A resurfaced interview of John Wayne, in which the late movie star said he "believes in white supremacy" and called Native Americans "selfish," has gone viral on Twitter, prompting discussion about how to best examine offensive public statements made in past generations.
Screenwriter Matt Williams tweeted a series of quotes by the iconic actor after reading the Playboy interview, which ran in May 1971: "John Wayne was a straight up piece of s--t," he wrote. The tweet quickly racked up more than 21,000 favorites and thousands of comments.
In one excerpt, Wayne says that there's "quite a bit of resentment" among "blacks," musing, "But we can't all of a sudden get down on our knees and turn everything over to the leadership of the blacks. I believe in white supremacy until the blacks are educated to a point of responsibility."
On the subject of Native Americans, Wayne spoke just as candidly: "I don't feel we did wrong in taking this great country away from them," he said, later asserting that they should buy the land back if they still want it. "I think we ought to make a deal with the Indians. They should pay as much for Alcatraz as we paid them for Manhattan. I hope they haven't been careless with their wampum."
"I don't know why the government should give them something that it wouldn't give me," he added in reference to reparations.
John Wayne through his career
John Wayne through his career
American actor John Wayne on the set of They Were Expendable, directed and produced by John Ford. (Photo by Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images)
American actor John Wayne (Photo by Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images)
Vera Ralston And John Wayne publicity portrait from the film 'Dakota', 1945. (Photo by Republic/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JANUARY 02: American actors John WAYNE and Claudette COLBERT in a scene of the film WITHOUT RESERVATIONS directed by Mervyn LE ROY in 1946. (Photo by Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images)
(Original Caption) 3/6/1947-Hollywood, CA-: A minature chess board helps John Wayne while away moments between scenes of a new motion picture, 'Tycoon.' The interested spectator over his left shoulder is Laraine Day, his leading lady in the action film. For her role in the picture, her hair was darkened from blonde. For both of these stars this film is the most dangerous one in which they have yet worked. Explosions for building a railway make many of the scenes an insurance headache.
1947: John Wayne (1907 - 1979) as Quirt Evans with Gail Russell (1924 - 1961) as Quaker girl Penelope Worth in a scene from the film 'Angel and the Badman', directed by James Edward Grant. (Photo via John Kobal Foundation/Getty Images)
circa 1939: American film star John Wayne (1907 - 1979), born Marion Morrison, who repeatedly played the archetypal western hero. His films include 'Stagecoach' (1939), 'She Wore a Yellow Ribbon' (1949), and 'True Grit' for which he won an Oscar in 1969. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)
Actor John Wayne as Marine Sgt. platoon ldr. in scene fr. the movie Sands of Iwo Jima. (Photo by Ed Clark/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
American actor John Wayne on the set of Sands of Iwo Jima, directed by Allan Dwan. (Photo by Republic Pictures/Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images)
American actors Adele Mara and John Wayne American actor John Wayne on the set of Sands of Iwo Jima, directed by Allan Dwan. (Photo by Republic Pictures/Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images)
Portrait of American actor John Wayne (1907 - 1979) as he poses outdoors, 1950s or 1960s. (Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)
American actor John Wayne (1907 - 1979), in costume, shows a young boy his pistol at an unspecified event, 1950s or 1960s. (Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)
American actors John Wayne as Colonel John Marlowe and Constance Towers as Hannah Hunter in the American Civil War film 'The Horse Soldiers', 1959. (Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)
American actor John Wayne on the set of Rio Bravo, directed and produced by Howard Hawks. (Photo by Warner Bros. Pictures/Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images)
American actors John Wayne and Constance Towers on the set of The Horse Soldiers, directed by John Ford. (Photo by Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images)
John Wayne arriving at Heathrow Airport for his first visit to England. (Photo by PA Images via Getty Images)
Arrives from Honolulu, 7 June 1952. John Wayne, actor.;Supplementary material reads: 'From: Warner Bros. Studio, Burbank, California HO 9-1251. Bill Rice. John Wayne, the motion picture industry's number one box office star, arrived at International airport yesterday from Honolulu, enthusiastic over a pioneering film venture in the Hawaiian Islands. With his production associate Robert Fellows, Wayne made the feature picture, 'Big Jim McLain' in the Islands for Warner Bros. The Hollywood cast, which Wayne headed in the starring role, was augmented by many prominent Hawaiians, among them Honolulu Police Chief Dan Liu and Honolulu Sheriff Duke Kahanamoku. 'In Honolulu we were told this was the first modern picture story ever filmed in the Islands', said Wayne. 'Hawaiians are accustomed to having their Islands used as location sites for South Seas costume films, but it was a new experience to have them pictured as they are today. We filmed our story in actual settings, taking full advantage of the magnificent scenery that has made Hawaii a vacation paradise'.. (Photo by Los Angeles Examiner/USC Libraries/Corbis via Getty Images)
(Original Caption) Movie star John Wayne and his bride, Peruvian actress Pilar Palette, are showered with rice as they arrived in Los Angeles from Hawaii, where they were wed. Friends who greeted the newlyweds at the airport did so with cheers and the traditional wedding rice.
(Original Caption) 11/2/1954-Kalua, HI-: Film hero John Wayne embraces his bride, Pilar Palette after the ceremony in the former home of King Kamehameha III Nov. 1. The 46-year-old star and his 21-year-old Peruvian bride were wed a few hours after his divorce from Esperanza Bauer became final. Some 150 persons, including members of the cast and crew of the picture 'The Sea Chase,' on which he has been working, attended the brief ceremony and reception. Wayne said 'I've had a lot of wonderful things happen, but this is the best.'
LOS ANGELES - SEPTEMBER 26: John Wayne smokes a cigarette at a party for Milton Berle on September 26 1955 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
Portrait of American actor John Wayne (1907 - 1979), dressed in a suit and hat, hands in his pockets, as leans against a low wall, 1950s. (Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)
American actor John Wayne on the set of The Searchers, direced by John Ford. (Photo by Warner Bros. Pictures/Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images)
American actor John Wayne 91907 - 1979) and Italian actress Sophia Loren at Ciampino Airport returning from a trip from Africa where they went for the shooting of the movie 'Timbuctù', Rome, 1957. (Photo by Archivio Cicconi/Getty Images)
(Eingeschränkte Rechte für bestimmte redaktionelle Kunden in Deutschland. Limited rights for specific editorial clients in Germany.) Loren, Sophia *20.09.1934- Schauspielerin, Italien(eigentl. Sofia Scicolone)- Liebesszene mit John Wayne in dem Film 'Stadt der Verlorenen' (Legend of the Lost), Regie: Henry Hathaway, Panama/Italien - 1957 (Photo by ullstein bild/ullstein bild via Getty Images)
AUG 5 1960, AUG 8 1960, APR 12 1970 John Wayne A student of faith. Credit: Denver Post (Denver Post via Getty Images)
American actor John Wayne (Marion Mitchell Morrison) acting in Cast a Giant Shadow. 1966 (Photo by Mondadori Portfolio by Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - JUNE: John Wayne attends the premiere of 'Hatari!' in June 1962 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
(Eingeschränkte Rechte für bestimmte redaktionelle Kunden in Deutschland. Limited rights for specific editorial clients in Germany.) *26.05.1907-11.06.1979+Schauspieler Film USAals Oberleutnant der US - Fallschirmjägerin dem Film 'Der längste Tag'- 1962 (Photo by ullstein bild/ullstein bild via Getty Images)
Actors Claudia Cardinale and John Wayne are featured in the Wild West show of the Matt Masters Circus, in a scene from the film 'Circus World', Spain, December 10th 1963. (Photo by Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
JOHN WAYNE: On this day in 1931 John Wayne was dropped by Fox Film Studios. Film-actor John Wayne. John Wayne is back at war with the Indians. The battleground this time is a road stretching 30 miles through the desert south of Phoenix, Arizona in the USA which the county wants to name after the actor who owned a ranch on a section of Highway 347 until his death in 1979. But Indian leaders will not agree. Upset by the portrayal of American Indians in Wayne's films as less than civilised and aware that even in reality, Wayne was no great friend, having made racist comments in an infamous interview in Playboy interview in 1971, they do not want him associated with their reservation. PA Photo. See PA story US Wayne. **Available black and white only.** (Photo by PA Images via Getty Images)
American actor John Wayne stands by the street sign honouring his name in Prescott, Arizona. (Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)
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Wayne also dismissed criticism of low employment of black people in Hollywood, saying he's done his fair share to rectify the issue. "I've directed two pictures and I gave blacks their proper position. I had a black slave in 'The Alamo,' and I had a number of blacks in 'The Green Berets,'" he said. "I think the Hollywood studios are carrying their tokenism a little too far."
Many of Wayne's anger is directed at the generation under him. Somewhat amusingly, already in his late 60s at the time of the interview, Wayne blasted the "youths" who, today, are now in their 60s and 70s themselves: "The American public is getting sick and tired of what these young people are doing," he said.
In addition to African-Americans, Native Americans and young people, Wayne took issue with liberals, the news media and critics of the Vietnam War. While many of his statements are blatantly dated, others are relatively reflective of the current political landscape more than four decades later.
The full-length interview, which you can read in its entirety here, is no doubt eye-opening. While some are coming to the defense of the late actor, who died in 1979, others are less sympathetic.
"You start reading 40-50 year old interviews and you’re not going to like what a lot of famous people said about society." one reader said. In response, another pointed out, "The interviewer was clearly not liking it at the time, so maybe it's not a matter of decade but basic human decency."
Wayne starred in more than 170 films between 1926 and 1977, bringing more people to the box office than any other actor besides Clark Gable.
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