Movie star John Wayne had strong feelings regarding the Vietnam War. Some actors steered clear of making their political beliefs public to avoid alienating moviegoing audiences. However, Wayne and Oscar-winner Jane Fonda stood up for what they thought was right. The Western actor criticized Fonda and her husband, who she called an “idiot,” for their criticisms of the Vietnam War.
John Wayne rallied his support for the Vietnam War
Wayne became synonymous with the image of nationalism within America. He’s frequently criticized for not serving during World War II during the draft, which many of his peers did. This forever put a stain on his hero image, which he then felt that he needed to rectify. As a result, Wayne thought that he served in another way with the feature films that he made that boosted the image of the U.S. military and its citizens.
The Western star went to Vietnam in person during the summer of 1966 to visit the troops, further amplifying his message. Additionally, Wayne wanted to further vocalize his support of the Vietnam War by bringing some positive morale to the folks stationed there. Nevertheless, he knew that the majority of Hollywood was against the war.
John Wayne shamed Jane Fonda and her husband for protesting
According to Scott Eyman’s John Wayne: The Life and Legend, Hollywood’s perception of the Vietnam War increasingly frustrated him. Fonda was a political activist, feverishly vocalizing against the war, which later extended to the Iraq War and other movements that she believed in. However, Wayne had some vicious words aimed at Fonda and her activist husband, Tom Hayden.
“I would think somebody like Jane Fonda and her idiot husband would be terribly ashamed and saddened that they were a part of causing us to stop helping the South Vietnamese,” Wayne said. “Now look what’s happening. They’re getting killed by the millions. Murdered by the millions. How the hell can she and her husband sleep at night?”
Fonda held firm on her views against the Vietnam War, but she later expressed regret in a 60 Minutes interview for the photograph of her sitting on an anti-aircraft gun, calling it a “betrayal of American forces.”
John Wayne made ‘The Green Berets’ as Vietnam War propaganda
Wayne did more than speak on the Vietnam War, as he infused it into his filmmaking career. He starred in 1968’s The Green Berets, which he also directed. He starred as Col. Mike Kirby, who selects two teams of Green Berets for a specialized mission in South Vietnam. The first one is to control a camp that the enemy is trying to take, while the second is to kidnap a North Vietnamese General.
The Green Berets did well at the box office, but it had its fair share of critics. Film critic Roger Ebert was among those who hated the film and included it in his “most hated” movies. The film acted as a piece of Vietnam War propaganda that turned some viewers off from it.