Tom Hanks’ Son Chet Hanks Bites Back Against Claims of Cultural Appropriation

Out of Tom Hanks’ four children, his son Chet is the one popping up in the headlines right now. The 29-year-old actor is no stranger to controversy and for the second time this year, he’s found himself in the middle of a cultural appropriation debate. Online, people are chiming in to say whether it’s appropriation or appreciation, but Hanks has decided to address his use of a Caribbean accent.

Chet Haanks
Chet Hanks | Bennett Raglin/Getty Images for BET

What happened the first time Chet Hanks spoke in patois

In a moment that went viral during the Golden Globes, Hanks stopped on the red carpet and was filmed speaking in Jamaican patois. He posted the video on Instagram with a caption – also written in patois – that drew the attention of what’s known as The Internet. His use of the Caribbean accent and dialect sparked a mixed range of reactions from “funny as hell” to “confusing” to CNN’s description of “bizarre.” Many angrily deemed it as cultural appropriation.

After his post caught fire online, he issued a response to the social media frenzy it created by taking a dig at CNN’s coverage. However, he said the attention caught him off guard.

Hanks explained he did it as a joke

In an interview with Hollywood Unlocked, Hanks shared he didn’t expect his red carpet patois antics to go viral. He said he passed Wesley Snipes – someone he never met – and the veteran actor cracked a joke about the moment. As for what made him do it, Hanks told host Jason Lee that he has a girlfriend who’s from Trinidad and he heard her talking on the phone one day in patois and thought “it was dope.”

He added that he’s into learning about other cultures and languages and noted that he’s fluent in Spanish. At the time, Hanks said he received a lot of love on social media and much of it came from Jamaicans.

Hanks is still drawing some ire and decided to address appropriation comments

In one of his recent videos, Hanks is again heard speaking with a Caribbean accent while hanging out at an outdoor gathering. This prompted more criticism about cultural appropriation, and Hanks’ caption challenged anyone who had a problem with it.

In response, he shared another post on his IG page titled “Chet Chat Part 2: Cultural Appropriation,” where he broke down why he compared using a fake accent to black people snowboarding, and brought up hip-hop music.

“If you don’t have a problem with a black person wearing cowboy hats and cowboy boots and loving country music, then why do you have a problem with white people wearing braids and gold teeth and getting into hip-hop music?”

Some social media users state that his actions are a form of stealing from a culture that he’s not a part of, and others called it offensive and insensitive. But Hanks continues to defend his position and believes that saying what he’s doing is “theft” or “stealing” is wrong. In the past few weeks, he’s stated that he’s joking around and has nothing but love for Jamaica and Jamaican people. Online, the debate rages on.