News & Politics

Six Ways to Strike Back Posthumously at John Wayne's Racism

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a news conference near a wax statue of John Wayne, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016, at the John Wayne Museum in Winterset, Iowa. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Apparently we’ve all run out of problems in 2019, because now some folks are angry about an interview John Wayne gave half a century ago. As it turns out, the Duke wasn’t very #woke. He was #problematic and it’s like OMG I literally can’t even.

We’ve already forgotten about Ralph Northam running around in blackface 35 years ago, so now this is what we’re supposed to get upset about: the John Wayne Playboy interview from 1971.

Are you angry yet? Not as angry as this guy!

Just because John Wayne has crossed the veil of death and is safe from any physical harm or social shaming you’d care to inflict on him, that doesn’t mean you can’t satisfy your hunger for revenge. Here are six ways to make yourself feel better about the fact that John Wayne was ever allowed to exist:

  • Refuse to go to his airport. Did you know there’s a John Wayne Airport in Los Angeles? It’s easy enough to topple a statue of a Confederate general, but how do you take down a whole airport? You can’t, but you can refuse to fly there. If you absolutely must fly there, for business reasons or family obligations or whatever, the least you can do is say the name of the airport in a really sarcastic voice. “Yeah, I need you to pick me up at… ugh… John Wayne.”
  • Stop doing your John Wayne impression around the office. Impersonating the Duke is easy and fun, or at least it was before he was #cancelled. Sauntering around and drawling things like “Howdy, pilgrim” and “Ya lousy varmint” is no good anymore. Unless you want people to think you’re a racist?
  • Remind everybody you talk to about him that his real name was Marion Morrison. “Can you believe that legendary tough guy was named Marion? What a sissy!” If anybody protests that there’s nothing wrong with that because gender and sexual preference are a spectrum, get really annoyed and remind them to check their privilege, as applicable.
  • Enjoy his movies grudgingly. It’s hard to avoid John Wayne’s movies on cable, digital broadcast channels, and various streaming services, so sooner or later you’ll probably find yourself watching one. Just make sure to loudly announce to anyone within earshot that you’re only watching, say, The Searchers for its significance to the history of cinema, not because you approve of Wayne’s opinions on blacks and gays and Native Americans.
  • Point out how his racist sexist xenophobic attitudes have led directly to the Trump Era. So what if John Wayne has been dead since the Carter administration? So what if it’s been years since you thought of him, if ever? You’ve got virtue to signal! How are people going to know how much better you are than a bunch of ignorant white males if you don’t scream it from the rooftops?
  • Turn up this song whenever it’s on the radio as you’re driving around murdering people in Grand Theft Auto V.

    Or, you could just… y’know… not care. John Wayne can’t hurt you. You’re alive and he’s dead. Getting angry about stuff he said half a century ago is dumb. Lots of people said lots of things decades ago that wouldn’t be acceptable today. Fortunately for you… it’s today!

    Enjoy your superiority. Clearly, it’s the most interesting thing about you.