An essay on National Public Radio today (text available here) tries to answer why John Wayne remains so popular in the United States.
A recent Harris poll revealed Wayne is the third most popular movie star in America today – even though he’s been dead for 32 years. The commentator argues, in so many words, that Wayne is a timeless American archetype. A Hero (with a capital “H”). He – or at least the characters he played -- were tough, independent, and proud. They stood up for what was right, regardless of the personal consequences.
We wonder how the John Wayne Hero archetype affects how people are feeling about the U.S. economy today? In the new study we've begun about how people feel about the economy, we’re already seeing lots of metaphors for powerlessness, loss of control, loss of dignity, and a sense that people who do the right thing have been played for suckers. Perhaps people unconsciously want to feel like John Wayne…but can’t?