On March 26, Chet Hanks, the 30-year-old son of Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson, ignited a social media firestorm with three words: White Boy Summer.
Hanks, who is also a rapper known as Chet Haze, gained notoriety in 2010 for threatening to assault Howard Stern, then again in 2015 for defending his use of racial slurs, and most recently in 2020 for speaking in a faux Jamaican patois at the Golden Globes. But his biggest brush with fame came this year following an announcement he made on Instagram:
"I just got this feeling, man… that this summer is, it's about to be a white boy summer."
White Boy Summer appears to be a spin-off of Megan Thee Stallion's "Hot Girl Summer" song. And while this meme-worthy declaration may be unimaginative or insensitive, there's more nuance to Hanks' definition of a White Boy Summer than meets the eye:
"I'm not talking about Trump, NASCAR-type white," he explained. "I'm talking about me, Jon B., Jack Harlow-type white boys. Let me know if you guys can vibe with that, and get ready. 'Cause I am."
In the caption, Hanks invited his followers to "Tag a REAL vanilla king #Respectfully."
Refinery29 was quick to call this "the worst idea we've ever heard." But to make a fair assessment of WBS, we have to unpack its ever-evolving taxonomy—and that starts with the "Rules and Regs."
The 12 Rules and Regs of #WBS
The morning after declaring summer 2021 a White Boy Summer, Chet issued his "Rules and Regs" while strolling through the streets of Los Angeles.
Here's a rundown of the rules, which one Twitter user called the "Bill of Whites:"
1. No Plaid Shirts
"You can't be looking like a picnic table out here, boys….leave that shit at home. The Vineyard Vines, ya know, the Ralph Lauren, whatever the fuck. Leave that shit at home. Put on a black tee, white tee, you know what I mean? Keep it simple."
2. No Sperry Top-Siders
"That's NOT the type of white boys we're talking about, dawg. Get yourself some Vans... some Jordans. I'm not really a sneakerhead. Feel it out."
3. No Calling Girls "Smokeshows"
"That term, it's played out. You can't just see a hot chick and be like, 'Did you see that f—king smokeshow dude, that f—king smoke dude.' Okay, that's over with. "
4. No Salmon Colored Clothes
"Burn it, burn that shit. Don't ever wear it again."
5. No Cargo Shorts
6. Backwards Hats are Good
"Someone put forth a proposition that we ban all backward hats [laughs]. I shut that shit down real quick. Backward hats are, and will remain, good."
7. Respect Personal Space at Parties, ESPECIALLY While Drunk
"As we get closer to summer and it gets hotter out, and there's pool parties and barbecues: white boys, it is not WBS to get all drunk and sweaty, you know, sunburn in your face, booze breath, and going up to people you barely f—king know and getting all in there personal space, okay."
8. Flip Flops are Good
"Flip flops are good, especially if they're the Gucci ones. Rock them with some socks, whatever, it's cool. Sweatpants, it's all good."
9. No Birkenstocks
"That shit ain't kosher."
10. Do Not Cheap Out On Alcohol
"I know this might hurt the pocketbook a little bit, but for like all kickbacks, pregames, ragers, whatever...no more Busch Light. Spend the extra dollar, get some name brand shit, get the Bud Lite."
11. Country Music is WBS
"Listening to country music doesn't make you an ignorant racist piece of shit. Being an ignorant racist piece of shit makes you an ignorant racist piece of shit."
12. No Racism, Prejudice, or Ill Will Towards Others
"You know what's not WBS? Having any ill will or prejudice towards anybody of a different background, race, walk of life than you. That's the shit we gotta elevate, and...you know, get rid of."
"White Boy Summer" Is Taking Some Heat
Chet Hanks had to know this move would lead to befuddled head-shaking, if not chaos and outrage. So why would he throw gasoline on the already-blazing inferno of internet discourse?
One hypothesis is that he's trying to promote his Actor's Advantage project (you're welcome for the link, Chet.) Others surmise it was all a plot to launch his White Boy Summer merch line. Or maybe it's all a massive accident that he's exploiting for free press and a profit.
Regardless, he's drawn the ire of nearly all mainstream media. Even the whitest of white boy institutions, fraternity blog Total Frat Move, declared that they had beef with Chet upon the release of his WBS Rules and Regulations.
After Hanks dropped his WBS merch line, critics quickly opined that the Gothic font he used was "Nazi-ish." However, typeface experts pointed out that, if anything, he ripped off the New York Times header font or LA Hip Hop culture.
Podcasts and bloggers bashed Hanks for demonstrating a lack of self-awareness, appropriating Black culture, and taking advantage of white privilege. But Hanks doubled down, noting that "It's everybody's summer. This is all-inclusive. This is everybody," he said. "For me, for me, since I'm a white boy, it's gonna be a White Boy Summer. You know what I mean?"
Chet seems to be unfazed by the trending backlash. There's even a rumor that he's filming a White Boy Summer movie. It's impossible to know how this Hollywood scion's saga will end. But all signs indicate he's not hopping off the free publicity train anytime soon.
"They can say whatever they want, and I can say whatever I want," said Chet. "White Boy Summer, stay tuned."