An Un-American, Misinformed Blog Post

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Earlier this week Tom Hanks referred to members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who supported California’s Proposition 8 as “un-American.” Samuel L. Jackson then piled on yesterday by labeling Mormon Prop 8 supporters as “misinformed.”

To borrow a Tom Hanks line from Big: “I don’t get it.
"

One of my all-time favorite Tom Hanks scenes comes from Cast Away. Shortly after crashing on the deserted island he does an amazing job illustrating how nearly impossible it is for a Fed Ex employee to catch a fish with his bare hands. A moment later the camera zooms in on a large fish swimming in shallow waters when – BLAMO! – a crude spear suddenly comes from nowhere and impales the fish. The camera then slowly pans up to reveal an emaciated, shaggy, loin-cloth-wearing Tom Hanks standing above his fresh kill after several years alone on the island. Very, very cool.

Unfortunately, Tom Hanks delivered another kill shot. He killed me as a fan. It will be hard for me to watch Tom Hanks movies in the future unless I suffer an unexpected “brain cloud” as he did in Joe Versus the Volcano and magically forget that he challenged my patriotism for having participated in the democratic process. (Unless his Cast Away character somehow ended up on Lost. I’d be all over that!) The irony of calling people un-American for exercising their right to vote for other otherwise support legislation is so hypocritical that it deserves no further comment.


Tom Hanks should be relieved to know that some Mormons also exercised their constitutional right to oppose Prop 8. If he ever visits one of our church services he can rest assured that there are at least a few “patriots” in our midst who truly mean it when they sing “The Star Spangled Banner” in sacrament meeting. Not like the rest of us America-hatin’ frauds.


I gave Tom Hanks a pass when he decided to produce HBO’s Big Love despite the untrue stereotypes it perpetuates against Mormons. But with this second attack directed squarely at my faith there is now a pattern of contempt from Tom Hanks that sours me. Exit polling performed by L.A. Times found that roughly 70% of African Americans and voted for Prop 8 as did a significant amount of Latino and social conservatives of all faiths, yet Tom Hanks only singles out the Mormons. If he has issues with people who supported Prop 8 then he should direct his disparaging comments toward everybody, like he did with his hatred for his entire team in A League of Their Own.


Samuel L. Jackson’s comment was not nearly as offensive as Tom Hanks’ (“misinformed” vs. “un-American”) but it still cast Mormons who participated in the democratic process in a negative light. After reading his accusation I was hoping that Samuel L. would channel his inner Mace Windu and enlighten us poor, uneducated hillbillies. Regrettably, he failed to inform the misinformed. I was looking forward to receiving a moral lecture from a reformed cocaine addict with a felony conviction for his role in taking hostages during a 1969 civil rights demonstration. Worse yet, Samuel L. Jackson also starred in Snakes on a Plane. Yikes!


Since it appears that Samuel L. did very little research to inform himself about Mormons before attempting to point out how misinformed we are, he may be surprised to learn that we, as a whole, are a very educated people. A 1998 study by Stan Albrecht and Tim Heaton from BYU's Religious Studies Center found that 53.5% of LDS males have a post-high school education versus 36.5% of the US population. The findings among women were even more impressive as 44.3% of LDS females have attended some college compared to 27.7% of the general population.


I am sure both Tom Hanks and Samuel L. Jackson have a number of redeeming qualities. Their professional talents are unquestionable. In fact, Tom Hanks is so talented that he made me cry - literally - when his volleyball/best friend Wilson floated off into the horizon during Cast Away. They both seem to be good family men. They work hard. They are probably generous with their money in supporting causes they believe in. I applaud them for the good things that they do to make the world a better place. I am just tired of them hacking on my faith.


One of my favorite lines from Forrest Gump is when he says, "You've always got to put the past behind you before you can move on."

I just hope that Tom Hanks, Samuel L. Jackson and those who follow their lead in Hollywood can do just that.

And that I can, too.

33 comments

K2 said...

I completely agree with you. Tom Hanks always seemed to me to be a great person on and off the screen. He is a big supporter/fan of WWII veterans and I hold a special place in my heart for them as well. How can he support those who died to give us the freedom to vote and then mock someone for doing so? I agree that it will also be hard for me to watch him in any other movie without thinking about his negative remarks regarding our faith.
Great post. You always make me think and laugh. Thanks!

5:38 AM
Tom said...

I don't really take issue with the democratic process, but something you mentioned that I have an extremely hard time with - Why would the Star-Spangled Banner be sung in church at all? And not just that, but all the nationalistic hymns in the hymn book. They may mention God, but they certainly are not religious. Why should only British and American saints be allowed to sing their national hymns in a sacrament meeting? Since you are only allowed to sing what is in the hymnal, and even in the foreign translations they don't put the Portuguese national anthem, nor the Japanese, nor the Mexican, so those saints can't sing them in sacrament meeting. Doesn't that stink a little bit of ethnocentrism? This has always bothered me and its the reason I will never sing the national hymns in a sacrament meeting.

6:46 AM
Bryce said...

Hanks did apologize for his comment, and redeemed himself in my eyes with how complete and sincere it was: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/celebritynews/4341062/Tom-Hanks-apologises-for-calling-Mormons-un-American-for-supporting-gay-marriage-ban.html

6:51 AM
Amy said...

Tom--my husband sang the Spanish anthem in church while on his mission in Spain. Also, when we were in Hawaii a few years ago we sang some Hawaiian songs in Sacrament as well. Since the LDS church believes in supporting your local government, I feel this is appropriate.

NMH: what a great post. I too have a hard time looking past actor's idiotic public stances...afterall, just because you know how to read a script and say a memorized line as if you're just thinking of the words for the first time in the moment doesn't mean you're the most educated, informed, well-rounded being in the planet. And as the recent infatuation with Paris Hilton and her frenemy Nicole Richie prove, Hollywood is often obsessed with mediocrity. Apologies issued after the fact are often an attempt at damage control/salvage. I like both Tom and Samuel as actors and I hope I can forgive them for their opinions.

7:31 AM
Col.Smeag said...

NMH I have to agree. For the last 15 years I have been drifting away from being a fan of Hollywood. Why is that people who spend their whole lives "PRETENDING" to be people we like are in reality are nothing more than bigoted hatemongers. They don't like us because of our beliefs or even the fact that we believe in God and Jesus Christ. It is so wonderful that we have freedom of speech because if people like Tom and Sam had their speech repressed we would just keep giving them our money mindlessly as we watch them portray people we really like.

8:33 AM
Maren Hansen said...

Sha-bang--great post! Sums up my own thoughts as well. Let this be a lesson to us that just because someone is a good actor/guitar player/singer/painter, does not mean that we should mindlessly follow their values...

8:53 AM
The Fear Fam said...

Thank you for putting my feelings into words so perfectly! I am very disappointed in Tom Hanks (for the comments & his production of Big Love.). I read the apology (thanks for the link, Bryce), and although it made me feel *a little* better, I have to wonder how sincere it truly was.

8:54 AM
Becky said...

Im not even sure that I would call that an apology. More like a "but mom.... do I HAVE to say sorry?" As he petulantly stamps his foot as his publicist threatens him with time out. I have no doubt as to why the VTing message this month was about being steadfast in faith. I have the feeling that its just going to get worse from here on out, and even more people will join the bandwagon calling us unpatriotic as they fling the "discrimination" "judgmental" labels at us.

9:23 AM
Angela said...

Rats, someone beat me to it. He did apologize and the link Bryce gave wasn't working so I don't know if it was similar to this one: http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20254509,00.html
So, just in case you can't get enough, there you go.

9:38 AM
Tiffany said...

Yeah, I was glad he apologized...but the apology itself didn't do much for me, because I think he said what he meant, and then apologized b/c he had to.

Tom: As for the Star-Spangled Banner in church--that's my favorite when we get to sing that! Have you ever paid attention to the third verse? "O! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand Between their loved home and the war's desolation! Blest with victory and peace, may the heav'n rescued land Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation. Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just, And this be our motto: 'In God is our trust.'And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!" (okay, technically its the fourth verse, but in our hymn book its the third) I love that verse! It always makes me cry b/c it reminds me that our nation is based on God and we should thank Him for all He's done and turn to Him in times of need (tragically most of our nation has forgotten that). I think its totally appropriate to sing in church. (Also I like that verse b/c it answers the question in the first verse of the song...)

9:46 AM
Katy said...

Oh my goodness, your Tom hanks rant was scarily similar to mine. When I was on Youtube, I saw a video that said "Tom Hanks Calls Mormons Un-American" I was so mad. So I watched it, and it made me even more upset. All the comments on it were bashing Mormons and what not. I responded by asking them how voting is Un-American. I never liked Tom Hanks much, but this was just too far.

11:15 AM
Lauren said...

I have to agree that the comment Tom Hanks made was incredibly rude and discriminatory, but so was Proposition 8. There's a whole debate on this comment thread on the Star Spangled banner-- the anthem of the home of the free-- and yet, for a country that preaches equality and freedom, it's not really so, is it? If we have to vote on whether gays/lesbians can get married, how is that free? I don't know. I agree with you that voting is completely fine and the American way, but it all comes down to what we're voting on.

12:03 PM
Graham Chops said...

I decided to boycott Tom Hanks movies when he said this. For the record, he did come out and say that he shouldn't have made such a critical judgment of them with the expression "un-American".

Sam Jackson is another story. We're misinformed when we refuse to agree with him, yet does he bother to find out whether any of us looked at both sides of the Prop 8 argument and STILL voted yes on it? Somehow we're the ones who are closed-minded, yet I can imagine what Jackson's or Hanks' reaction would be if one of us tried to share the Book of Mormon with him. That'd be a real mind-opener.

12:11 PM
Kristi said...

Well put. I'm a little bit over being cast in a negative light for my participation in the democratic process. Frankly, even if I weren't Mormon and didn't support prop 8, I would still have to admire the people who stuck by their values enough to support the proposition. Particularly since we had to do it amidst the bullying, name-calling and, in places, outright violence. Maybe in Hollywood anyone with the integrity to not just mindlessly follow the crowd really is "Un-American".

The fact that the proposition passed despite the fact that the "no" side had bigger voices and bigger wallets shows that it is an issue that concerns more people than just the Mormons.

1:01 PM
Sandy said...

Great post - exactly how I feel about it. Its been painfully obvious throughout this whole Prop 8 business that far too many people speak publically without bothering to check their facts. And get away with it.

3:07 PM
Val said...

I am disgusted with the liberal agenda, which truly represents only a small percentage of democrats. Those with the loudest agendas to push are those that are heard most often. I do not understand why so much attention is paid to the far left. It is the same as not wanting the religious zealots of my own party representing me and my views.

I just got done reading the most incredible book written by former liberal Harry Stein called "How I Accidentally Joined the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy and Found Inner Peace." I have never read a book that better summed up my thoughts on how politics have gotten so out of balance. It is a must read.

I addressed this Prop 8 issue in a post of my own a while ago. Here it is if your interested: http://guinnmc.blogspot.com/2008/11/my-country-tis-of-thee.htm

Thanks for the great post. Keep them coming!

3:19 PM
Sean said...

Thanks for your great post.

The problem that I have with Tom Hanks 'apology' is that he said we should have 'respectful disagreement', but the feeling I got from what he said is that even if we disagreed with him on Prop 8 (or any other marriage protection cause) we should still vote in agreement with him.

6:17 PM
carmar76 said...

I tip my hat (were I wearing one) to you. However you choose to vote on any given issue, voting itself is the most American thing you can do! I've never understood the term "un-American" when it comes to voting choices. Bah.

On a completely separate note - I was reading Val's blog & saw the Twilight rap & laughed my butt off! IDK why I didn't see that before, but it was creative & hilarious.

6:56 PM
cameo said...

Thank you. Everything I thought of when I saw that, just much better put into words. Honestly, I don't care if I never hear any celebrity ever talk about their political beliefs again, liberal or conservative. Their opinions don't matter anymore than mine or yours.

8:41 PM
Kylie said...

Just wanted to add that we have the Australian national anthem stuck into the back of our hymn books as the last hymn (properly numbered - not just stuck on the back cover), and we just sang it last week for Australia Day....

1:09 AM
Anonymous said...

We also have the Canadian Anthem in the back of our hymnbook where the last verse is

"Ruler supreme Who hearest humble prayer, Hold our Dominion in they loving care. Help us to find, O God; in thee A lasting rich reward, As waiting for the better day, We ever stand on guard. God keep our land Glorious and free! O Canada we stand on guard for thee!"

Seems pretty appropriate for Sacrament Meeting to me.

AND after all the crazy stuff about Prop 8 in CA (we already have gay marriage in Canada) it's no wonder the first primary song for the year is "The Family is of God".

6:31 AM
Quest said...
This comment has been removed by the author. 1:16 PM
Quest said...

The government should have nothing to do with marriage, be it hetero- or homo- or polygamous or whatever (which use to be the First Presidencies position). The government only got involved in licensing marriage about 100 years ago for health reasons - making sure the parents were healthy enough for the children. Now people forget that and it's never brought up.

Imagine if the government got involved in licensing baptism today. In a hundred years the church would probably be advocating people to pour money into "Prop 8,000" which defines baptism as only allowable for heterosexuals. There would be tons of needless contention and we would hear about how heterosexual baptism is the foundation of our religious society and no one would mention how or why the government even got involved in the first place. If government were to disappear, would there be no more marriages? No! There would still be marriage, just like there would still be baptism. As one writer said, "George and Martha Washington never had a marriage license, and most Americans didn't need them until the mid-1800s. It is likely they would be appalled by the degree to which we have gotten the government involved in a sacred religious ceremony."

When I say this most people ask about the government teaching gay marriage to school children. This is why governments should not be in charge of schooling. Read up on the words of the early prophets concerning public education. Most Mormons are ignorant of this.
In government schools, politics decides what the children shall be taught. This is one reason why public schools should be abolished and schooling should be entirely private. That way, education will work like everything else on the free market, where the customer is king. If you don't fully satisfy the customer, you're history. Any school that angered its customers (the parents and students) by teaching them about homosexuality, would lose customers to schools that didn't do such things, and thus be history. Right now everyone is at each others throats to control the government so that they can control the schools.


President Benson -

“Parents want better school for their children, but not a federal subsidy, leading to control of the teachings and textbooks, as well as the ideologies, of the children.” - Stand Up For Freedom Talk

Brigham Young – [Here he talks about the immorality of public education. I'd add that it's immoral to have those without children pay for the education of those with children. Or those with two kids to pay the same school tax as those with seven. Or those who pay for their kids to go to private schools to pay the public school tax that they receive no benefit from.]

“I am opposed to free education as much as I am opposed to taking property from one man and giving it to another who knows not how to take care of it… I do not believe in allowing my charities to go through the hands of robbers who pocket nine-tenths themselves and give one tenth to the poor… Would I encourage free schools by taxation? No!” (Journal of Discourses Vol. 18, p. 357)

“We had to pay our own schoolteachers, raise our own bread and earn our own clothing, or go without; there was no other choice. We did it then, and we are able to do the same to-day. I want to enlist the sympathies of the ladies among the Latter-day Saints, to see what we can do for ourselves with regard to schooling our children. Do not say you cannot school them, for you can… I understand that the other night there was a school meeting in one of the wards of this city, and a part there–a poor miserable apostate–said, “We want a free school, and we want to have the name of establishing the first free school in Utah.” To call a person a poor miserable apostate may seem like a harsh word; but what shall we call a man who talks about free schools and who would have all the people taxed to support them, and yet would take his rifle and threaten to shoot the man who had the collection of the ordinary light taxes levied in this Territory–taxes which are lighter than any levied in any other portion of the country?” (Journal of Discourses 16:19-20)

1:18 PM
Janan said...

The devil sure is a tricky son-of-a-gun. I always take it as a good sign when the majority of Hollywood disses us. Do we really want that crowd to approve of us? If we get to that point and they are still the way they are, we will be a fallen people. Star Spangled Banner is a favorite.BTW

10:29 AM
Carolyn Geddes said...

AMEN!!!!! Well put

4:30 PM
Not Yet Dead said...

Quest: You are not required to put your kids in public school. I know of several families who home school. My own kids go to St. Joseph's in Ogden, and I also know families with kids in LCA, Challenger, and other school systems.

Sorry, a little off topic.

9:23 PM
Admiral Lily said...

I was disappointed to hear of Tom Hanks' comments on the matter. I've always liked him as an actor (he seemed to be one of the more down to earth guys) but his comment against Mormon's made me think less of him. I'm trying not to get too upset over it, though, for several reasons. 1) He's allowed his opinion which is based on his own experiences which are far different from mine. 2) He's hardly the only one focusing the blame on the Mormons even though it was other churches who came to the Mormons for support in the "fight". I was further disappointed when I found out about his connection to Big Love, a show I was appalled with from the first moment I heard of it. You are right int he hypocrisy of these two facts (his statement against Mormons and his involvement in such a tv show). But you can't force people to see truth. They'll see the truth they want to see until they're ready for the real thing. All of this just goes to show that the Adversary is upping the ante in his battle to take down our Heavenly Father's children. I'm not saying Tom Hanks is the devil, but well intentioned people can be misguided by the Father of Lies (Satan). This subject has been difficult for many people, myself included. But when it comes down to it, God's way and his opinion of me are what matter most in my mind and if that means others on this earth think less of me for it, then so be it. I won't deny what I know to be right and true: Families are essential to God's Plan of Happiness for us and there is only way to create life.

9:38 AM
Admiral Lily said...

PS, the other reason I'm trying not to be upset over his comment is because he did apologize. Whether because of sincere regret over a mistake or because of publicity issues, it doesn't matter. He apologized and it's up to us to forgive and move on. I hope to be able to put this behind me and still be able to enjoy his talent as an actor in the movies of his that I choose to watch.

9:42 AM
mexashaggy said...

Sad fully it seems Lauren's post fell on deaf ears. I completely agree with you Lauren on the issue of freedoms. Everyone seems upset about so and so actor saying such and such thing... WHO CARES!! In my opinion, that shouldn't be the issue. Freedom is the issue. There are a lot of basic human rights, one of them being that any of our rights (freedom of speech, freedom of religion, etc.) can not infringe upon another person's rights. This proposition did exactly that. I understand the LDS (and many other Christian denominations) view on gay marriage, and you should be entitled to your opinion, but your freedom of speech and religion should not take away from others rights, freedoms, and beliefs. What if there were a proposition that banned couples from being sealed in the temple? I'm sure you would all be angry and appalled that you were being discriminated against, right? How is this proposition any different than that?

3:37 PM
Sarah Jensen said...

I read your blog to my husband, mom, and sister, they don't do the blog thing. And they all wanted me to say, thank you for Standing for Truth and Righteousness.

It is Constitutional Right to vote, something that many are trying to take away from us. As we think on these issues, I ask, how many know what the Constitution even says? How many Americans have read it? I have.

I have the God given right to vote my conscience. I have the God given right to bear arms. I have the God given right to fight for my family and our freedoms.

How can we fight for the Constitution, a decree give to us by God, if we don't know what it says?

I just ask for everyone to read it. Learn it. And then Stand Up for it.

NMH, I loved this post. You are a true AMERICAN!

10:05 PM
M-O-R-G-A-N-'S said...

Tom: When I served a mission in Canada, they had their National Anthem at the back of the hymnal as well.


NMH: I have always loved Tom until the Big Love series. THAT killed Tom for me and it will never be the same again. I am sadden for his views of our faith. As for Sam, I was never a fan. lol It's really a shame they judge us the way they do. They truly are misinformed and should take the time out to research us like they would a new movie role.
The only thing I can say is this: they will know the truth when they pass on.

10:56 PM
haertchen said...

I'd like to make a comment here.

Thank you, everybody, for not making this about gay marriage. Please continue to stay on topic, and please, please, please don't respond to the posts trying to change it! There are other places you can debate it if you want, for all the good it will do (I've got a few responses myself) but here is not the place, IMO.

This is the most civil blog I've seen in a while. That's how we're going to keep it civil.

If I watched movies are TV any more, this would probably hit home more. I've just become so discriminating with my habits that I hardly worry about it!

9:22 AM
Chino Blanco said...

Tom Hanks puts this brouhaha into perspective (and waxes prophetic) at the 3rd season premiere of Big Love:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u7JgK_mmEBk

"There's gonna be lies, and secrets, and discoveries, and problems. Television!"

1:40 PM