John Wayne Thought ‘Disgusting’ Gore and Sex in Movies Would Kill Hollywood – ‘Perhaps We Have Run Out of Imagination’

Actor John Wayne had strong opinions about movies and the overall industry. However, the Hollywood machine continued to push past its family-friendly image to accommodate a wider array of entertainment that would bring in box office dollars. Wayne once explained why he thought “disgusting” gore and sex in movies would ultimately spell out the industry’s death.

John Wayne believed movies should be made for families

John Wayne, who starred in Western movies, wearing a cowboy costume and hat with a bottle in front of him while filming 'Rio Lobo'
John Wayne | Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty Images

Carolyn McGivern’s John Wayne: A Giant Shadow touched on the actor’s feelings towards movies. He had a very specific image of how Hollywood should target their movies. As a result, Wayne didn’t see the need for a rating system to inform parents what is safe for their children to see.

Wayne disliked what he referred to as “perverted films” but simultaneously hated the idea of censorship. Rather, he wanted Hollywood to enact their own censorship rather than outsourcing it to another party. Wayne believed that motion pictures allowing more adult content led to an increasing number of families staying home to watch television.

John Wayne thought ‘disgusting’ gore and sex would kill movies

McGivern pointed to how Wayne perceived adult content in movies. He wasn’t necessarily against sex in feature films, but he was against certain portrayals of it. Additionally, Wayne didn’t agree with male sexuality in movies and detested the amount of violence put onto the silver screen.

“Don’t get me wrong, I’m awfully happy there’s a thing called sex,” Wayne said. “I see no reason why it shouldn’t be in pictures. Healthy, lusty sex is wonderful, but when you get hairy sweaty bodies in the foreground, it becomes distasteful. I can remember seeing pictures in the thirties that were wonderfully risqué. They were done with intimation.”

Wayne talked about movies in the way of business and how the bankers would respond to what brings in money. However, the actor believed that this destroyed the “illusion” that the whole industry was founded on.

Wayne continued: “When you think of the wonderful picture fare we’ve had through the years and then realize we’ve come to this s***, it’s disgusting. If they want to continue making these films, fine, but my career will have ended. I feel the business is going to fade out from its own vulgarity. When the curious go to see gore and violence they make the bankers think that is what the public want. They seem to forget the one basic principle of our business … illusion. We’re in the business of magic. Perhaps we have run out of imagination.”

The actor didn’t allow writers to put words in his mouth when it came to America


John Wayne Hated the Idea of a Movie Rating System

Major Hollywood actors, such as Clark Gable, presented preprepared speeches on behalf of the Alliance. However, Wayne saw this as an entirely different experience than in his movies. As a result, he refused ever to allow a writer to put words in his mouth when it came to talking about the Alliance against the Communists. “I am not in the Alliance as an actor but as an American,” Wayne said.

The actor knew that he was putting his thoughts as an American ahead of his career as an actor, once again rejecting censorship. McGivern explained that his career would benefit from simply reading the prewritten speeches but preferred to defend those he believed to be unfairly treated. As a result, Wayne believed that any American had the right to be a Communist just as much as anyone had the right to be a Democrat or a Republican. However, the actor refused any attempts to undermine the American way of life.