Whatever happened to Randolph Scott? The Statler Brothers posed this question in their hit song by the same title. Unsurprisingly, America failed to take the question seriously. Fortunately for us, the question remains enshrined in the Statlers’s music.
Randolph Scott was the epitome of masculinity and white male identity during his time. He acted or otherwise performed in nearly every genre of movie that was being produced at the time. More than anything else he is remembered as a western movie hero.
Randolph Scott was before my time, but whatever happened to him didn’t happen to just the entertainment industry alone. That’s where the Statlers missed a beat.
The Statlers released their hit song in 1973. This was right in the middle of a series of watershed moments for Liberalism and counter-culture movements. The music and movie industries would have been the first place that these changes would be seen, but the causes for the symptoms happened years earlier.
The gay liberation movement started picking up steam in the early 60s. This was characterized by a heretofore unseen and radical expression of homosexual identity that was previously taboo. Sodomy and homosexual relations were criminal offenses in 1963, but judging by recent Supreme Court rulings on same-sex marriages you can see how seriously those laws were taken between then and now. The feminist movement seemed to be following the gay movement, and the two working in tandem were a severe challenge against then-normal conceptions of male identity. Second Wave Feminism broke in the early 60s and was one of the earliest instances of women demanding a more equal equality. This was the wave of feminism that culminated in Roe v. Wade by which the Supreme Court said that women were permitted to have abortions on demand.
The Greatest Generation lost control of media to the Baby Boomers, but this was only bound to happen. The Baby Boomers are, among other things, the first generation to have a better quality of life than their parents (and their own children). The Vietnam draft didn’t start until the late 60s, so the Baby Boomer generation was, up to that point, raised during a time of peace. Neither did the Baby Boomers live during the Great Depression. This was an entire generation that turned decadent while lazing in the shade of their parents’s security. It’s no wonder that the Boomers were less conservative than their parents, they had no incentive, reason or justification for doing so.
The long-standing Movie Picture Production Code was also discontinued in 1968. The MPPC was informally known as the Hays Code after Will H. Hays who was president of the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America from 1922-45. The Hays Code was eventually put away with after an intervention by the Supreme Court. The Movie Production Association of America film rating system replaced the Hays Code, and this is where the G, PG, R and X ratings were introduced. The Statlers specifically mentioned this in their song, remarking that “you gotta take your analyst along to see if it’s fit to see..”
The number two movie in 1968 was Barbarella. IMDB describes Barbarella as a story in which “a highly sexual woman is assigned with finding and stopping the evil Durand-Durand. Along the way, she encounters various unusual people.” The number three movie in 1968 was Planet of the Apes. IMDB describes its story as one in which “an astronaut crew crash lands on a planet in the distant future where intelligent talking apes are the dominant species, and humans are the oppressed and enslaved.” The two major selling points of Barbarella and Planet of the Apes were licentious or suggestive nudity and white slavery, both of which were explicitly forbidden under the Hays Code. For all the movie buffs out there, 2001: A Space Odyssey was number one, but I dare say there was some serious artistic expression happening there. I don’t believe that these problems could have been avoided had the Supreme Court affirmed the Hays Code, but that’s an aside. The point is that a paradigm shift in Hollywood movie-making had occurred.
Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 also fundamentally changed the stock from which new immigrants were accepted. Between 1921 and 1965 American immigration policy was designed to maintain ethnic identity. There were quotas for who could immigrate to America. The 1965 act started selecting immigrants based on skills and family relations. America is also one of the few countries that still permits chain migration for non-nuclear family members. You can see how this very quickly gets away from selecting immigrants of any national origin based on skills alone. What this did accomplish was a rapid and drastic drop in the number of white immigrants from Western European countries.
A stark and fundamental change in American identity and culture happened in less than 20 years, and the then-traditional understanding of what was masculine was dumped in favor of something more cosmopolitan and liberal. Conservative and traditional conceptions of masculinity and sexuality were not abandoned, they were burned to the ground. Not even the Duke was immune to this change. John Wayne’s acting career was all but wrapped up and finished by the time that the Statlers released Randolph Scott. Wayne’s 1956 The Searchers made it clear in no uncertain terms that the hyper-masculine male identity that men of all ages to that point had known was not welcome or accepted in Modern society.
Inside a period of 20 years the entire movie, entertainment and lifestyle industry became fundamentally hostile towards heterosexual white males. The US Supreme Court takes much blame for this, and their recent ruling on same-sex marriage only affirms that SCOTUS will always let down America when it really matters. However, the SCOTUS can’t rule on a matter until it is brought to them. If there’s anyone who we should be blaming, it’s the organized and well-financed Jewish lobby. That’s what happened to Randolph Scott. The Statlers didn’t know what happened. America didn’t know what happened. They all felt it and they all could see it happening, but none could put their finger on it. That sense of creeping calamity and betrayal somehow managed to work itself out through a remaining vestige conservative culture, but by the time it was too late.