What does sexuality have to do with acting ability, asks Darren Grimes

We have really lost our way. Tom Hanks has lost his way.

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According to Tom Hanks, young actors today should not be given the same opportunities he was given twenty years ago. The multi-Oscar winning actor--who is straight, white, male, and able-bodied--says he could not now play his most iconic roles, as characters facing various adversaries, because in 2022 he must stay in his straight white privileged box.

As a straight man, he couldn’t now make Philadelphia, in which he brilliantly played a gay man who is dying of Aids, he says, nor play Forrest Gump, a man with learning difficulties. The question I want to put to you today is: in 2022, can an actor take on any role? If you’re straight, white and not disabled--like Tom-- you’re probably going to struggle to get a job in Hollywood, which is focused on making dramas about "oppressed groups".

Darren Grimes says Tom Hanks has 'lost his way'
Darren Grimes says Tom Hanks has 'lost his way'

The phenomenon of ‘gayface’ is one you likely haven’t heard of before, and rightly so; you probably have a job, a family, and a life to be cracking on with that don’t involve following the whackery and wokery of Hollywood. But it's a poison that’s spreading through every area of our life. This poison corrupts and distorts the genuine progress that has been made over recent years in social and legal spheres in things like race relations, gay rights and women’s rights.

Gayface is when an actor is straight and playing gay, which used to be known as acting. A novel idea, I know. I think there is no such thing as a ‘gay role’. The only meaningful metric for a role should be that you’re a decent actor capable of acting.

And does this cut both ways? Are gay people not to play the roles of straight actors? If that’s the case, it’s undoubtedly as repressive as the old days, when actors daren’t come out as gay for fear they wouldn’t be cast in any role because of their sexuality. If we judge actors not on their ability to act but if they fancy their sex or the opposite sex, how are we any better than the bigotry of old?

Every week these days there is an attack on some actor for daring to act in a role of a character that doesn’t share their immutable characteristics, but of course, 007 could be a black woman and Henry VIII’s wife Anne Boleyn is played by a black woman and Doctor Who’s most recent iteration was suddenly a woman. It’s inconsistent and doesn’t make sense, but welcome to Hollywood darling.

It's because in today’s woke world, diversity is key, we must shake off the oppressive nature of toxic masculinity, of the whiteness of characters and instead focus on which identity box an actor ticks for a certain role. It is the immiseration of stories and plots that I think is destroying the magic of the industry.

A good actor is able to transform themselves and their viewers into believing that they are the genuine article, that’s the beauty of cinema and theatre. A good actor doesn’t need to have lived the life of their character, and for God’s sake, Tom Hanks played the role of a toy cowboy in Toy Story, last time I checked he has no experience in being a toy or in being a cowboy.

We’ve got to reject this politically correct obsession with identity, in every work of life, you should be given the role if you’re the best, most talented person for the role.

Politics is downstream of culture. The president of the United States now appoints the top judges because of race and gender and major US colleges proudly discriminate against East Asians and White people because of perceived privilege. Here in the UK, the Labour Party has long banned men from standing in some seats and is now bringing in "all-BAME" shortlists. And the BBC has staff quotas for gender and sexuality.

To hell with quotas, to hell with identity checklists and to hell with the idea that an actor cannot play the role of a gay man if they themselves are not gay. Equality means equality. Left wing, Hollywood-inspired identity politics is spreading, breeding resentment, and turning the clock backwards.

We have really lost our way. Tom Hanks has lost his way.