John Wayne's family defends actor's racist statements after his resurfaced interview receives widespread backlash

FP Staff February 21, 2019 16:52:30 IST
John Wayne's family defends actor's racist statements after his resurfaced interview receives widespread backlash

An old interview of late American screen legend John Wayne, who ruled the screen for three decades with his classic westerns such as The Searchers and True Grit, has resurfaced where the actor had laid bare his racist and homophobic views.

The excerpts of the interview were first posted on Twitter by Tennessee-based screenwriter Matt Williams. The thread went viral on Twitter, generating thousands of responses and considerable backlash.

John Waynes family defends actors racist statements after his resurfaced interview receives widespread backlash

John Wayne. Image from Facebook

Following the outrage, the Wayne family, in a statement to Fox News defended the late actor. They urged fans and the general public to remember him as a "devoted family man, a great friend and a cherished actor" while also being an active worker of cancer treatment. “It’s unfair to judge someone on something that was written that he said nearly 50 years ago when the person is no longer here to respond,” the statement read.

The movie star was interviewed by Playboy's Richard Warren Lewis in 1971, where he shared his views on topics such as diversity in Hollywood, slavery and American history.

During the interview, Wayne, a revered figure in Hollywood, was asked about professor and civil rights activist Angela Davis.

To this, Wayne said, "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," he added.
Wayne died in 1979 aged 72.

On slavery, Wayne said that he does not have any guilt about the US history.

"I don't feel guilty about the fact that five or 10 generations ago these people were slaves. Now, I'm not condoning slavery. It's just a fact of life, like the kid who gets infantile paralysis and has to wear braces so he can't play football with the rest of us," he said.

"I will say this, though: I think any black who can compete with a white today can get a better break than a white man. I wish they'd tell me where in the world they have it better than right here in America," he added.

During the interview, Wayne said he considers 1969 films Easy Rider and Midnight Cowboy as perverted.

"Would you say that the wonderful love of those two men in Midnight Cowboy, a story about two f****t 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," the actor said.

Wayne also shared his views on Native American and their portrayal in cinema, saying it was a good step to take "this great country away from them".

"Our so-called stealing of this country from them was just a matter of survival. They were great numbers of people who needed new land, and the Indians were selfishly trying to keep it for themselves..."

"Look, I'm sure there have been inequalities. If those inequalities are presently affecting any of the Indians now alive, they have a right to a court hearing. But what happened 100 years ago in our country can't be blamed on us today," Wayne said.

On social media, the resurfaced interview spread like a fire with many people, including Hollywood celebrities, expressing their disgust about the actor's views.

Posting an except from Wayne's interview, actor Patton Oswalt tweeted a reply.

(With inputs from Press Trust of India)

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