On Tuesday, Tom Hanks set off a fiery debate about the coronavirus pandemic and face masks in the U.S. The actor was one of the first big American stars to test positive for COVID-19, and thankfully survived. In an interview with the Associated Press, Hanks impugned the basic intelligence of anyone arguing against wearing face coverings during this crisis.
"I simply do not get it. It is, literally, the least you can do," Hanks said. "If anybody wants to build up an argument about doing the least they could do, I wouldn't trust them with a driver's license. I mean, when you drive a car you gotta obey speed limits, you gotta use your turn signal, [and] you gotta avoid hitting pedestrians. If you can't do those three things, then I get it, you shouldn't be driving a car. If you can't wear a mask and wash your hands and social distance, I don't understand. I got no respect for you. I don't buy your argument."
Hanks' remarks sparked a big debate on social media for the rest of the day, as people parsed his words. Hanks is seen by many as a universally relatable every-man, so hearing him come down so hard on one side of an issue has surprised many. Others argued that this issue never should have been politicized in the first place, which they see as Hanks' point.
Health experts have endorsed face coverings since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, though at first, they urged people to leave surgical masks and respirators for the medical professionals who needed them most. In an interview with The Street last month, Dr. Anthony Fauci admitted that this might have been confusing for some, but assured readers that masks are proving to be even more vital in the fight against coronavirus than anticipated.
Most popular arguments against masks have been debunked or discredited by medical science. A viral video on TikTok shows an asthmatic woman testing her breathing with an oximeter with different kinds of masks, showing that they do not impede breathing in any meaningful way. As for the "civil rights" argument, mask requirements are generally no different than the requirement that people wear clothing in public, according to a report by Poynter.
Still, many movie fans did not like being dismissed out of hand by Hanks this week. Here's a look at the conversation his interview spawned on Tuesday.
and in that moment tom hanks became president https://t.co/GK2A3TtLJY— Oliver Willis (@owillis) July 7, 2020
Tom Hanks out there showing more leadership qualities promoting a movie than Trump ever has as President.— Schooley (@Rschooley) July 7, 2020
YOU GUYS. Tom Hanks is disappointed in how we reacted to COVID.
I don't know how I'll get through the day now.
Oh, wait.— The🐰FOO (@PolitiBunny) July 7, 2020
Let me check real quick to see if I give a shit that a man I've never met before whose been playing make believe for the last 40 years respects me...— We Savage Few (@WeSavageFew) July 7, 2020
Tom is in somebody's pocket...— The Not So Hollywood Maven (@Hollywood_Maven) July 7, 2020
-, others and society would be able to survive this long.— blwy5941 (@blwy5941) July 7, 2020
Better a Mask Than a Ventilator
I’d hate to see how well you’d handle a ventilator then.— Erika #StayHome (@iam_erika) July 7, 2020
because it can kill anyone whether they are weak or not.— Jon (@__Random_Guy__) July 7, 2020
people are really mad at tom hanks for saying that people who aren’t following basic things like wearing a mask, distancing, and washing your hands are clowns......... pic.twitter.com/aic8DXqUOG— rini. (@baumbachbitch) July 7, 2020
Tom Hanks asked people to wear a mask because he went through it and these fools are telling him they dont care????? pic.twitter.com/vOdCfKQRoI— shadowkobe (@fbitukwila) July 7, 2020