Tom Hanks will never join Q-Anon

Tom Hanks will never join Q-Anon September 11, 2023

Tom Hanks is never going to join Q-Anon.

Millions of Americans have become devoted believers in the Q-Anon conspiracy theory. As of last year, 16% of American adults — more than 40 million people — affirmed the basic tenets of this religion-like political movement.

But Tom Hanks will never be one of them.

Understanding why that is — why Tom Hanks, very specifically, will very specifically never join Q-Anon — will help you understand the current state of politics and of Christianity in America.

Let me put that more strongly: If you do not understand why Tom Hanks, very specifically, will very specifically never join Q-Anon, you will be unable to understand the current state of politics and of Christianity in America.

None of this has to do with anything exceptional that Hanks has done, or with any of his innate characteristics. It’s not because he’s especially intelligent, or rational, or well-informed. It’s not because he has a particularly strong moral compass or emotional well-being.

Granted, the two-time Academy Award-winner is by all accounts a fairly intelligent guy and a mensch. Hanks has also spent decades working closely with many people at NASA — on Apollo 13 and From the Earth to the Moon, as well as other projects — and I would guess that would help to safeguard him from toying with conspiracy theories in general.

But all of that would also basically be true of, say, Ron Howard as well, and we’re not talking about Ron Howard here. We’re talking, very specifically, about Tom Hanks. The essential point here — the vitally important lesson — has to do very specifically with the star of Forrest Gump and Castaway and Big and Toy Story and Sleepless in Seattle.

The key thing to understand here is why Tom Hanks, personally, would not and will not ever join the Q-Anon movement.

And that is because the Q-Anon movement is spreading lies about Tom Hanks personally.

Q-Anon claims that Tom Hanks, the beloved and critically acclaimed star of Saving Private Ryan, is someone who routinely kidnaps, tortures, abuses, and murders small children before eating their flesh and distilling nefarious chemicals from their brains.

For whatever reason, this outrageous claim strikes millions of people as plausible. But it will never, ever strike Tom Hanks himself as plausible, because Tom Hanks is, uniquely, in a position to know that their lies about Tom Hanks are not true.

That’s how this works. It is always possible to recruit new members to join our cause by telling horrific lies about some group of Other People. But doing so makes those Other People themselves — the ones we’re telling nasty lies about — immune to recruitment. It means those Other People will never, ever become a part of your religion or political party or cause.

This isn’t mainly because those Other People are offended by our lies. That’s part of it, of course, because those lies are offensive and hurtful and harmful and mean, and no one enjoys being on the receiving end of such slander and hate and vitriol. The hateful talk and false accusations we routinely direct at them certainly don’t make these Other People more likely to join our cause.

But this isn’t about offense. It’s about pretense.

Those Other People know the truth about themselves and thus know that the truth about themselves is not compatible with the lies we’re telling about them. So unlike us or all of the millions of people we’ve convinced to join us, those Other People are incapable of acting like those lies are true.

We can choose to believe those lies, or to try to believe them, or to choose to pretend to believe them. But those aren’t options for the Other People those lies are about. It’s not possible for them to believe what we’re saying about them. It’s not even possible for them to pretend to believe what we’re saying about them.

For us and for the new recruits and converts we convince to join us, those lies might seem possible. For us they may be persuasive, or convincing, or reassuring, or motivating, or inspiring. But none of that can ever be true for the Other People who already know, with absolute certainty — both objectively and subjectively — that our lies are nothing more than lies.

Tom Hanks cannot be enticed or persuaded or deceived by the lies that Q-Anon is spreading about him. He cannot hear those lies and pause to wonder if maybe they’re true, or if they contain some nugget of truth, or if they might be true is some deeper, metaphorical or allegorical sense.

And because Tom Hanks knows — with absolute certainty — that things Q-Anon is saying about him are totally false, he will not be inclined to give the benefit of the doubt to any of the other claims that Q-Anon makes. He knows them to be untrustworthy. Because he is, personally and specifically, the target of their false accusations, it is impossible for him to regard them as credible.

Tom Hanks is also, of course, Tom Hanks. He isn’t just famous, he’s beloved. We’ve all heard dozens of other famous people tell stories about working with him and all of those stories have assured us that he is, in person and in private, every bit the nice guy he appears to be in public. He’s the Jimmy Stewart of this generation of Hollywood. Tom Hanks is the guy you cast to play Capt. Sullenberger, John Miller, Jim Lovell, James Donovan, or Fred Rogers, because his very presence seems to connote a fundamental decency. Audiences don’t quite know how to handle it when he’s cast against type (as in Elvis or Ladykillers or Bonfire of the Vanities). He seems, to most of us, like such an essentially good person that if they were to make a movie of his life, we’d want to see him played by Tom Hanks.

For most Americans, then — heck, for most earthlings — Q-Anon’s claim that Tom Hanks is secretly a monster seems ridiculously implausible.

But not entirely impossible. Not quite.

After all, we may feel like we know him, but we know we don’t really know him. And we’ve all been fooled before by some priest or bishop or Cosby who seemed like a fundamentally good person only to be revealed later as a monstrous predator in his private life. If Dr. Huxtable had us all so badly fooled for so long, then how can we be completely sure that Tom Hanks isn’t also hiding some horrible dark secret?

So most of us can be 99% certain that Q-Anon’s lies about Tom Hanks are false, but only 99% certain. There is still, for most of us, a tiny sliver of room for doubt, for maybe perhaps wondering if some small part of what they say might in some small way be partly true.

For Tom Hanks himself, though, no such sliver of doubt exists. Because he is personally and specifically the focus of Q-Anon’s claims, he is personally and specifically in a position to know with 100% certainty that they are full of crap.

So Tom Hanks will never join Q-Anon.

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