In what is certainly sure to draw ire from some, if not many, in the Hollywood community, two-time Academy Award winner Tom Hanks opted for grace and class when speaking about President-elect Donald Trump. After a week of hysteria-laden open letters and Twitter rants from entertainment industry liberals like Aaron Sorkin and Joss Whedon, Hanks’ calm demeanor and response really stood out. The actor was being honored at the Museum of Modern Art in New York when he offered a refreshing dose of perspective.
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 American. 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?
Then Hanks said something that would probably be career suicide for a less established actor:
“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,” Hanks told THR. “I hope the president-elect does such a great job that I vote for his re-election in four years.”
While it is sad that kind, patriotic words like this stand out so much because vitriol is the norm, it’s also comforting to know that not everyone has lost his or her mind. Many of Hanks’ contemporaries truly believe that America is now in the midst of a possibly apocalyptic existential crisis. That’s largely based on a reality that’s prone to hysteria because it doesn’t get much exposure to people who think differently.
Hanks’ real world is a bit more…real. He lives in the same place and works in the same industry as Sorkin and the others, but has somehow managed to notice the America beyond the Hollywood bubble. He is also one of the most accomplished and respected actors of his generation. Maybe, just maybe, others will pause and take his words to heart.