But now. Now I want my own refund.
Yesterday, a video surfaced which showed Mr. Hanks and the singer, songwriter, and guitarist Glenn Frey, star of South of Sunset, performing at a fundraising event for the St Matthew's Parish School in Pacific Palisades. At one point during the event, these two entertainment legends were joined on stage by another parent, and hilarity ensued.
The 2004 auction’s routine included a white man in blackface, identified in the footage as investment banker James Montgomery, CEO of the Santa Monica, Calif., firm Montgomery & Co. In addition to blackface makeup and the wig, Montgomery wore a leopard-print toga and an arm band made to look like it consisted of animal teeth.Oh, wow.
During a lull in the auction, Frey refers to Montgomery and comments, “See how boring money management and stock investment is, people? It’s not nearly as much fun as, like, professional basketball.”
The final item auctioned in the 2004 fundraiser depicted in the video was a large stuffed “trophy gorilla” that came with what Hanks described as a “dowry”: 5,000 shares of pre-IPO stock in Corus Pharmaceuticals, a company whose limited partners included Montgomery’s family trust.
Here is the video:
If you watch it, you'll see Mr. Hanks react to the presence of the blackfaced Mr. Montgomery by saying, "Wait a second. Oh, geez..." Almost as if (benefit of the doubt!) he's trying to figure out what to do in this situation that he finds appalling and offensive. We can't see what's going on his mind, but we can see that he decides to play along. With the guy in blackface. Tom Hanks, one of the most popular actors in the world, plays along with a guy in blackface, cracking a joke about "a celebrity in our midst... Who would have thought Bill O'Reilly would join us?"
I'm not sure what that's supposed to mean, exactly. Bill O'Reilly is a populist bloviator with a nightly program on the Fox News Channel, which is widely derided by liberals as a right-wing organization, so I suppose he's somehow making a joke about the insensitivity of the situation with which he's playing along. But to my knowledge, Mr. O'Reilly has never appeared in blackface, anywhere, which is more than I can say for Mr. Hanks's cohort. Also, I don't think Mr. O'Reilly has ever performed with anyone in blackface, which is more than can be said for Mr. Hanks. Then again, I'm not an expert on Bill O'Reilly; I watched part of an episode of his show once.
But Mr. Hanks is the guy who joked that the stuffed gorilla that the blackfaced Mr. Montgomery carries came with a "dowry." Which implies marriage. Remember: There is a man in blackface holding a stuffed gorilla, and Tom Hanks is making jokes about bestiality.
Tom Hanks, Hollywood superstar ladies and gentlemen!
Does Mr. Hanks have any excuse for himself? Yeah, he released a statement about the incident, and it explains everything.
"In 2004, I was blindsided when one of the parents got up on the stage in a costume that was hideously offensive then and is hideously offensive now," Hanks said in a statement to TheWrap. "What is usually a night of food and drink for a good cause was, regrettably, marred by an appalling few moments."At the time, Mr. Hanks didn't walk off the stage. He couldn't even muster enough outrage to say something like, "You know what? This is not good. Let's not be doing this."
Instead, Mr. Hanks made a bestiality joke.
"Hideously offensive." Those are the words that Mr. Hanks used.
He was so "blindsided" that all he could do was make bestiality jokes, and crack wise about Bill O'Reilly. And all the while, Glenn Frey was shambling around like a feebogzh, making jokes about professional basketball and Idi Amin for crying out loud.
Okay, so Mr. Hanks didn't know that some jerk was going to get up on stage in blackface. But the bare minimum that Mr. Hanks could do in this situation is not make a bestiality joke. Seriously, is that really too much to ask?
Mr. Hanks has claimed to be concerned about racism. Two years ago, he lamented,
“I’d like to think that as our time has gone by and as Americans have found themselves in 2010, ignorance is being replaced by a certain amount of enlightenment and racism is going to be replaced eventually by an acceptance. It’s just taking an awfully long time.”
You know why it's "taking an awfully long time"? Because when people are presented with actual examples of hideously offensive racism, too many of them think it's okay to just play along. And make bestiality jokes.
Then again, maybe Mr. Hanks was talking about himself when he said "it's just taking an awfully long time."
Compare Mr. Hanks's craven playing along with the guy in blackface with Harry Connick Jr.'s reaction to a blackface act on an Australian television show.
"Hey, hey, there's no more show."
Mr. Hanks is a moral coward. He's a sleaze. He was so "blindsided" by this blatantly racist act going on not two feet away that he actively participated in it. He's had eight years to do or say something about it, and it's not until now, that the video surfaces, that he tells us how "hideously offensive" it was.
Go to hell, Tom Hanks. And, I want my money back for "Saving Private Ryan."
Full disclosure: Although the St Matthew's Parish School apparently has a "Sprague Center" somewhere on its campus, I am in no way affiliated with the organization.