The University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts has decided to remove an exhibit of iconic Western movie star John Wayne amid claims the actor represents “white supremacy.”
The Hollywood Reporter reports the removal was confirmed by the school on Friday after students and alumni made complaints.
“Conversations about systemic racism in our cultural institutions along with the recent global, civil uprising by the Black Lives Matter Movement require that we consider the role our School can play as a change-maker in promoting antiracist cultural values and experiences,” assistant dean of diversity and inclusion Evan Hughes said. “Therefore, it has been decided that the Wayne Exhibit will be removed.”
The exhibit of Wayne, who attended the school in the 1920s, was created in 2012 but students started complaining about the use of his imagery last year when disparaging comments he previously made resurfaced.
“By keeping Wayne’s legacy alive, SCA is endorsing white supremacy,” students said at the time, according to the report.
In response to the earlier complaints, the school said they would be keeping the exhibit. They would, however, create a separate space to showcase Indigenous filmmaking, feminism, and critical race theory to off-set any perceived offense.
Excuse me? How does this endorse white supremacy?
— Radiant Katie (@RadiantKatie) July 11, 2020
According to the report, the students and alumni are complaining about a number of controversial remarks Wayne made.
From the report:
Criticism and protests over the actor were prompted after comments Wayne made in a Playboy interview resurfaced, in which he made bigoted statements against Black people, Native Americans and the LGBTQ community.
“I believe in white supremacy until the blacks are educated to a point of responsibility. I don’t believe in giving authority and positions of leadership and judgment to irresponsible people,” Wayne said in the interview.
On the historic mistreatment of Indigenous Americans in the U.S., Wayne said “I don’t feel we did wrong in taking this great country away from them. There were great numbers of people who needed new land, and the Indians were selfishly trying to keep it for themselves.”
The actor also used a gay slur to describe the characters in Midnight Cowboy in the interview, and noted that while he didn’t condone slavery, “I don’t feel guilty about the fact that five or 10 generations ago these people were slaves.”
Announcement concerning the John Wayne exhibit: pic.twitter.com/8vg5tUUjCj
— USC Cinematic Arts (@USCCinema) July 10, 2020