Tom Hanks seems to be a nice guy, smart and quick-witted, and an outstanding actor. His political heart seems to be in an open-minded, humanist place.
It’s interesting that he is now being recognized as the impressario of American collective memory– even more massively popular than Ken Burns. At the center of that Hanksian memory is the steady perspective of flawed individuals who are forced by circumstances beyond their control into difficult situations and are forced to make difficult choices– that somehow always seem to make sense in the end.
This distinctive historical perspective resonates deeply right now– and it obviously says more about our own times than the history it retells.
Individual. Flawed and vulnerable. Unsentimentally self-reflective.
Forces sweeping us up, disrupting our existence.
Impossibly complex life choices.
What Tom Hanks offers through the uncertainties and grimness, though, is hope. And that is something that more strictly scholarly history often fails to provide.