John Wayne lays out racist, homophobic views in resurfaced Playboy interview: 'I believe in white supremacy'

'I don't feel we did wrong in taking this great country away from them', actor says about Native American people

Clémence Michallon
New York
Wednesday 20 February 2019 16:22
John Wayne says 'the rest of America shouldn't feel guilty' about racism in 1974 interview

A resurfaced John Wayne interview in which he expresses racist and homophobic views has shocked readers.

The movie star spoke with Playboy in 1971, discussing topics such as diversity in Hollywood and American history.

Screenwriter Matt Williams shared screenshots of the interview on Twitter earlier this week, in a message that has now generated thousands of reactions. A full transcript of the interview was previously published by the University of Virginia.

While responding to a question about professor and civil rights activist Angela Davis, Wayne said: ”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.”

Asked what sorts of films he considers “perverted” (a term he used himself in a previous answer), Wayne mentioned Easy Rider and Midnight Cowboy, the 1969 buddy drama film starring Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman.

“Wouldn’t you say that the wonderful love of those two men in Midnight Cowboy, a story about two f***, qualifies?” Wayne said as he elaborated on “perverted” movies.

“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.”

The Western star, who appeared in movies such as Rio Grande, was asked about the portrayal of Native American people in his films, and whether he feels any empathy for them.

“I don’t feel we did wrong in taking this great country away from them, if that’s what you’re asking,” he said, adding: ”There were great numbers of people who needed new land, and the Indians were selfishly trying to keep it for themselves.”

Wayne died in 1979 aged 72.

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The resurfaced interview has caused a variety of reactions on social media, from outrage to surprise that the interview of a late actor would gain so much attention.

“Man, if you’re upset by this 48-year-old John Wayne interview wait until you hear about our current president,” one person tweeted.

Wayne’s daughter Aissa Wayne endorsed then-candidate Donald Trump during his campaign in 2016. She said her father would have supported Trump if he had still been alive – a claim later disputed by his son Ethan Wayne, the president of the John Wayne Entreprises corporation.

Writer Gennifer Hutchison chimed in: “Many people knew John Wayne was a horrible person before yesterday’s reemergence of that one interview. Many people DID NOT. Not everyone has the same access to information along the same timeline. So... your ‘ugh, didn’t everyone already know this?’ takes feel pointlessly snide?”

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