JAFFA, Israel – The trailer for Tom Hanks’ latest film, A Hologram for the King, has raised the ire of some Saudi filmgoers for what they claim is an unflattering portrayal of their country.
The film tells the story of a beleaguered Boston businessman who becomes an investment consultant to a Saudi prince and ends up falling in love with a local woman.
The trailer includes a depiction of a Saudi driver with bad teeth, a Saudi “execution” center, a barren desert, and scenes of Hank engaging in a romance with a Saudi woman.
“Saudi Arabia demands an apology from Tom Hanks,” cried a headline on the news site SABQ, adding that an English-language online campaign has been started to “correct” the film’s purported falsehoods.
One reader commented on the site that Hanks, who is only the lead actor and not the film’s financier or director, was “a despicable American who forgot that his country, the root of evil, killed thousands of women in Afghanistan and Iraq. And now he comes to Saudi Arabia, of all places.”
Another wrote: “Our history is known, but the Americans’ is all about gunmen and robbers, and even they admit it.”
Saudis were also unkind on Twitter.
“This attack on our kingdom should be investigated by an international legal team,” tweeted Twitter user Abdullah Altheeb. “We will remain silent no longer.
#توم_هانكس_يثير_غضب_السعوديين بعد قليل الإعلان | مترجم للعربية | وكيف يمكن إيقاف الحملات الشرسة على المملكة بالقضاء الدولي فزمن السكوت أنتهى
— عبدالله الذيب (@Altheeb74) March 12, 2016
“Now even Tom Hanks is trying to make a few dimes off our backs,” wrote Dalia.
حتي توم هانكس شد علي السعودية عشان يعمله شوية فلوس 😂
— Da Lia ™ (@DaLia_FCB) March 12, 2016
Alhussaini concluded: “Hanks hurt himself, his history, and his fans more than us.”
" توم هانكس " أساء الى نفسه والى تاريخه والى مكانته بين جماهيره قبل
ان يُسيء لنا .
— عبدالله الحسيني (@alhussaini0003) March 12, 2016
The controversy spread to the rest of the Arab world. Most notably, the Lebanese paper Al Akhbar ran the headline, “Tom Hanks startles Saudi Arabia.”
Some of Hanks’ fans came to his rescue on social media. Khaled BVD wrote: “It’s a wonderful and special film. It’s enough that Tom Hanks plays the main role.”
روعة ومميز ويكفي انه بطولة توم هانكس 👏🏻👏🏻 ★ Bridge of Spies — https://t.co/Qe6QC326S4
— خالد (@bvd911) March 3, 2016
“Tom Hanks is terrific,” wrote Nabarawi.
عظيم توم هانكس والله
Bridge of spies
— نبراوي (@m_nabarawy) March 1, 2016