Tom Hanks: Cynicism has become the default position in our society
Speaking at the Toronto International Film Festival movie royalty Tom Hanks has spoken about how cynicism rules our lives and how we need to embrace the philosophy of the late Fred Rogers.
Tom Hanks is set to expand his cinematic portfolio in November as A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood hits our screens. The film follows the eternally cheery outlook of US kids TV host Fred Rogers and his interactions with a cynical journalist, Lloyd Vogel, looking for a scoop.
Hanks, who is casted as Mr Rogers, has spoked about how this cynicism in the film is something that rules our everyday lives.
"Cynicism has become the default position for so much of daily structure and daily intercourse," Hanks told reporters according to the BBC.
"Why? Because it's easy, and there's good money to be made."
"Cynicism is a great product to sell, and it's the perfect beginning of any examination of anything. And part of that is conspiracy theories and what have you.
Fred Rogers was the host and mastermind behind his eponymous kids TV show Mister Rogers’ Neighbourhood. The show ran from 1968 all the way to 2001, with Rogers passing away in 2003. Rogers in his TV show often reinforced to his young audience the importance of mental health, accepting who you are, and remaining positive and hopeful in life.
Including specials, the show had 912 episodes, covering topics like happiness, sadness, frustration, acceptance, and even explaining the heavy-hitters to children such as the JFK assassination.
Best of Humans did a great video getting together some of his best moments
The film follows the relationship between Rogers and Vogel (based on the actual journalist named Tom Junod) for Esquire magazine, who wrote a profile of the host in 1998. The film follows the two forming a friendship and showcases Rogers’ unrelenting empathy and positive philosophy.
"But I think when Fred Rogers first saw children's programming, he saw something that was cynical, and why would you put something that is cynical in front of a two or three-year-old kid? That you are not cool because you don't have this toy? That it's funny to see someone being bopped on the head?
"That's a cynical treatment of the audience, and we have become so inured to that, that when we are met with as simple a message as 'Hey you know what, it's a beautiful day in the neighbourhood!' we get slapped a little bit. We are allowed, I think, to feel good. There's a place for cynicism, but why begin with it right off the bat?"
Going back to Hanks’ comment on cynicism selling well, that was in fact a hurdle the filmmakers faced when making Rogers’ positivity interesting to the audience.
Marielle Heller, the director behind the film explained that Rogers as a man wasn’t someone with a lot of inner conflict, his personality would provide little to no resolution or catharsis on the big screen as he was already content with life.
Video from Movieclips
To tackle this, the creators instead introduced Vogel, as played by Matthew Rhys, who is cynical, as a character who shall experience growth throughout the film.
Heller tells the The Hollywood Reporter:
“I also thought their script was so smart because Mr. Rogers can’t be the lead of a movie — he’s not someone with enough conflict. He doesn’t have the dynamic nature you need for a protagonist for a movie, but to have him be essentially the antagonist of a movie — who comes into someone’s life and flips it upside down through his philosophy and the way he lived his life”
The film is slated for a November 22 release. You can check out the trailer for the uplifting film below: