and governors in which we have we’ve asked ourselves ‘Are they lying to us or do they really believe in this?’ That’s all right.”
Then he went historical, citing the Constitution’s preamble:
“That document is going to protect us over and over again whether or not our neighbors preserve, protect, and defend it themselves. We are going to be all right because we constantly get to tell the world who we are. We constantly get to define ourselves as Americans. We do have the greatest country in the world. We move at a slow pace. We have the greatest country in the world because we are always moving towards a more perfect union.”
“That journey never ceases, it never stops. Sometimes, to quote a Springsteen song, it’s ‘one step forward, two steps back,’ but we still aggregately move forward. We, who are a week into wondering what the hell just happened, will continue to move forward. We have to choose to do so, but we will move forward because if we do not move forward, what is to be said of us?”
“This is the United States of America. We’ll go on. There’s great like-minded people out there who are Americans first and Republicans or Democrats second. I hope the president-elect does such a great job that I vote for his re-election in four years.”
In what may be a very optimistic sign of reconciliation, the audience actually gave Hanks a standing ovation.
Those of us who follow Hanks could have seen this coming. Check out this skit from Saturday Night Live, if you haven’t already. It is laugh-out-loud funny, but then the actual message creeps in and kicks you right in the gut. We have way more in common than we will allow ourselves to admit.