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February 19th, 2019

Oh We’re Not Getting You Wrong Mr. Wayne…

The day Brokeback Mountain got an Oscar nomination, and the stately senior members of the Screen Actors Guild, appalled, said that John Wayne was rolling in his grave, they knew who it was they were talking about…

John Wayne’s Racist and Homophobic Playboy Interview Resurfaces, Twitter Reacts

At the top of the interview, the then 63-year-old is complaining about the “perverted” movies currently being produced, when the interviewer asks him which films he means.

“Oh, ‘Easy Rider,’ ‘Midnight Cowboy’ — that kind of thing,” he horrifyingly replies. “Wouldn’t you say that the wonderful love of those two men in ‘Midnight Cowboy,’ a story about two f–s, 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.”…

Go read all of it. None of this would have surprised anyone the day that Playboy interview was published. Wayne’s hard core right wing kookery was an public joke even back then. Except of course among his fellow Hollywood nutcases like Reagan, Linkletter, DeMille and various studio heads to the right of McCarthy and Nixon. Scratch a homophobe, find a racist…

“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.”

None of this would have been surprising or controversial to Wayne’s associates in the industry. They would have been nodding their heads in agreement reading it, and telling themselves it was the communists, the New York Jews and all those dirty fucking hippies who were causing trouble with the coloreds. And outside of there, everyone just about knew where Wayne stood. He never made any bones about it. 

None of that registered on me when I was a kid watching raptly whatever was playing in the theaters that week. Back then movie theaters were Palaces where a schoolboy’s dreams and adventures came to life. I used to make a bee line for every new John Wayne flick that hit the theaters. They were Fun. Lots of things were back in those days.

Then I got a bit older, puberty switched on my hormones, and one day I found myself completely twitterpated by a classmate, a junior with long hair, dark eyes to drown in, a smile that made my knees weak, and long legs that moved his hips in ways that made me shiver every time we crossed paths. One day as we walked together out of school he put an arm around my shoulders and I didn’t come back to earth for hours, and when I did I knew something about myself. And also that movie stars I watched raptly on the silver screen, and Science-Fiction writers whose books I devoured, and rockers whose albums I bought and listened to over and over until I wore the groves out…all of them probably thought I was disgusting human garbage.

But I was in teenage love, and nothing had ever felt so healthy and thrilling and wonderful. And if you asked me to trade the good graces of the entire fucking world for just one smile from the guy I was crushing on, I’d have done it in an instant. And perhaps I did, the moment I realized it.

I am in my middle sixties and looking back on that summer crush I am magnitudes more likely to make that trade now. Nothing I ever felt before or since was more pure. I would do it all again. Roll in your fucking graves…all of you.

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