The ghost of John Wayne

Learning tolerance from a dinosaur

A tall man in a wide brimmed hat stands a doorway, the bright western light behind him, his right forearm across his body, the hand holding his left elbow. A six-gun hangs low on his hip. His expression says he’s seen and he knows. He stands there for several seconds then slowly turns and walks away into the landscape with a slightly lob-sided gait.

John Wayne has become a forgotten movie star. It’s difficult, now, to describe how huge his fame was to anyone under 30, so you’ll just have to trust me; his face and his movements were instantly recognisable to a global audience until the 1980s. He was the very definition of a movie star.

He’s forgotten partly because that’s the nature of cinema, partly because the kind of masculinity he epitomised is out of fashion now, but also as a result of modern discomfort with his political views.

I’m not going to concern myself with the details of his politics here. I wouldn’t agree with him, but I’ve never felt disagreement should be a bar to discourse – unlike so many these days. It seems acceptable, indeed expected, now for someone with a political affiliation to simply ignore anyone with a differing idea. Which is a genuine tragedy.

Things haven’t always been that way; Wayne is a good example. He was a right-wing conservative, but one of his best friends in later years was Katharine Hepburn, his polar opposite politically.

A Hollywood dinosaur, but maybe there are things we can learn from when such beasts walked the earth.


Buy me a drink and I’ll tell you some lies

£5.00

Author: paulhardycarter

Photographer. Probably. Writer. Fitfully. Biker. Occasionally. Contrarian. Constantly.

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