Saturday marked what would have been actor John Wayne’s 100th birthday.
The man, born in 1907 as Marion Robert Morrison, was an actor whose films often reflected his personal view on politics and life in general. True, that’s not a rarity for Hollywood, if we take into account some of the leftist celluloid chowder that’s been served up in recent decades, but the Duke represented much of what gives today’s Tinseltown actor/activist the trots: Wayne was fiercely pro-America – an ideal that is, in Hollywood these days, mocked more often than not.
John Wayne also backed wars. He didn’t just “support the troops,” as so many like to say, but he “supported the war” as well. Wayne seemed to know “supporting the troops” and “supporting the war” aren’t mutually exclusive as today’s Hollywood seems to believe.
Hollywood still puts out its share of war movies – often ironically starring, as the combat hero du jour, a feverishly anti-war, anti-gun actor who had to be tutored as to which was the working end of the rifle. My guess is that Wayne might have viewed it as hypocritical for an anti-war actor to rake in millions of dollars for portraying a war hero.
Of course, the Duke lived in a time when “war hero” wasn’t a laughable oxymoron. How silly we were back in the day.
A century after his birth, John Wayne may also have gotten a hearty, smoke-emitting chuckle from watching today’s Hollywood elites fire up a bunch of ozone-busting, greenhouse-gas-spewing tanks, half tracks, diesel trucks and Humvees to make a war movie – and then use the money they make to burn tens of thousands of gallons of jet fuel flying to varied parts of the world to attend rallies led by human rights abusing anti-American dictators, spiral-eyed, hacky-sack-brained activists and the types of people who thought Jimmy Carter was a good president. Once there, they blame planetary ills, both real and imagined, on your SUV and George W. Bush.
Yes, there are still Hollywood actors who embrace America in both their personal lives and in film, but finding one is about as difficult as spotting psychiatric drugs in Tom Cruise’s medicine cabinet. Frankly, the world could use more of both.
Will we ever see the likes of John Wayne again? The Duke was once, arguably, the most famous actor in the world. Today’s most famous are, to a great degree, limo-libs who campaign on behalf of the political candidate who is going to raise our taxes the most. Then, right after the election, the celeb heads halfway around the world on a tax-exile sabbatical to his or her vacation home on the French Riviera.
Again, he would have laughed.
It’s not so much the John Wayne attitude I miss coming from Hollywood as much as the demand for men like him from the public. Maybe the demand is still there, incubating, waiting for another Wayne, if there is one, to emerge and embrace with great zeal. Not today.
Hollywood, as it exists today, displays a kind of McCarthyism in reverse. Any traditional view of what constitutes “American” is placed in a formaldehyde jar for careful dissection and ridicule before being thrown out of the casting office and back to “flyover country” where it belongs.
But Wayne’s life wasn’t perfect – not even to John Wayne. The man known for so many war movies never served in the military, something that, by most accounts, he ended up regretting.
The Duke was also divorced three times in his life and had extramarital affairs. Some would point to this as proof that Wayne is the embodiment of anything but traditional American values. If we insist on making personal perfection the sole requisite to be a patriot, than I guess most of us, for some reason or other, don’t qualify.
Being an American patriot doesn’t require personal perfection, any particular race, religion, level of education, ardent flag waving or military service. Patriotism is, first and foremost, the ability to recognize and appreciate from where our freedom emanates. John Wayne knew not only that we are free, but why we are free, and he wasn’t shy in showing it.
Of course, the heyday of Wayne was when Hollywood was long on those who were proud to tell the world why the United States was the greatest nation on earth and short on those who apologized for it.
John Wayne, where are you?
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