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18 July 2009

God, Guns, Guts & American Pickup Trucks

In John Wayne’s (born Marion Robert Morrison) films there are three kinds of people: the hero (played by Wayne); the bad guys (that Wayne must kill); and the victim (which Wayne must save). There are only two options in situations like this: (1) surrender or (2) fight. Surrender was never an option for John Wayne’s character. Heroes don't negotiate a peace settlement either. They go in, guns blazing, horses snorting, dirt flying, and shoot the hell out of the bad guys. John Wayne's war movies glorified the ultimate sacrifice for one's country. His characters loved their country and loved God. They carried a big gun and would not hesitate to use it. The "good guys versus bad guys" model is a very simplistic view of the world which until recently seemed to served as the model for American foreign policy. While John Wayne's characters were usually successful in defeating the bad guys and saving the victims, it hasn't worked so well in the real world.
Instead of a rifle, the John Waynes in America today carry a 9mm or a military style assault rifle. Often they have several guns in their homes. They don't ride horses, but they do have a few hundred horses under the hood of their pickup trucks and a shotgun hanging in the rear window. They praise God on Sunday, sometimes taking their guns to Church with them, and talk of killing terrorists over Monday evening dinner. Some Americans are seriously afflicted with John Wayne Syndrome. Most of the Neocons (if not all) seem to suffer from John Wayne Syndrome. They see the world only in terms of good guys (us and our allies that agree with us) and the bad guys (everyone else). If the bad guys get out of line, well we just have to kick their butts right? That may have worked to a degree 50 years ago, but the world has changed. Resorting to military bullying and slaughter of civilians has left us in a precarious political position with most of the world. It is time that America matured and put the John Wayne hero myth on the shelf to gather dust with his films.

Perhaps most important of all was Wayne’s portrayal of genuinely American heroes. His entire work can be described as the glorification of the American hero and the perpetuation of American ideals. . . . In his best roles he epitomized the national virtues of rugged individualism and that pioneer heritage that right and justice must always triumph over evil. (Levy 109) The Jungian Society

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