Wayne’s image is questioned
To the editor:
Even though conservatives have long accused the motion picture industry as being essentially a liberal bastion and the news media as somehow having a liberal bias, how is it explained that conservative icon John Wayne, who was born Marion Morrison, throughout much of his career as a celluloid megastar was and continues to be celebrated by many as the personification of American patriotism, in spite of the fact that during the time when our way of life was threatened like never before or since (the World War II era), he chose to stand down and let other members of our nation’s greatest generation bravely put their lives on the line for our great nation, as Wayne chose to do his fighting on Hollywood movie sets, while establishing and fortifying his well-manufactured image as an American “hero” and increasing his bank account exponentially in the process?
I wonder if Wayne’s obvious contradictions between his public image and reality would have proven detrimental and, possibly, even career-ending if he had been a liberal in his political views as opposed to being staunchly conservative?
A great many motion picture actors who were eligible to serve in our nation’s military during World War II chose to put their careers on hold and patriotically place the needs of our nation above their personal ambitions and safety, whereas Wayne eschewed military enlistment and service.
At the outbreak of World War II, Wayne was essentially a successful actor, appearing mostly, however, in Western “B” level movies, whereas arguably much bigger stars such as Jimmy Stewart, Clark Gable, Henry Fonda and others were bravely willing to answer our nation’s call. However, Wayne, who chose to play it safe and let others do the fighting, somehow became the symbol of American patriotism and bravery, did not.
It appears that many who continue to admire Wayne apart from his fine work as a motion picture actor but as a result of the carefully created image of the man, himself, are either unaware of unwilling to admit that reality and image are not always compatible, but, rather, appear quite diametrically opposite in this care.