There are so many things to unpack in this news item from Australian Channel 7 headlined “Coronavirus: Tom Hanks replies to Queensland boy bullied over name Corona.” Here is a story that will be studied in future history classes about the global coronavirus pandemic, not to mention future virtual UCB satire-writing workshops livestreamed on Quibi from a Maggiano’s party room rented by the hour. Apparently, an 8-year-old boy named Corona De Vries wrote to Tom Hanks about being bullied, saying that “at school people call me coronavirus.” Hanks, who had contracted and was treated for the coronavirus while in Australia in March, cheered the lad up by sending him a very special gift: not Toy Story 4 merch, which some would call the obvious choice, but a typewriter. Ah, yes, just what every bullied kid wants: more fodder for the bullies. Channel 7 specifies that young Corona was “named after the outermost layer of the sun,” which, again, would make us think some Buzz Lightyear action figures would be perfect. But sure, a typewriter works, too. Li’l Corona can chuck it at oncoming bullies, or use it to write revenge fiction. Hanks is famously a collector of typewriters, and the one he sent to wee Corona wasn’t just any typewriter. It was a Corona-brand typewriter, see, and Hanks enclosed a letter with it, saying: “I thought this typewriter would suit you. I had taken it to the Gold Coast, and now it is back — with you. Ask a grown-up how it works.”
Imagine being a sad bullied kid who gets a big package the exact size and weight of a PlayStation 4, sent from a Hollywood celebrity, and opening it to find this:
Now imagine being Tom Hanks, kissing your grown son Chet Haze good-bye before lugging a vintage typewriter on a 20-hour flight from Los Angeles to Australia. Did he buy it a first-class seat? Did it wear a seat belt? Did he get some typing done, or did he just start watching Alita: Battle Angel and then fall asleep for 15 hours? Now imagine shipping it back to the Gold Coast; the carbon footprint this typewriter has! Considering that this was the typewriter Hanks and Wilson had in self-isolation, we do hope Hanks at least gave it a Clorox wipe-down.
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