Back in the more optimistic days of October, Tom Hanks-perhaps better known as “America’s Dad” these days- addressed the nation on S.N.L. with a pep talk from a concerned, invested father. During a tribute to his film career at the Museum of Modern Art presented by Chanel last night, Hanks offered a follow-up installment for those of us who are, as he put it, “a week into wondering what the hell just happened.”
Following gentle roasts and congratulatory messages from his colleagues (including Emma Watson, Steve Martin, Oprah, and Ron Howard), Hanks delivered a speech well beyond the usual “Thank you very much for this honor” one that stars deliver at these types of events.
“We are going to be all right,” he affirmed.
And, as if anticipating the “How?” and “Why?” on the tip of everyone’s tongue, Hanks had an answer.
“America has been at worse places than we are at right now,” he told the audience. “In my own lifetime, our streets were in chaos, our generations were fighting each other tooth and nail. Every dinner table ended up in being as close to a fistfight as human families are allowed. We have been in a place where we have looked at our leaders and wondered what the hell they have been thinking of. We’ve had moments that have had administrations and politicians and senators and governors in which we always have asked ourselves, ‘Are they lying to us, or do they really believe in this?’”
He assured the room that no matter who our leaders are, we are protected by one thing that none of them can touch: a “magnificent document,” called the Constitution of the United States. And just in case anyone needs a refresher, Hanks sang a little bit of the preamble, School of Rock-style.
He evoked more American nostalgia to amplify his message that our country will find a way out of this (even if our president-elect has demonstrated a tenuous understanding of the Constitution at best). “Sometimes, like the Bruce 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 . . . because if we do not move forward, what is to be said about us?”