John Wayne’s Racist ‘Playboy’ Interview From 1971 Resurfaces – Celebrities React With Anger
Academy-Award winning actor John Wayne (born Marion Morrison) may have been dead for about 40 years, but on Tuesday morning, he was trending on Twitter. After screenwriter Matt Williams posted screenshots of Wayne’s infamous 1971 Playboy interview and reminded his Twitter followers that Wayne was a “straight up piece of shit,” Twitter went wild rehashing the racist and homophobic interview.
Jesus fuck, John Wayne was a straight up piece of shit
(Playboy interview, May 1971) pic.twitter.com/okfG1iZb0U
— Matt Williams (@pixelpreaching) February 18, 2019
The original interview, which can be read in full here, took place toward the end of Wayne’s 50-year career. Coming off the heels of an Oscar win for his performance in the 1969 film True Grit, the actor, who was 64 years old at the time, unabashedly shared his political ideologies with the magazine. Addressing a range of issues from communism to the portrayal of Native Americans in his Western films, Wayne said a number of offensive things about race, sexuality and white privilege.
“I believe in white supremacy until the blacks are educated to a point of responsibility,” Wayne said at one point during the interview, and even going so far as to claim that he did not feel “guilty about the fact that five or 10 generations ago (black) people were slaves,” and likening slavery to “the kid who gets infantile paralysis and has to wear braces so he can’t play football with the rest of us.” At other times, Wayne justified his his films’ stereotypical depictions of Native Americans, claiming that he didn’t feel the U.S. “did wrong in taking this great country away from them… 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.” Earlier in the interview, Wayne also criticized the 1969 film Midnight Cowboy for its “perverted” depiction of “two fags.”
Although Wayne’s interview was met with backlash even at the time of its original release, a number of celebrities took to Twitter on Tuesday to discuss how Wayne’s continued legacy in the film community illustrates that these problems still exist. Comedian Whitney Cummings asked her followers to “focus on the alive” racists in Hollywood, while Patton Oswalt joked that Wayne thought he was “woke” because he would cast black actors for black roles.
You guys don’t need to go back to John Wayne to find racist homophobes – maybe we should focus on the alive ones?
— Whitney Cummings (@WhitneyCummings) February 20, 2019
“If it’s supposed to be a black character, naturally I use a black actor” was as “woke” as John Wayne got, I guess. https://t.co/4cDjs886gr
— Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) February 19, 2019
During his lifetime, Wayne was one of the biggest names in Hollywood, starring in hundreds of films over the course of his 50-year career. At the time, he was one of the most celebrated and iconic figures in Hollywood. But today, Wayne’s legacy is less than favorable, and his films seem tainted by the actor’s racist and homophobic views that linger even 40 years after his death.