Hail to the Hanks
Hail to the Hanks
The latest issue of The New Yorker finds Tom Hanks intrigued by the idea of running for political office, even onto the presidency. The actor displays a becoming modesty, noting that he’d “have to know more about law or economics,” even though he knows darn well that a relative ignorance of those subjects hasn’t prevented at least a few candidates from reaching the highest office in the land. Besides, any guy who manages to look noble by taking a hefty back-end deal on “Saving Private Ryan” knows as much about calculated-risk economics as Alan Greenspan.
Hanks is described by writer Kurt Andersen as “a moderately conservative Hollywood Democrat”; take out the word “Hollywood” and you’ve just described 7/8ths of the baby-boom generation — good positioning, Tom! That he might consider a career in politics isn’t a shock. After all, isn’t he our end-of-the-millennium Everyman, America’s most likable movie star? It’s not as if we haven’t elected likable movie stars in the past. (Clue: See “ignorance of those subjects” above.) Heck, I even liked Hanks when liking Hanks wasn’t fashionable: I wrote one of the few good reviews his 1980-82 sitcom “Bosom Buddies” received. While most of my colleagues were busy sneering at the show’s premise — young men (Hanks and Peter Scolari) dress as girls to live in an all-women’s hotel — I’m unembarassedly pleased to say I praised Hanks for his “intelligent-wiseguy” performance.
Since then, Hanks has perfected a way to modulate his intelligent-wiseguyness with exquisitely fine tuning, turning it way down low, the better to tug our hearts in “Forrest Gump,” and cranking it up high for my favorite role of his — that of the cynical-but-honest manager in the rock & roll comedy he directed, “That Thing You Do.”
Modulating one’s image has become an essential requirement for today’s presidency. Besides, you gotta admit, Rita Wilson would make one slinky First Lady. (Am I being crass? I’m only approaching the office as Bill Clinton has taught us to do.) And so, let a million bumper stickers bloom: “A Bosom Buddy For President.” My only question: If Hanks wins, does this mean Peter Scolari gets to be Vice President?