This year’s Golden Globe Awards witnessed Chet Hanks, Tom Hanks’ son, speaking patois on camera, which left the entire Internet asking, “But why, tho’?”
The 29-year-old rapper/actor posted a video of himself to Instagram on Sunday highlighting his attendance at the awards ceremony where his dad, actor Tom Hanks, was being honored with a lifetime achievement award.
Instead of announcing his arrival in his normal speaking voice—which would have been socially and culturally appropriate—he threw an expired 99cent store bottle of jerk chicken sauce on it by announcing it in patois.
The Internet was not feeling it.
Brittny Pierre, who tweets under the handle @sleep2dream, wrote “why is Tom Hanks’ son Chet Hanks speaking patois?”
Similarly one of his Instagram fans, Sanam, wrote “?????????????”
But some folks supported Chet’s move. His mom, actress Rita Wilson, made light of it by writing “Maybe the best laugh of the night. 😂”
Honestly, I don’t know that it was the best laugh as much as it was a good example of what not to do as we start 2020. It was perhaps the best example of what happens when privilege and access to the world’s various cultures isn’t checked by a true appreciation of those cultures and understanding of how colonialism and white pillage continue to wreak havoc on them.
It’s another example of white folx thinking than can say whatever they want simply because they’re black-adjacent: Chet plays the rapper Blake on FOX’s Empire, and his daughter, Michaiah is black.
But proximity to blackness doesn’t grant permission to mimic it.
Although some will undoubtedly discard Chet’s words as child’s play—even though he’s 29—this isn’t the first time he’s come under fire for his words. He adamantly defended his use of the n-word until 2018, when he finally admitted he shouldn’t have ever used it. In an interview on Van Lathan’s The Red Pill podcast, Chet disclosed why he had used the controversial word:
“Number one, I was on a lot of drugs…I wanted to be, like, down, you know what I mean? I just felt like I wasn’t enough. Low-key, like subconsciously, looking back on it now I realize I was trolling. I thought, like, crazy antics and just wilding the f*ck out and doing some crazy sh*t was going to, like, spark my career ... I did the ultimate lame thing. I did the ultimate cornball thing. And that sh*t wasn’t cool.”
I suspect the same is true here. He wanted to do something “cool” and “different” to gain views. And it worked. So far the video has garnered more than 94,000 views, which is about 20,000 more views than his total number of Instagram followers. Additionally, news outlets, including CNN, wrote about his shenanigans. But instead of just once again apologizing for trying to be cool, Chet posted a picture of the CNN article on his Instagram today and wrote,
“Average citizens: damn this is scary I can’t believe we’re on the verge of WW3 let me check the news smh @CNN: 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣”
So now Chet is simultaneously deflecting attention away from himself while reflecting it back onto himself. SMH.
I’m not mad tho’, cuz Chet’s IG account still shows the video because he thinks he looks cool in it. That’s the poetic justice here.