NPR, man. It used to be good, though liberal, until it was taken over by woke fanatics. Now NPR’s TV critic, Eric Deggans, is attacking Tom Hanks for not being woke enough. Deggans, who is black, praised Hanks for his recent op-ed about the Tulsa race massacre, and calling on Hollywood to tell more stories like it. But now Deggans wants Hanks to do penance for having made movies about white people. I kid you not. From Deggans’s essay:
[I]t’s wonderful that Hanks stepped forward to advocate for teaching about a race-based massacre – indirectly pushing back against all the hyperventilating about critical race theory that’s too often more about silencing such lessons on America’s darkest chapters.
But it is not enough.
After many years of speaking out about race and media in America, I know the toughest thing for some white Americans — especially those who consider themselves advocates against racism — is to admit how they were personally and specifically connected to the elevation of white culture over other cultures.
But in Hanks’ case, he is no average American. Or average Hollywood star, for that matter.
Over the years, he has starred in a lot of big movies about historical events, including Saving Private Ryan, Greyhound, Forrest Gump, Apollo 13, Bridge of Spies and News of the World. He has served as a producer or executive producer on even more films and TV shows based on American history, including Band of Brothers, The Pacific, John Adams and From the Earth to the Moon. He was an executive producer of documentaries such as The Assassination of President Kennedy and The Sixties on CNN.
In other words, he is a baby boomer star who has built a sizable part of his career on stories about American white men “doing the right thing.” He even played a former Confederate soldier in one of his latest films, News of the World, standing up for a blond, white girl who had been kidnapped and raised by a Native American tribe.
He’s not alone. Superstar director Steven Spielberg has a similar pedigree (notwithstanding occasional projects such as The Color Purple and Amistad). And fellow director Ron Howard. These stories of white Americans smashing the Nazi war machine or riding rockets into space are important. But they often leave out how Black soldiers returned home from fighting in World War II to find they weren’t allowed to use the GI Bill to secure home loans in certain neighborhoods or were cheated out of claiming benefits at all.
They don’t describe how Black people were excluded from participating in space missions as astronauts early in America’s space program. As the book and film Hidden Figures notes, even brilliant Black and female mathematicians faced discrimination in the space program during the 1950s and 1960s. If given better opportunities, perhaps they could have helped us get to the moon sooner, by putting our best minds on the problem, regardless of race.
Deggans is angry because these artists didn’t make the films he thought they should have made.