John Wayne (Marion Mitchell Morrison) was born this date in 1907.John Wayne, “The Duke” – ever the good guy, a hero. Or was he?
Despite his numerous military movies, Wayne never actually served in any branch. He did, however, serve as an inspiration in those roles. Always tough, brave, and just, John Wayne was the epitome of leadership and righteous courage.
Yet, Wayne was not perfect. No human is. He was married three times; divorced twice. While we never heard him cuss, beyond hell, damn, or the occasional s.o.b. that might be in a script, I’m sure our parents suspected he (and similar good guy actors) used more graphic, colorful language offscreen. But, we children never heard anything beyond that mild level of expletives. And most of us understood that was simply how “grownups” sometimes had to talk, to get their point across. We never even imagined those good men and women we watched on the big and small screens, ever used truly vulgar language. For one thing, until Generation X, most of us had never really heard much cursing, beyond those basics. The other thing: Until about the 1970s, George Carlin’s proverbial “Seven Dirty Words” were truly banned, not simply from movies, TV, and radio, but, from proper society, at large.
In those days, celebrities’ publicists and handlers kept most skeletons in the closet, and dirt swept under the rug, to protect their client’s image. Perhaps some of the statues had feet of clay. But, we still looked up to the image portrayed. Conversely, today, it seems celebrities strive for scandal and controversy – the more public their transgressions, the better.
While I am not specifically applauding deceit, I definitely favor more propriety. Even if our heroes of the past, were more manufactured images than true good guys, their public persona raised the bar of behavior for society- especially for their young, impressionable audiences.
Sadly, not only has the bar been lowered, I fear it may have dropped to a mere line in the sand, which is crossed more often than not. Those “seven dirty words” (and several more) have found their way into movies, prime time television – even some advertisements.
You can still teach your children standards of behavior in your home. Yet, it is increasingly difficult to overcome the outside influences exerted by peer pressure, the entertainment industry, and professional sports.
Sports – now, there is an entire arena where standards have plummeted. The apparent message professional sports conveys to young athletes is that anything goes – domestic violence, drug use/abuse – even cheating, is tolerated and accepted if you are a valuable enough player.
i don’t understand why the influential powers that be fail to recognize and remember that people need heroes. We want celebrated figures we can look up to, whose higher standards are something to which we can aspire. Overall, we long to believe that hard work, honesty, and integrity are the seeds of true success.
John Wayne’s image in probably every role he played was a “good guy.” That is why we’re still talking and writing about him, 108 years after he was born; 36 years after he died. It is also why we miss him, and all of the other good guys.
Now, for the proverbial “call to action:”
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