Late yesterday night, Tom Hanks and his wife, Rita Wilson, announced they both had tested positive for the coronavirus while in Australia. Their post about it was pretty lighthearted, all things considered. (Tom even signed off with “Hanx!” for Christ’s sake.) Still, you could almost feel a global frisson — if the Hankses themselves could contract this virus, then there’s clearly no chance for the rest of us, who are not rich, famous, or internationally beloved and therefore not immune to getting sick, which I always assumed the famous and adored generally were. That’s just science.
And we’re not just talking about any celebrity. We’re talking about Tom Hanks. Tom Hanks getting sick is like if Santa got whooping cough. He’s not supposed to get sick! He’s supposed to make heartwarming movies about Mr. Rogers that are so touching they force my husband and me to write an angry Amazon review demanding that the movie have some kind of parental advisory for adult weeping.
After the news broke about Hanks and Wilson, Chet Hanks, their bulkiest son, took to Instagram to calm us down. “Yeah, it’s true, my parents got coronavirus. Crazy,” he says, shirtless and covered in tattoos, wearing a backward baseball cap, the way that I want all information about international pandemics to be delivered to me. “They’re not even that sick. They’re not worried about it. They’re not tripping but they’re going through the necessary health precautions, obviously. I don’t think it’s anything to be too worried about.” He ends his missive with, “Much love,” because of course he does.
Listen, I didn’t think I would be taking my cues about calming down during the end of the world from Chet Hanks, a white-guy rapper who most recently made headlines for inexplicably speaking (pretty good?) patois while on the red carpet for his dad’s lifetime achievement Golden Globe award in January. And yet, here I am, watching his Instagram post over and over again, trying to remind myself that everything will be okay, and one day soon I will be able to go back outside and touch my face with careless abandon. His speech is reasonable and soothing, especially for someone who looks like a Grand Theft Auto character; he doesn’t panic while he lets us know his parents are taking all the necessary precautions.
His speech is so reasonable and soothing, especially for someone who looks like a Grand Theft Auto character.
His Instagram is littered with inspiring “Chet Chats” where he talks about self-love, personal growth, and even gets a bit existential, something that I didn’t know until I spent hours watching them to self-soothe after my ever-mounting anxiety made me sleep, yet again, for 13 hours straight. “This is just a little daily reminder that one day you’re going to die. We’re all going to be dead,” he said on Instagram two weeks ago. “I don’t mean that to depress you. I mean that to inspire you. Do you think Pop Smoke thought that was going to be his last day on the planet? No. But each of us has an expiration date. When it’s your time to go, do you want to look back on your life and know that you were afraid the whole time, afraid to even be yourself because you were worried about what everyone else was thinking, doing, judging? Or do you want to look back on your life and know that for the whole fucking time you rocked out to the fullest extent of yourself, and that you were exactly who the fuck you wanted to be? You didn’t give a fuck.”
When did Chet Hanks become an inspirational speaker? Why is that speech actually motivating me to both not fear death but also get out of bed for the first time in days?
We need comfort where we can get it right now. It’s unclear how fast the coronavirus could spread, and it’s unclear how much we should panic. But at least we have Chet, doing nine-minute Instagram videos about “Mental Stability, Freedom, and White Privilege” while also doing patois again, my god, why can’t he stop???
Maybe this is just indicative of my brain worms, but nothing has comforted me more in this time of uncertainty — not any government announcement, not any social distancing, not any quarantine — than watching Chet Hanks do burpees at some random-ass park, shirtless. His Instagram is this strange combination of aggressively inspirational screeds juxtaposed with selfie posts from another overprivileged child of a famous rich man who clearly will never have to have a 9-to-5 for the rest of his stupid, stupid life.
I love him so much. If his upper arms, which look like they have exploded, get the coronavirus, I will die.
We need comfort where we can get it right now. It’s unclear how fast the coronavirus could spread, and it’s unclear how much we should panic. But at least we have Chet.
The last few weeks have been dark for nearly everyone. Travel plans are canceled, conferences and concerts have been put on hiatus, people are getting sick, and everyone’s worried about the most vulnerable people in their families. Mine are in India right now and I’m concerned about how I’m going to get them home. It’s a scary, uncertain period in global history, proof positive that there’s no place to run for comfort. Except for one place: Chet fuckin’ Hanks' Instagram account, where he lectures about “duality, totality, and the I AM,” then immediately launches into something Plato said that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Though I have no idea why this is happening, I do know it’s more soothing to me than anything else right now.
And just to be clear, before this piece whips you up too much, know that I’m only writing this because my two editors told me to. Please direct your complaints to them and leave me the hell alone. I don’t need to be afraid of some jacked-up flu and your shitty emails. ●