Outdoor Writers Association of America
Northwest Outdoor Writers Association
This Week's View

by Deanna Lee Birkholm

May 24th, 1999

John Wayne and Fly Fishing

Castwell and I sat watching one of the "Western Wednesday" movies on TV the other night, and I wondered why a television network would devote a whole day to mostly old western films. Castwell has his favorite, anything with John Wayne. There is a cult of sorts who collect the old John Wayne films. And perhaps the reason for the popularity of those films is more than you might think.

Every generation in every culture has its morality plays. The battle between good and evil, the stories where the bad guys get theirs, and the lesson is plain. Good prevails, evil loses, and the consequences for bad and evil are jail, death, and eternal damnation. The Greeks and Romans had theirs, Shakespear wrote them, the early melodramas in this country are all examples of morality plays.

American (and some spaghetti westerns produced in Italy) had the guys in the white hats winners for the sake of good. Oh the story had different characters and situations but the basic plot remained. There ARE consequences for being bad, and doing bad things.

Somewhere along the line in our "politically correct" world, it has become "improper" to judge anyone else's behavior, motives, morals, courtesy, speech, or manner of dress. Our schools are a mess, the last couple of generations growing up in this country at least, are adrift.

The word is more gun control will solve everything. Not. Or better parenting. Fat chance. Many of the parents now screaming for help are the same people who dumped their parents values in favor of free love, sex and drugs. We certainly can see what the result of being non- judgemental has produced. It's not the kids fault, its not the schools fault, its not the parents fault. It's no one's fault! Since no one is responsible, we certainly can't expect someone it fix it!

This all makes me wonder what the morality plays of today are. You might let that one run around in your head a bit. And while you are working on that one, who are the heros?

There has been a lot of speculation of what happened to the so called "yuppies" who came to fly fishing after the movie, A River Runs Through It. Perhaps most of them found other interests where the consequences were not a direct result of their actions. Such as consuming cigars and fine wines. That's a no brainer. You pay your money, and you have instant gratification.

Would it surprise you to know John Wayne was a fly fisherman? He was also a sailor, horseman, and had a interest in fine art and music. He also was reported to have drunk too much on occasion and been a smoker. Well, nobody is perfect.

The John Wayne film hero, won the battle, stood for good and righteous, and usually got the girl too. The characters he played were judgmental. In real life he understood the consequences of his actions too.

I suspect as fly fishers we have difficulty with the 'nobody is responsible' attitude. We know the consequences of choice. Fly fishing can be a tough. Success happens through practice, observation, intelligent thought, and tenacity. Probably a little dedication in there too. Each of us who fish know we make the decision of where to fish, when to fish, and with what as the best judgement we have at that moment. We make a judgement call. We make it each and every time we cast a line.

I have often stated that fly fishing isn't a hobby or sport. It is a way of life. One hopefully we share with our family and friends. To be frank, fly fishing may be the only exposure to consequence for your own actions some people ever have! Much more, the only success from their own actions as well! It just might set an example.

For me, fly fishing remains the pursuit of happiness. I reserve the right to be judgmental - and not just in my fishing. It's time for real hero's, not the phonies. It's time for everyone to recognize we are each totally responsible for our actions - and the consequences. And not be afraid of saying so.

John Wayne

Remember, "politically correct" is a "political" term. The reason for it is to make someone in the society feel good. It has nothing to do with fact! You can tell a lie forever, it doesn't make it the truth!

John Wayne, wish you were here. We sure need some guys in white hats! ~ LadyFisher

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