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John Wayne: An Iconic A-hole

Greetings.   Thank you for taking a break from posting selfies, watching Brazzers, playing the “new” WoW, sending unsolicited pics (probably of a dong) or whatever else it is ya do on what must indeed be a busy day.

Once upon a time, although the following actually happened, well, some of it happened.

Let’s start at the beginning.

The star of our journey will be a fellow by the name of Marion Mitchell Morrison, but most know the man as the one and only John Wayne aka “The Duke.”

To many, the legend of The Duke represents the never say die, tough guy, kick-ass American spirit.  To numerous others, Wayne embodies a chain-smoking, abusive womanizing drunk, with a propensity to promote his racist and, generally, hateful ideological worldview.   Obviously, such a polarizing figure like Mr. John Wayne would allow for hours of highly enthusiastic emotional “debates.”

A few examples of the “real” John Wayne include his own claim to having smoked six packs of cigarettes a day.  It is also said that Wayne’s movie scenes had to be shot before noon.  Otherwise, the crew would have a mean drunk on their hands.   Yet, in his battle with cancer, the man did show “True Grit.”

In 1964, Wayne was diagnosed with lung cancer,  which would result in having his left lung removed.   During this battle, The Duke would coin the phrase “the Big C” to describe his nemesis.   After John Wayne defeated cancer, he would go on to win his first, and only, Academy Award as “Best Actor” in his 1969 “True Grit” performance.

A few years later, in 1971, John Wayne would give an interview that is still widely discussed today.   In fact, there are memes, currently in circulation, based on the 1971 Wayne-Playboy magazine article.

A few highlights include:

PLAYBOY: What kind of films do you consider perverted?

WAYNE: Oh, Easy Rider, Midnight Cowboy—that kind of thing. Wouldn’t you say that
the wonderful love of those two men in Midnight Cowboy, a story about two fags,
qualifies?  But don’t get me wrong. As far as a man and a woman is concerned, I’m
awfully happy there’s a thing called sex. It’s an extra something God gave us. I see no
reason why it shouldn’t be in pictures. Healthy, lusty sex is wonderful.

And:

PLAYBOY: Angela Davis claims that those who would revoke her teaching credentials on ideological grounds are actually discriminating against her because she’s black. Do you think there’s any truth in that?

WAYNE: With a lot of blacks, there’s quite a bit of resentment along with their dissent, and possibly rightfully so. But we can’t all of a sudden get down on our knees and turn everything over to the leadership of the blacks. I believe in white supremacy until the blacks are educated to a point of responsibility. I don’t believe in giving authority and positions of leadership and judgment to irresponsible people.

Part of the interview would consist of Wayne boasting on having been kind enough to have “had a black slave in The Alamo” and “had a correct number of blacks in The
Green Berets.”

One more example, from the same interview, of the real John Wayne:

PLAYBOY: That’s hardly the point, but let’s change the subject. For years American
Indians have played an important—if subordinate—role in your Westerns. Do you feel any empathy with them?

WAYNE: I don’t feel we did wrong in taking this great country away from them, if that’s what you’re asking. Our so-called stealing of this country from them was just a matter of survival. There were great numbers of people who needed new land, and the Indians were selfishly trying to keep it for themselves.

Although Wayne’s views can be interpreted in multiple ways, the easiest narrative would be, “John Wayne was a racist, homophobic asshole.”

Nothing in life is simple, right?

Yet, a popular legend holds, Russia’s leader, Joseph Stalin ordered the KGB to snuff out the fiercely anti-communist, John Wayne.   After Stalin’s death, Nikita Khrushchev would personally apologize to Wayne and provide his assurance the assassination order was no longer valid.   To add a whole new level of “WTF” to the story, it has been claimed, John Wayne even managed to kidnap his would-be assassins.

Undoubtedly, John Wayne is a complicated American “Icon.”

Separating the truth from fiction seems impossible.  For every one good Wayne account, there is an offsetting horrible tale.  On one hand, his long career resulted in films and characters people still love, yet, the real guy behind such treasures was likely a genuine, authentic asshole (enjoy a point-counterpoint by a John Wayne defender, it’s interesting).

Was John Wayne an American Icon or just another famous jerk?

The answer is and will likely always remain in the eye of the beholder.

The underlying truth, John Wayne, similar to America itself, is complicated and polarizing.  The main thing to remember about John Wayne– he was not a real person.  John Wayne was a character, a Hollywood creation, a mere illusion.

Marion Morrison was the man to play the lifetime part of John Wayne.   Nonetheless, it must be noted, Duke Morrison was never truly John Wayne:

Marion Morrison had never been fond of his feminine-sounding name. He was often given a hard time about it growing up, so to combat that, he gave himself a nickname: Duke. It was his dog’s name. Morrison was so fond of his family’s Airedale Terrier when he was younger that the family took to calling the dog “Big Duke” and Marion “Little Duke,” which he quite liked. But when he was starting his Hollywood career, movie execs decided that “Duke Morrison” sounded like a stuntman, not a leading man. The head of Fox Studios was a fan of Revolutionary War General Anthony Wayne, so Morrison’s new surname was quickly settled. After testing out various first names for compatibility, the group decided that “John” had a nice symmetry to it, and so John Wayne was born. Still, the man himself always preferred his original nickname. “The guy you see on the screen isn’t really me,” he once said. “I’m Duke Morrison, and I never was and never will be a film personality like John Wayne.”

The moral of the tale is two-fold. 

First, those that desire to keep enjoying John Wayne flicks– do so to your heart’s content, it is ok.  But, please keep in mind point #2: John Wayne was not a real person.   Thus, to each and every would-be, wannabe toughie– you are not and will never be John Wayne.  So, get past the hard-ass persona, the manly man that must always be a man aka the John Wayne Syndrome (there are many definitions but yours truly went with the one found in a 1991 New York Times article).

If one really examines the case of Marion Morrison from afar, it is plausible, if not a certainty, that a young man finding himself typecast as a tough, all-American hero may have never discovered or maybe was never allowed to be his “true” self.   For Morrison, there may have never been a chance to step away from the overwhelming shadow of a beloved icon.   Perhaps, everything the world “knows” or believe we know about the real John Wayne was an act from a man trying to stay true and to never break his character.

As for Mr. Marion Morrison, maybe, just maybe he is visible somewhere within a chilling interview, shortly before his death, with Barbara Walters.

The John Wayne Syndrome may have dominated the life of Marion Morrison– but don’t let it dominate your life.  It’s ok to cry, it’s ok to be scared, it is ok to be a real human being, that shows emotions, will ask for help, and will “talk things out” instead of threatening or harming others as a means to conflict resolution.

In truth, only the people that knew Mr. Marion Morrison (if anyone truly did) are the ones that might be able to determine myth from reality.  The rest of us are left with a character that adequately depicts the America he lived in, for better or worse.

A positive summation wishes to remind all to stop being judgmental, think outside of what you might know, admit to what you don’t know– maybe others will be easier to understand– and even become more human, less monsterish than they might seem.

 

Finally, a shout out from TheDR.World to the artistic young people that yours truly discovered and watched their twice ‘liked’ video from 2014 (now, make it three likes– WOO WOO!) on Youtube.com, titled John Wayne Syndrome.

 

1 thought on “John Wayne: An Iconic A-hole

  1. […] previous article, John Wayne: An Iconic A-hole was meant to serve as a set-up to a discussion on a still unresolved mystery.    A tale that may […]

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