Cinema has always been at the forefront of experimenting with the new frontiers of the politically correct movement. There’s been a race for a while to see who’s more inclusive, but we may have a winner: Tom Hanks. The great actor has won two Oscars, the first for his memorable portrayal of an AIDS advocate in Jonathan Demme’s film Philadelphia (1993). AIDS had been known since the 1980s, but the film was definitely an eye-opener for anyone who doubted the health emergency. When asked by The New York Times Magazine, Tom Hanks said he couldn’t play that statuette-winning role today.
Here are the exact words: “Let’s ask ourselves: Can a straight guy do today what I did in Philadelphia? No, and rightly so. The whole point of Philadelphia was don’t be afraid. One of the reasons people weren’t scared was because I was playing the homosexual. Now we’re over and I don’t think people would accept the lack of authenticity of a straight man playing a gay man ». Conclusion: “It is neither a crime nor a whim for someone to want more from a film in terms of authenticity these days. Looks like he’s going to preach a sermon? It’s not my intention”.
The interview didn’t go unnoticed, partly because Hanks is one of the Academy’s most prominent figures and has opened a debate that continues in the columns of The New York Times. There are those who are happy about the umpteenth success of the politically correct, but there are also those who show more than helplessness. In fact, Hanks seems to deny the real meaning of acting: to enter the characters. The best actor is often the one who can empathize with men who are completely different from him. Hanks himself lost thirty pounds for the film in question and turned out perfect. There are also those who point out the absurdity of the reasoning: a straight can’t play gay, so a gay can’t play straight… or in the latter case, doesn’t sexual orientation count? At this rate, casting a film could become a nightmare. Bradley Cooper knows about it, being challenged in recent weeks for agreeing to play the role of conductor and composer Leonard Bernstein (whom he looks a lot like, among other things). The reason? Bernstein was Jewish. So the role had to be assigned to a Jew. It’s not Cooper. How dare you?
So the politically correct, transformed into paranoia, takes over the entertainment. The gurus of this ideology seem to believe that cinema is the most powerful weapon. In this they agree with Benito Mussolini.