The Dark Side Of John Wayne

John Wayne is an iconic American. He's rough, he's tough, and he makes guns go "pew-pew" in a manly, American fashion. Wayne is the type of cowboy that rural folks wish they were and that our grandparents romanticized. The actor starred in over 90 films during his career, many of which were westerns, and there isn't a household in the country that hasn't seen a single one of his films. Well, there might be, but they probably aren't reading this article.

Off-screen, John Wayne was a conservative idol as well. He used his western drawl to endorse and campaign for right-wing political candidates, which — no — isn't the dark side we're talking about.

The actor's dark side stayed fairly hidden from the general public for a long time until a Playboy interview from 1971 resurfaced in 2019 thanks to the wonderful power of the internet. In the interview, Wayne lays out a side of him that many didn't know existed. A dark side that's as deeply rooted in American culture as apple pie.

John Wayne was pretty racist

In the Playboy interview, Wayne gives the world a look into a darker version of himself that most of us didn't know plagued Rooster's thoughts. The gun-slinging, American hero was ... wait for it ... a racist. Within the interview, Wayne blatantly says, "I believe in white supremacy." As if that wasn't bad enough, he goes on to say, "We can't all of a sudden get down on our knees and turn everything over to the leadership of the blacks." Now, it's acceptable within modern society to call Black people Black, but good ol' John Wayne calls them "the blacks" through the entire interview. If you're even slightly more woke than your senile great grandfather, you know the difference between the terms. Wayne also states that we shouldn't see Black people in positions of leadership and call slavery "a fact of life."

Black people weren't the only people of color that Wayne seemed to be against. Basically, it was anyone who wasn't white. He expressed his dislike for Indigenous Americans as well, saying in the interview that they were "selfishly" trying to keep the land from colonizers and explaining that he didn't feel bad about white people stealing it. Which is a crappy thing to say about a people whose existence made many of his films possible in the first place.

The Duke was a homophobe

You could try to make the argument that homophobia was simply a symptom of the times, but wrong is wrong regardless of in what year it takes place, and John Wayne was fairly homophobic. How do we know? That same Playboy interview revealed a lot of things about the Duke.

Wayne talks about which films he considers "perverted," naming Easy Rider and Midnight Cowboy. When asked to elaborate on why these two films were "perverted" in his eyes, he says the love between the two men in Easy Rider qualifies because it's a story about two f*** ... a word we aren't going to say here, but you get the idea. He goes on to tell Playboy that he's happy about sex existing as long as it's between a man and a woman.

In the Duke's own words, he tells Playboy which boxes he checks in terms of his "dark side," and even for someone who plays a drunk cowboy shooting at American Indians, it's pretty dark.