Aug 28, 2015

John Wayne was a Sissy

During the 1950s and 1960s,, John Wayne was the symbol for an all-American frontier masculinity that never really existed, but many people longed for: tough, surly, taciturn, quick with his fists and a gun.  He starred in war movies, dramas, and comedies -- he even played Genghis Khan, but he was most famous as a cowboy hero or antihero in movies with gutsy one- or two-word titles: Hondo, The Searchers, Rio Bravo, True Grit, Big Jake, The Shootist. 

But the "epitome of masculinity" was actually rather gender-transgressive:
1. His real name was the gender-bending Marion.
2. Watch him walk.  He sashays like RuPaul.
3. He had small, delicate hands.
4. He was slim and svelte, nothing like a muscleman.
5. He got his start as a "Sandy Saunders, the Singing Cowboy."
6. In His Private Secretary (1933), his character is a feminine-coded bon vivant who wants to marry a minister's granddaughter, but he's too "debauched."

And he had his share of gay subtexts, surly, taciturn guys with no particular interest in ladies who buddy-bond with the hunkiest star du jour that studios could cram into a cowboy suit.  Just to name a few:

1. The Searchers (1956).  Ethan (John Wayne), who has no particular interest in ladies, buddy-bonds with Martin (screen hunk Jeffrey Hunter) en route to saving a girl from savage Indians.

2. Rio Bravo (1959).  Sheriff John T. Chance (John Wayne) teams up with Colorado Ryan (contemporary teen idol Ricky Nelson).

3. The Comancheros (1961). Texas ranger Jake Cutter (John Wayne) arrests Paul Regret (screen hunk Stuart Whitman), but then needs his help to fight the Comancheros.




4. The Undefeated (1969): former Union and Confederate officers (John Wayne, screen hunk Rock Hudson) must work together to guide a group through war-torn Mexico.

The Duke was notoriously homophobic, even in the days when homophobia was rampant, though he and Rock Hudson managed to work together on the set of The Undefeated.

And racist: in an infamous Playboy interview in 1971, he stated that he believed in white supremacy until "the blacks are educated to the point of responsibility."

Why was he trying so hard to maintain white heterosexual male privilege?  Was it that big a problem for him to share the world with people who were gay, or black, or female?

Sounds like a sissy to me.