• February 3, 2023

The Squandered Promise of Chet Hanks’s White-Boy Summer

There’s a lot I can’t remember from that time, just over a year ago, when America began to realize the terrible size of the world Coronavirus Pandemic. I’ve suppressed many of the stressful little things of those days, but when I look back, a memory comes to mind and surprisingly, it’s not a bad one. On March 12, 2020, Chet Hanks – a rapper and actor on TV shows like “Empire” and “Shameless,” who is perhaps best known for being the thirty-year-old son of actor Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson – went on Instagram notify the public that his parents had signed COVID-19. “Yes, it’s true, my parents have coronavirus. Crazy, ”he said, speaking to the camera. Explaining that his father was making a movie in Australia when the couple tested positive for the virus, he continued, “They don’t worry about it, they don’t trip, but they obviously take the necessary health precautions. . . I don’t think it’s something to worry about, ”he added. “I think it’s going to be all right, but I appreciate it, and simply, everyone is safe out there. Much love.”

I wasn’t happy to hear that Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson had gotten sick, but I couldn’t help but find the video funny. There was Chet Hanks’ bold decision to deliver the message while inexplicably shirtless. His body was full of tattoos (an eye of Providence on his sternum, a Latin phrase that translates as: “Fortune favors the bold” on his upper arm) – developed muscles as if threatening to explode from the confines of the camera; his enigmatic decision as a white man to speak in black English; and the fact that Justin Timberlake’s doppelganger in Alpha Dog was amazingly the descendant of one of America’s most popular actors. In the midst of the darkness he gave us light. It would be all right Tom Hanks’ Buff, rapper son had told us it would be.

As we now know, almost nothing turned out to be OK, but with the recently accelerated Vaccine rolloutWe are beginning to see signs of the end of the pandemic and Chet Hanks has come back to clarify. March 26th in a short front Clip Hanks, who he posted on Instagram, presented his predictions for the coming months. “I just get the feeling, man, that summer is about to begin,” he began, sitting in the driver’s seat of a car, vigorously chewing gum. “I’m not talking about Trump, you know, Nascar-type white. I’m talking about myself, Jon B., Jack Harlow white boy summer. . . Let me know if you can swing with it. “In the caption, he urged people to” mark a REAL vanilla king “in the comments.

The video went viral despite confusion emerging in response to the unsettling ring of Hanks’ catchphrase. What exactly did he ask us to vibrate with? In the last few years there has been a sharp increase in violent white supremacist actions – especially the “Unite the Right”. rally in Charlottesville and the tried Capitol Coup– as well as apparently more fragile, but still many poisonous cases of racism à la barstool. Despite Hank’s vague assurance that he wasn’t referring to the kind of militant whites we were promoting former presidentbut rather to a softer, prettier kind embodied by Jack Harlow and Jon B., a white rapper and a white R. & B. singer, respectively, some uneasiness has been expressed on Twitter, especially by black users. “White Boy Summer? I hope you wear bulletproof vests in case you get upset lol, ”said one person tweeted. “I’m sorry, but someone has to tell Chet Hanks that ‘White Boy Summer’ sounds like the title of a Netflix documentary about mass shootings,” said another wrote. If last summer was the summer of the BLM, was this summer the time to celebrate white boys?

In the past, Hanks had dipped his toe in something nearing political talk: last year Protests against Black Lives Matterhe sent his support for the movement on Instagram and paid tribute to Tiffany Miles – the mother of his daughter Michaiah – who is black. In a later Instagram clip afterwards Joe Bidenwins, he sent an explosive chatter against Donald Trump. (Both posts have since been deleted; Hanks has asserts He’s been harassed by “pro-Trump conspiracy theorists” who also targeted his father.) And yet, Chet completists would remember that after adopting the stage name Chet Haze in his early rap days, Hanks was criticized for not only using the N-word but defend its right to use it, claiming that it “unites the culture of hip-hop across all races”. (In 2015 he did accused the rant about his drug problem; he came in treatment in the same year.) In January 2020, he started in another bizarre move Speak in Jamaican Patois (“Big up, the whole island is huge!”) On the red carpet of the Golden Globes – he was there when his father received the Cecil B. deMille Award for Lifetime Achievement – and was beaten up for cultural appropriation.

Seemingly undeterred, however, Hanks continued to post white boy summer content on his Instagram. In a number of VideosAirPods, in which he can be seen shirtless and with a back cap and which are firmly tucked into his ears, announced some “rules and regulations” for the season. He opened with some light fashion cues (“No plaid shirts, okay? You can’t look like a picnic table out here, guys … no Sperry topsiders. These are not the kind of white guys we deal with, Dawn . ”) Before we move on to matters of the heart:“ No smoking girls. . . that’s over with. . . The bottom line, gentlemen, is that it is time for us to develop further. In a later post, Hanks promised that he would soon bring up other “PSP” topics, including “taking girls on dates,” “socks,” “house music,” and “telling your brothers,“ I love you ”. Most of the posts were presented as warnings. The message seemed to be that a white boy shouldn’t be a particular source of pride; In Hanks’ tale, white boys were a little idiotic and a little pathetic and certainly needed help, for which he was the self-appointed source.

In one Video Hanks, published last Sunday, turned to decency issues: “Really, really important folks. As summer approaches and it gets hotter, there are pool parties and barbecues. White boys, it’s not a summer for white boys where you get drunk and sweaty and, as you know, have a sunburn on your face, breath alcohol, reach out to people you barely know and get everything in your personal space, OK? He said. He dramatically performed excitement and went on, “We have to stop this shit guys. We have to do better.”

The term “do better” is sometimes used in contemporary, mostly online, discourse that focuses on social justice issues, either as a call to others or as part of a vow that he himself has made to deepen his awareness and be Improve behavior. Despite the very real need behind it, in my opinion the term is often used strategically – for example by companies trying to do PR cover their asses when their structural racism is exposed or as a useful stick to accelerate or prevent so-called cancellations. (For example, last month Sharon Osbourne used the term in one Excuse me Posted on Instagram after being charged with racist behavior while serving as a panelist on CBS’s “The Talk”. A few days later, the network announced that she would be leaving anyway, albeit with one reported golden parachute by millions of dollars.) Hanks’ use of the term was definitely indicative: he seemed to be aware of the wider, more serious, more Byzantine conversation that was going on around him, and nodded to him while he was also different. In his confident ease he seemed to suggest that he was free from all of this. I’m not doing anything very serious here, he seemed to be saying, other than talking about whiteness as a fact that, in its everyday peculiarities, is mostly embarrassing and stupid.

When I saw Hanks move through his new game, I felt like he was dancing on thin ice. I realized that part of my interest in his videos was based on a fear that at any moment he would move from playful, open fun to harsh racism. Although his connection to his popular father (who – as Twitter joke It had helped a few years ago – maybe even secretly a black man – to distort his videos, to make them somehow more secure, but the danger was still clear and present. With each new post, I wondered if this would be the one that crossed the line, and then I breathed a sigh of relief when it wasn’t.

When I was putting the finishing touches on this piece on Tuesday morning, a friend informed me that Hanks’ white boy summer merch had dropped. For his logo, he seemed to be targeting the popular black letter font. Used by brands like Chromed heart and musicians including Kanye West and Phoebe Bridgers, it also bears a resemblance to that Germanic fracture Scripture, a phrase that brought the summer of the white boys a little too close to the summer of the proud boys. (“Why is it like in prison Aryan Brotherhood font lmao”, a person tweeted.) How to reassure his followers later that day, Hanks announced that in addition to the new summer merch with white boys, he would also drop the summer clothing “Black Queen” because, as he said in a Video“You can’t be a real ivory king without a black queen.” The WBS philosophy, Hanks claimed in another Videoshould be for everyone. “This is the epitome of summer with non-white boys: he has badwill or prejudice about someone of a different background, race, or path of life than you,” he said, his cap popping forward lightly. “The real mood is just having a good mood with everyone. Everyone. You know what I mean?”



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