Sioux Falls satisfies its thirst for relevance in Tom Hanks tweet

The locals in Sioux Falls, S.D., lost their collective minds this week, thanks to a fairly nondescript tweet that Tom Hanks made early on Tuesday in support of James and Deborah Fallows’ book, which documents how America’s small towns are reinventing themselves.

Hanks isn’t going to move to Sioux Falls. Hanks doesn’t even want to move to Sioux Falls.

But just mentioning the city was enough to get the Sioux Falls Argus Leader to headline, “Tom Hanks ‘may move to Sioux Falls’.”

Erie, Penn. — the last chapter in the Fallows’ book is about Erie — also invited Hanks to move there, prompting a tweet from another media organization that suggested the Pennsylvania city back off because, “he’s ours.”

No, he’s not, Sioux Falls.

By Thursday, Argus Leader columnist Stuart Whitney had had enough.

“What is wrong with us?” Whitney asked.

Is our feeling of self-worth so low that the slightest brush with fame sends us into teen-like hysterics, like those screaming girls in Beatles concert newsreels who collapse when Paul McCartney glances in their direction?

Sioux Falls is a city of nearly 200,000 people that has emerged as a national force in hospital expansion and financial services, with a beautiful parks system and enlivened downtown.

Yet we’re still shackled by feelings of inferiority that plague the state as a whole – self-fulfilling limitations that delayed South Dakota’s launch into Division I athletics and made us squeamish about Denny Sanford’s face-forward philanthropy.

Whitney says the reaction to Hanks’ tweet is understandable given that the biggest celebraties from Sioux Falls for years were “Mary Hart, Pat O’Brien and the blond guy from ‘Starsky & Hutch.’”

David Soul, for the record. How soon they forget.

It’s been five years since the Fallowses actually visited Sioux Falls for their book and Whitney says the couple overstated the significance of a few things that are now outdated in their review of the city.

But Fallows’ mention of Sioux Falls’ “unrelenting modesty of mindset” struck a chord.

The reaction to the reaction of Hanks’ tweet was either charming or sophomoric, he says.

“Underneath it all was a basic and unspoken desire to be regarded as relevant, if only for a little while,” he said.

Get yourself a raccoon for that sort of thing, Sioux Falls.