Tom Hanks Hate Crime

cw: suicide, tasteless behavior, on my part as much as anybody else’s

I kid, that title “Tom Hanks Hate Crime” is sensationalized.  I read a snippet about the steam tunnel kid whose disappearance inspired Mazes & Monsters and the D&D panic in general, and it mentioned that books about the subject came out before the guy was found alive.  So I was picturing this comic scenario where a guy disappears from his college and assumes an identity to get away from it all, then sees Tom Hanks playing him at a local movie theater.  It is to lol.

Unfortunately, the movie came out (on TV, not theaters) a year after he died.  The young fella in question was maybe gay and very troubled.  A failed suicide attempt precipitated his disappearance, a successful one ended his suffering in the sad way.  So basically, Hanks was playing a fictionalized version of a real LGBT youth that committed suicide, tha homophobic bastid.  Again, jk, Philadelphia etc etc.  But it’s more ghoulish than funny, looking at the facts.

The bastid.

vhs cover for Rona Jaffe's Mazes & Monsters


  1. lanir says

    I remember being into D&D around that time. I was pretty young though. Technically not even the 10 years of age the game suggested at the time.

    I think my parents ignored all this until the book by the private detective came out a couple years after the film. Thankfully they weren’t the type of religious to believe in demons so the scaremongering by the fruit loops had them more confused than scared. So I got a couple awkward questions and then they left me alone. Which is good because RPGs, sci-fi, and fantasy were my escapes from the actual dangerous BS in my life.

    The strangest thing to come out of the Satanic Panic for me was one of my grandmothers passing along some dice to me. They supposedly came from a gamer who committed suicide but via 3 or so other people. Who exactly died was more than a little vague. The dice were a bit odd too, the only ones I remember were a pair of white d20s that had 0-9 in red and again in black ink. No idea what game they were really from. Pretty sure the whole story was made up, just not sure if my grandma made it up or if someone lied to her. Felt more like the latter

  2. says

    Interesting story there. Personally, I did not discover RPGs until about 5 years after. My home boy Try-Anything-Once Todd had fundie parents that said he couldn’t play D&D, but he somehow smooth-talked them into allowing other brands of TTRPG lol.

  3. lanir says

    I can totally see that happening. I mean, it’s not like there were logical reasons behind the freak out so there don’t have to be logical constraints on the scope of it either, I guess?

    For real vintage weirdness you have to check out the Chick comics about D&D. They try to actually show you what this would look like and let’s just say the whole concept leaned heavily on the mystery and uncertainty.

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