Bill Clinton and Tom Hanks in conversation during History Talks


Former President Bill Clinton believes “democracy is fragile right now,” and spoke candidly Saturday on A+E Networks and History Channel’s History Talks about the issues “tearing us apart.”

“What is most important? Our common humanity or our differences? he thought on stage. “And what works best to build the kind of future we all want? Does cooperation work better, or is everything a zero-sum game? »

He answered the rhetorical question by saying, “Life is not a zero-sum game. Football is a zero-sum game — I already watched a game today. I hope that’s not true, but it may be true that saving our democracy is just a zero-sum game because democracy is fragile right now.

The former president was joined by Tom Hanks, chef José Andrés and moderator Chelsea Clinton in an hour-long conversation. They spoke at length about their humanitarian efforts, as well as their hopes and concerns for the country’s prospects.

Chelsea made one thing clear: young people alone should not be responsible for the future of the world. “I hate the framing that young people are going to save us,” she said. “With all due respect, what are adults doing?”

As the audience cheered, a dismayed Hanks said, “She said ‘damn’.”

Hanks, speaking with the reverence and authority of a history professor, argued that educating people about real historical events can help get the public to care about — and stand up for — important causes. in his own community. But being a storyteller is a responsibility that comes with great power, he said. In short, it does not support artists who feel inclined to bend, bow or break with reality.

“I do non-fiction entertainment,” said Hanks, who has played real-life characters like Captain Phillips, Mr. Rogers, Walt Disney and Captain Sully Sullenberger onscreen. “[It’s] the best entertainment because it comes with a degree of education.

But while adapting stories for film, TV, podcasts or documentaries, Hanks said there’s an obligation to make sure the truth doesn’t end up being “crowded out” at the expense of telling a good story. story.

“When we come across awkward facts that we don’t want to talk about because it might detract from a protagonist’s purity…I say, ‘Oh, what you want to do is an alternate story. You want to have an alternate fact.

He continued: “Because I’m the boss, I can say things like, ‘Rather than make something up, why not – why not we, I will say – find a way to make fascinating what really happened? Otherwise, he says, “You can fall down this other path where every movie ends up being some version of ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ and it all works out.”

Also during the conference, Andrés brought the crowd to applause with an impassioned and driving appeal to the government to treat food as a matter of national security. His charity, World Central Kitchen, a food relief operation, has donated hundreds of millions of meals to people and communities in need.

“I’m sorry, but fuel is not the biggest enemy. Weapons are not the most important commodity. The most important energy that we need to take care of is the energy that drives humanity forward. And it’s food.

He called on the White House to act. “Americans right now are hungry. We can do better. Let’s make sure, in a bipartisan way, that Republicans and Democrats declare that we will never have food deserts in America again.

There was a moment of levity in the otherwise heartfelt conversation, as Hanks joked about his dream of playing Andrés in a movie. “I recorded it to lower the accent,” Hanks said, mimicking the inflection of the Spanish chef’s speech. “I can’t cook, but I will read cookbooks until the cows come home.”

For his part, Andrés approves of the choice of casting. But, “he must master his accent well”. Already, Andrés is charmed by Hanks’ efforts. “I fall in love with him every time he says ‘José’. I’m married, but…”


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