An open letter to Tom Hanks, from a Wilson

click to enlarge The star of Cast Away and Tom Hanks.
The star of Cast Away and Tom Hanks.

The truth is, Tom, we never had a chance.

I didn't choose my name. And you, I'm sure, didn't know Cast Away would inevitably lead to half the people I've met since I was 9 yelling "Wiiiiiiiilsssoooooon" upon meeting me.

It was that movie, which I've refused to see, that did irreparable harm to our once-promising relationship. It's left me brooding over ways to justify my distaste for you, as you become ever more adored by the masses.

When I was a young child, you were like an uncle to me. In the short time I'd see you, I laughed with you. I cried with you. I looked up to you.

That movie changed every interaction I have with new people. I can see it in their eyes when I introduce myself. They think of that beach, the blood on the volleyball. They've heard my name before, and they must say it. They must scream it.

And afterward, they must ask me, "Do you get that a lot?"

Yes.

Because everyone who meets me thinks of that face on the volleyball, every time I see you I think of all their faces smirking at their bad joke.

It's a seed of annoyance that's grown into disgust with each new movie, with each SNL monologue, with every attempt to embrace your role as America's dad. Your face is everywhere. And it doesn't help that you always play the hero — Tom Hanks as Sully, Tom Hanks as Captain Phillips, Tom Hanks as Mr. Rogers.

Ugh.

"How can you not like Tom Hanks? What's wrong with you?" people say. I dig in my heels and give some explanation about how I just don't like your whole thing, how you're trying too hard to be loved, how it feels disingenuous.

Nobody else can fathom why I avoid your movies. It's like I've been left alone on an island with no one around to understand me. But I'm writing to tell you that all of my excuses for avoiding you are gone.

You were the first celebrity who got the coronavirus, and you've handled it like a true hero. I see headlines about you donating your blood to help develop a vaccine. When an 8-year-old boy named Corona wrote to you because he's bullied for his name, you replied, "You've got a friend in me."

It's so sweet that it makes me want to puke. It makes me feel like a jerk for thinking I got an unlucky first name. But I'm ready to let it go. You've fully disarmed me.

Maybe, now, I'm finally ready to watch Cast Away. ♦

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About The Author

Wilson Criscione

Wilson Criscione, born and raised in Spokane, is an Inlander staff writer covering education and social services in the Inland Northwest.