Let me just say this fast so it’ll be like a ripped off bandaid and only sting for a few minutes.
John Wayne, you should be ashamed. You were an empty vessel for fear mongering propaganda. You were a barbarian parading as virtuous. You shouldn’t have an airport named for you; your name should be on toilet paper.
There I said it. Readers, are you still with me?
I was a mere whippersnapper when John Wayne made his last films and, since Westerns interested me in the least, I watched most of them as an adult and thought they were rather silly. Real cowboys don’t act or look like the Duke. They’re almost never clean, they spit a lot and some sleep with their horses. But, John Wayne was a frequent visitor to the town where I grew up and even rode in Nevada’s annual parade celebrating statehood. He cut a mighty fine figure, even in his sixties, and I was proud to share a birthday with him (different year lest you try guessing my age.) But alas, some things I was too young to know.
In the clip above, the empty vessel mouthpiece, John Wayne, claims that Congress can override the Bill of Rights for the purpose of national security. Sounds like a lofty principle but what he meant was, Congress can imprison or blacklist anyone suspected of discussing subversive ideas, such as communism. Suspected, being the key word. Not tried. Not found guilty. Suspected. If you didn’t like your neighbor, all you’d needed to do during that deadly time was call up the FBI and say you saw a Communist pamphlet in their house and voila! You could ruin their life. But, like John Wayne, America’s hero, you would be upholding a lofty principle.
In the 1950s a successful screenwriter named Dalton Trumbo was accused of being a communist by a less successful colleague. This led to his imprisonment and subsequent shunning by friends, neighbors and potential employers. A punishment known as “blacklisting.” Desperate for income, he organized a group of fellow blacklisted writers and together they convinced the producers of B movies to hire them incognito and far cheaper than the going rate. And since no one much cared who wrote such masterpieces as This Female is Deadly, they were able to survive.
Until Roman Holiday. That movie won an Oscar for best screenplay and convinced Otto Preminger to ignore the fear mongering, anti-communists and openly hire him.
The above scene from Spartacus, written by Trumbo for Kirk Douglas is a rebuke to the name-calling and finger-pointing that went on during the McCarthy era, a time when the Bill of Rights was ripped and trampled and few people stood up and said “I am Spartacus.”
24 thoughts on “Rip off the bandaid or go to Mars”
Nice post. Seems like a TH’er to me. Ha. Have you ever noticed that many of Wayne’s characters were deeply flawed, occasionally abusive? Never liked the guy and thought Jeff Bridges a far better Rooster Cogburn. Thanks. Duke
Thanks Duke. To me he played the same role again and again. Jeff Bridges, on the other hand, is an actor.
Sure, John Wayne had many flaws. But there was something unique and classic about the Duke no matter what anybody says.
Your comments truly surprise me. I am stunned.
I think that, unless things start to change soon, we will be returning to a Joseph McCarthy-like period in our country, but this time it will be journalists…and maybe even bloggers…who are the ones who will be blacklisted.
The difference today is that the GOP is trying to convince us that the Russians really aren’t so bad. I was thinking of the Trumpers who proudly wear “I’d rather be a Russian than a Democrat” shirts. I guess if you live long enough you see everything.
I suppose it was a weird time. Even Elvis wasn’t immune. Didn’t he try to convince Nixon that the Beatles were subversive?
Back then the Russians were the bad guys and now I’m not so sure they aren’t running the country! I think Wayne played the same role for so long that he couldn’t think beyond it.
I don’t really like westerns, so I am not familiar with a lot of his work. For golden age era films, I’m mostly a Bogart fan.
Trump and Pence and their ilk are very bad news.
Trump plays whatever role gets him ahead and Pence would definitely be happy in the McCarthy era except the enemy would be liberals and evidently not the Russians.
I’ve never liked John Wayne or his movies. His characters were shallow and phony, as was his screen name. His legal name was Marion Robert Morrison. I prefer to think of him as a Marion, rather than the Duke. 🤨
I liked him until I saw the movie Trumbo. I was too young to really understand the Red Scare. To me he was this larger than life guy who would ride his horse down Virginia Street. If there’s one thing I can’t tolerate however, it’s people who point fingers and don’t stand up for each other in the face of an avalanche of unwarranted fear and prejudice.
Yes back in the Hoover and Macarthy days it was, if may say just like Nazi Germany, in the land of the free.
No doubt History will repeat it and anywhere in world. 💜💜
That’s why we need to stand up and say “I am Spartacus.”
I AM Spartacus! 💜💜
Except for the lack of a dimple in my chin and those rugged good looks … “I’m Spartacus!” Seriously though, it does take a real (lump in your throat) kind of courage to stand up for your fellow man and principles worth fighting for. Especially, when all it seems you have to do these days in order to be perceived as American is to look frumpy and overweight, wear a Red Cap with MEGA emblazoned all over the front of it (in ‘biggy letters), hug or wave the Stars and Stripes about, and angrily denounce anyone who disagrees with them on the subject of ‘Individual-1″ as being nothing more than snowflakes and libtards, and therefore, having no right to voice an opinion. Yet, when the man they love and adore tramples all over the rights and values of millions of other Americans in favor of Vladimir Putin and Russia, it’s okay. Seems, maybe these folks might be the ones who are suffering from a little enemy identification problem. Nevertheless, Wayne was wrong if he felt that Congress could override The Bill of Rights simply because they, or anyone else for that matter, SUSPECT someone of engaging in subversive activities. A person’s Civil Rights still matter in this country. Very enlightening post, Jan. :O)
Thank you, my dear. Yes, I think the airing of that particular movie was interesting considering all the idiot MAGA folks who wear tee shirts saying “I’d rather be a Russian than a Democrat” and the GOP leaders who try to downplay Russian interference as no big deal. They really have a shocking lack of knowledge of history and the world. Or they know better but have agreed to the dumbing down of America in order to keep their positions. I hope the time never comes but I hope and pray if it does, I’ll have the courage to be Spartacus.
Jan, you are welcome and I only hope we all have that kind of courage should that day come. Seems like what loyal Trump supporters feel America is and what millions more of Americans—and across more than just the Democratic persuasion—feel America is are two different things. One idea appears to border on the conclusion that it’s okay to be an American and still be in bed with Putin and the Russians interfering with American Democracy and its elections, while the other group despises any kind of meddling by an ENEMY foreign power into our American process of free elections. We only need to look back at the Civil War (which was anything but civil) and where that kind of opposition to American values will lead.
You have to wonder if Trump supporters have even studied history. It doesn’t seem like they have.
No, it doesn’t seem like history is even on their radar. Then again, I sometimes question how many of them graduated high school given many of their nonsensical rantings.
As an Australian, I found the movie ‘Trumbo’ very enlightening. About the same timenas John Wayne was making a horse’s arse of himself, our anti communist ruling class held a referendum to ban the Communist Party, but it failed. I guess, having just fought a war in the name of freedom, most Australians, thankfully, felt that should include the freedom of speech.
Good for Australia! The same party that persecuted people for their pro Russia leanings now doesn’t seem to care about the Trump/Putin romance. Its beyond bizarre.