The Complete, Confusing, Misguided Saga of Chet Hanks’s “White Boy Summer”
Chet Hanks declared it was a "white boy summer" and it's lacking a crucial element: self-awareness.
So much has happened since the #WBS saga began — and it has all unravelled in a series of messy events that have overall turned out pretty good for Chet Hanks.
After his initial social media run and subsequent promotion of his actor's studio (which he promoted as if anyone would take tips from him other than like, how to get to his father), Chet took the opportunity to turn his trending hashtag into a full fledged brand — complete with T-Shirts adorned the words "White Boy Summer" in a hideous gothic font.
As the days progressed, Chet began expanding his offerings in the name of inclusion — or making more money. New iterations of the merch appeared, including "Black Queen Summer," "Black King Summer." "Brown Boy Summer," "Latina Queen Summer," "Asian Boy Summer," and more.
Though at first it seemed like Hanks would continue to ignore all the criticism his movement was getting, he finally addressed some of the qualms people had with #WBS in an Instagram post with a lengthy caption.
Hanks addressed some of the concerns about the general movement and his merch saying: "I quickly realized it was going to be my biggest viral moment yet, and I had to capitalize on it. So I came out with the shirts. I just thought Old English was a dope [a**] font, but once I posted it I realized how it could be taken the wrong way by the wrong kind of people. Horrified at the idea of being a part of the PROBLEM, I quickly tried to fix the issue by including merch for all races."
Hanks was referring to how critics of his font choice said that, other than being sartorially abhorrent, was giving some Proud Boy vibes and some storming the Capitol energy, making his promise of a White Boy Summer sound like …. a threat.
But the post also addressed another pressing aspect of Chat Hank's controversiality: the recent domestic abuse allegations against him.
Shortly after his virality began, an ex girlfriend came forward and, in a $1Million lawsuit, shared her story of physical and emotional abuse by the social media personality.
Hanks denied the allegations, saying in the same Instagram post that the accusations were "nothing more than a vicious attempt to extort money from me and assassinate my character."
After employing the classic rebuttal of "character assassination" to dismiss his ex's claims, and with his apology out of the way, Hanks has continued to bask in the glow of his supporters and keep churning out #WBS content.
Most recently, Hanks finally released what we all feared he might: a music video to his very own song, "White Boy Summer."
Chet Hanx - White Boy Summer (Official Music Video)www.youtube.com
The video is exactly the chaotic mess you would think, full of shots of Hanks surrounded by money and women — even some that inexplicably show him with a Jamaican flag around his shoulders —and the lyrics also leave a lot to be desired.
A small controversy emerged on the internet when it seemed that Hanks might have said the N-word during the song. Around the 1:42 mark, Hank's unpolished flow makes it seem like he says the line: "let me see a [N-Word] twerk," though some say he just said "make it twerk." With the official lyrics not being released, we're left to our own devices to figure it out.
Hanks said: "you go take a look at her and then let me know, tell me who do you think is more tapped into the culture?"
By attacking the journalist's appearance instead of listening to the valid critiques, Hanks exemplifies what we all thought of when we heard the phrase White Boy Summer: white male entitlement. He weaponizes his platform and privilege in a disgusting show of misogyny, equating her value to his opinion on her appearance, or her adherence to some nebulous conception of "the culture." White Boy Summer has revealed itself to be just another way to keep the status quo in check under the guise of self-improvement and inclusivity.
Through everything from serious allegations made against him, ubiquitous criticisms of the White Boy Summer concept, and a poorly reviewed music video, Chet has managed to do what white boys do best: prosper on little to no talent.
And now that it seems #WBS cannot be stopped, I begin to wonder ... where Tom Hanks is when you need him most?
Chet Hanks uses his Instagram account purely to be an agent of chaos.
Years from now if he announces, that his internet persona has all been a social experiment, I would rush to believe it because the alternative is accepting that, for reasons unknown, he's just like this.
Chet Hanks is the son of Tom Hanks. Yes, the same Tom Hanks who single handedly convinced America that Covid-19 was real when he admitted he had it in the only celebrity Covid-era video worth watching; and, as if he hadn't done enough, he did his best to hold together the fractured attempt at "uniting the nation" that was the Biden Inauguration.
And while the adage "like father, like son" rings true for many families, especially with all the legacy celebrities running around Los Angeles, it seems not to be the case here. Chet is so unlike his father that most of us can't even imagine them having a conversation. Yet, I'm equally drawn to both of them in opposite ways: Tom Hanks for his iconic roles and Hollywood status, Chet because of his iconic and perplexing internet persona.
Chet, AKA Chet Haze, is known for his penchant for often speaking (and, as if it couldn't get worse, rapping) in a Jamaican accent for no reason (except: racism) and clips of him launching into patois have made their rounds across the internet more than once, alongside his Northwestern University themed rap, "White and Purple" — a play on Wiz Khalifa's "Black and Yellow." Go cats, I guess?
He is no stranger to controversy — not just for the patois but also for using the N-word, defending his use of the n word, then backtracking and blaming his actions on his use of cocaine.
Much of the internet's fascination with Chet is that, most of the time, he just seems so lacking in self awareness that we can't decipher what he's really doing, or why. Does he know we're laughing at him? Does he know that absolutely no one is convinced by his rap career? Does he know that all we want is to one day understand how Tom Hanks could have been the one who raised him?
His most recent act of chaos was releasing a video on Instagram in which he says he has a feeling "that this summer, it's about to be a White Boy Summer."
I will never stop screaming https://t.co/aJlwo1gbqm— Rap Game Ina Garten (@Rap Game Ina Garten) 1616806521
"Take it how you want — I'm not talking about like, Trump … NASCAR type white," he thankfully elaborates, because that was the exact type of white I was thinking, and "White Boy Summer" sounds like a codename for a second round of Capitol storming.
"I'm talking about, you know, me, Jon B., Jack Harlow type White Boy Summer. Let me know if you guys can vibe with that." he finished.
No Chet, we cannot vibe with that.
Firstly, it is inexplicable as to why on the White Boy Summer vision board the blueprints are Jon B, Jack Harlow — self-described "white boy with a little habanero" — and … himself. The haphazard combination of names brings no clarity to the vision.
And while some of us were still trying to unravel what exactly Chet was on about, he released a follow up video, ostensibly meant to answer our questions but which just started a saga of self-promotion and foolishness that now has a hashtag — #WBS.
The next video started with Chet saying,"They been asking me, 'Chet, if it's going to be a white boy summer, does that make it a Black Queen Summer for you?'" To which he replied, "Do you know me? Because if you did, you'd know that's all year round," ending the sentiment with, "respectfully."
This video, paired with a caption in which he proclaimed: "remember fellas you ain't a real #IVORYKING without a #BLACKQUEEN 👸🏽👸🏾👸🏿" even garnered the highest praise: three laugh emojis from Rihanna herself.
But the pandering was a clear opportunist move to use the attention gained from the initial video to direct traffic to his newest venture, which he outlines in the rest of the video. Actors Advantage, which Hanks pedals with little to no segue, is supposedly a course on "how to get into the game" as an actor.
However, who is buying the course is yet to be revealed, as we all know that Hanks has not made it into the game for his superior acting method but rather pure nepotism. And if he needs to sell courses using controversy and nonsensical social media posts, then maybe he's not "making a living" from his acting like he claims to help others do.
The turn to self-promotion here is reminiscent of Justin Bieber's recent attempt at "wokeness" by using MLK clips that contained the word "justice" in his most recent album, Justice, without actually engaging in any form of activism beyond cutting and splicing a Martin Luther King Jr. speech and reappropriating words about civil disobedience to put into a love song about his wife.
When called out for the many problematic elements in his videos, Chet took it upon himself to make more follow up videos outlining the rules and regulations of White Boy Summer, so people would know exactly the kind of vision he had for his fellow white men.
Genuinely, unironically very sound advice for white boys??? https://t.co/6X46UBkYHj— Claire Penis (@Claire Penis) 1616881702
The guidelines include advice like "no plaid shirts," "no sperry topsiders," and no referring to women as "smokeshows." And while this is actually pretty solid advice for white men (everybody take note), it's just not the time for white boys to be so shamelessly asserting themselves.
Never mind the fact that Chet's White Boy Summer is probably a play off Meg Thee Stallion's iconic Hot Girl Summer in 2019; his tepid imitation comes after summer 2020 was defined by racial protests against white supremacy — a heteropatriarchy made up of, and in the interest of, white boys.
We don't need Chet to remind us that white boys are poised to win again, not with the Derek Chauvin trial ongoing, not if we know anything about the criminal justice system.
If Chet Hanks and his disciples getting ready for the #WBS don't realize that all summers have been their summers, it's because they're so used to the privilege of center stage that recent calls to amplify other perspectives have knocked them off balance.
And though Chet is advocating for men in sneakers instead of Sperrys, the desire to be in the spotlight that he espouses is the root of more insidious ideology. Coming from a white boy whose history in the public eye is defined by his appropriation of Black cultures, the seemingly harmless rhetoric of a summer for white boys to "level up" and "improve" is just another example of the benefit of the doubt that white men are afforded.
Of course Chet Hanks doesn't feel as if he has to tread carefully asserting his whiteness in a time saturated with racial violence perpetrated by white men — white men have never had to alter their actions based on the actions of their peers. While BIPOC are often grouped into monoliths and constantly aware of the assumptions that might be made about them, white men are treated as individuals, complex and separate. Even grouped together in Chet's "White Boy Summer," he gets to put a disclaimer up, saying he's not referring to the bad white guys, and he trusts that we will believe him.
In a last ditch effort to salvage the White Boy Summer, Chet posted a video of him declaring that the White Boy Summer was not about, like, white supremacy.
"The epitome of not-White Boy Summer is having any ill-will or prejudice to anybody from a different background, race, walk of life than you," he says, but even with his best intentions, he doesn't understand that intent and impact are too separate entities.
Having no "ill-will" to a group does not stop you from harming them, and proclaiming your lack of prejudice does not mean you don't have any.
But Chet is right: White boys do need to step it up. Might we suggest a reading list on anti-racism? Donating to mutual aid funds, which will do more for your community than switching up your "hoe" choice will? Or literally anything other than hash tagging a photo #WBS?