Tom Hanks close up


‘Elvis’ clip of Tom Hanks saying ‘He’s white’ becomes a meme

'Studios evaluating their list of approved directors.'


Audra Schroeder

Internet Culture

Posted on Aug 11, 2022

Baz Luhrmann’s epic Elvis is now out on VOD (but not HBO Max), and that’s likely the reason a clip from the film has been circulating this week.

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On Aug. 9, duddersj posted a 30-second clip from the film, in which Tom Hanks’ Colonel Tom Parker discovers that the man singing on the radio is white. We know this because “He’s white” is uttered three times, as Luhrmann’s disorienting zoom drives home that Parker’s future client Elvis Presley is white.

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The clip in the original tweet has more than 7 million views, and the meme potential of “He’s white” was immediately tested out.

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Is this imperfect scene enough to drive people to see Elvis? It appears so. Another clip from the film also circulated on Twitter.

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The audio doesn’t seem to have taken off on TikTok just yet. Luhrmann joined TikTok to promote Elvis, which was a lot, though some creators became more focused on certain aspects of Presley’s past. “He’s white” joins another meme from the film: Sweaty Elvis.

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At an Alamo Drafthouse screening of Elvis this summer, one patron was reportedly chastised for laughing during certain parts of the film. But how else are we supposed to react to this very specific choice?

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*First Published: Aug 11, 2022, 3:27 pm CDT