The University of Southern California School of Motion Picture Arts has announced a decision to close an exhibition in 2012 dedicated to the legendary Hollywood actor John Wayne. To such a step, the administration of the educational institution was led by student protests related to the "racist" statements of the artist made in 1971 during an interview with Playboy magazine.

According to Variety, Wayne said in that publication that he believed in the superiority of the white race, and also released “derogatory” comments about black and Native Americans.

“I will believe in the superiority of the white race until the blacks are educated enough to show responsibility. I believe that it is impossible to trust the authorities and leadership positions, implying the adoption of important decisions, by irresponsible people, ”said the actor.

He also claimed that he did not feel guilty that “five or ten generations ago these people were slaves.” At the same time, Wayne emphasized that he does not justify slavery, but accepts it as a fact.

Discussions on Racism

University of California students began to speak out against the exhibition in the fall of 2019. In their opinion, if the leadership of the educational institution decides to leave the exhibition, then it automatically supports the position of the actor.

The school’s administration responded to protests in December. Management expanded the exhibition and provided more detailed information on the history of cinema in the American West. The stands were rethought through interactive exhibits dedicated to the cinema of Native Americans, feminism and critical racial theory, designed to engage exhibition visitors in the discussion.

However, the protests did not stop. As a result, the administration considered that the school would contribute to the fight against “racism” if it simply closed the exhibition.

“Discussions about systematic racism in our cultural institutions, as well as recent speeches by the Black Lives Matter movement around the world, require us to reflect on the transformative role that the school can play in strengthening anti-racism cultural values ​​and experiences. Therefore, it was decided to remove the exhibition dedicated to John Wayne, ”said Evan Hughes, deputy dean of the School of Art for Diversity and Inclusion.

Earlier, due to similar statements, the American Democrats of Orange County (California) also demanded to remove the name of John Wayne from the name of the local airport, which he has been carrying since 1979.

They emphasized that Orange has changed a lot over the past decades. Today, in their opinion, the removal of “racist symbols” is necessary for the recognition of “victims of oppression”.

Harley Sawyer and Little Britain

Western king John Wayne is far from the only artist whose long-standing statements have been sharply criticized in the light of recent events.

So, in early June, Internet users remembered the recordings that actor Harley Sawyer made on his Twitter eight years ago. After this, the artist was suspended from the role of superhero Ralph Dibney in the series Flash.

Accusations of “racism” have also affected several major projects.

In early June, HBO Max streaming service temporarily removed the 1939 cult film Gone With the Wind from its catalog. This happened after the publication of a column directed by John Ridley, who stated that the film broadcasts painful stereotypes about black people. Later, the film reappeared on the platform along with additional materials explaining the historical context. 

After that, for reasons of "political correctness" several more projects were removed from the catalogs of video services. Among them was the show "Little Britain", as well as several episodes of the series "Studio 30" and "Clinic." In all these projects, according to representatives of video platforms, offensive feelings of the African-American scene were discovered.

In June, the producers of the animated series The Simpsons announced that white actors would no longer be voicing colored characters in the cartoon. They came to this decision after criticizing Hank Azaria, who voiced the Indian Apu Nahasapimapetilon.

Actors Mike Henry ("Family Guy") and Kristen Bell ("Central Park") also decided to quit projects where they voiced black characters.