Forty years after his death, John Wayne’s views on race and homosexuality have suddenly sparked a firestorm of tweets from users who believe his comments are somehow representative of America as a whole in the Trump era.
After a viral tweet began to circulate over the weekend, highlighting portions of a famous 1971 Playboy interview, the phrase “John Wayne” was trending on the platform by Tuesday evening as users found their feeds flooded with both outrage and confusion at the new-found relevancy of the interview.
The tweet highlighted particularly jarring portions of the interview, such as Wayne’s belief that films portraying homosexuality were “perverted,” and statements asserting that “blacks” were uneducated and therefore lacked adequate “responsibility” for leadership positions. (RELATED: Twitter Responds To Complaints About Reza Aslan’s ‘Punchable Face’ Tweet)
Pia Glenn, an actress who played Condoleezza Rice in Will Ferrell’s 2009 political comedy “You’re Welcome America,” asserted that there exist “direct lines” between Wayne’s language “and the country today.”
OK but to be fair, this was a very different time!
…now that I’ve gotten the attention of anyone who might agree with the above statement, let’s be clear that this is exactly who America’s “hero” was & let’s look at the direct lines between this language and the country today https://t.co/Uucec8NrA0
— @PiaGlenn (@PiaGlenn) February 19, 2019
“I love the tweets explaining how John Wayne was born in the early 1900’s so we shouldn’t be horrified,” journalist Elon James White wrote. “Ya gotta pick one. Are we trying to go back to those times or were those times terrible? Ya can’t make America great again while making excuses about how shitty it was.”
I love the tweets explaining how John Wayne was born in the early 1900’s so we shouldn’t be horrified.
Ya gotta pick one. Are we trying to go back to those times or were those times terrible? Ya can’t make America great again while making excuses about how shitty it was.
— Elon James White (@elonjames) February 19, 2019
Others pointed out that comments made almost 50 years ago by someone born 112 years ago are bound to be outdated.
“I am shocked that John Wayne, who was born in 1907 (!) made some un-progressive remarks in 1971. Just shocked. This is me being shocked,” Reason Magazine editor Robby Soave joked.
I am shocked that John Wayne, who was born in 1907 (!) made some un-progressive remarks in 1971. Just shocked. This is me being shocked. pic.twitter.com/MswXTGXRZA
— Robby Soave (@robbysoave) February 19, 2019
John Wayne was only emboldened to say these terrible things because Donald Trump is president.
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) February 19, 2019
I wish John Wayne was still alive so he could laugh in the face of today’s weaklings, light up a Lucky Strike, and cruise away with their girlfriends.
— Jesse Kelly (@JesseKellyDC) February 19, 2019
These calls to denounce Wayne come just weeks after Democratic Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam refused to resign amid evidence that he appeared in a photo containing both blackface and KKK garb only 32 years ago.