Thursday, March 12, 2009

Fight Freedom with Fear

Easy Rider is a movie that captured what was happening in America in the late sixties. "It was the best of times and it was the worst of times," Dickens would say. The youth of America were questioning the world they were coming into. Drugs in America were on the rise and it was allowing people to escape to an alternate reality. The youth wanted something more and sex, drugs and Rock and Roll was the answer. With such bands as Bob Dylan and The Grateful Dead coming around youth wanted more from life and politics. People saw injustice and also a problem with traditional life. All of these ideas were culminating when Easy Rider came out. The movie was able to capture all that was occurring at the time and pack it into the movie.

At the beginning of the film the Wyatt and Billy are buying, transporting and selling cocaine. They are beating the capitalist society at its own game. To them it is just a means to an end, the quick way of making their dreams come true. The drug deals went well and they receive an enormous sum of cash and they are then free to go find America.The first place they come to is a small farm where a large mixed family was living off the land in a very traditional way. To them this is a sort of utopia. They are in a place of acceptance where some can live without having to rely on the main stream of society. They are in a sense what the commune wanted to be. The farm was a symbol of what some of the things they went looking for in America.

The next place they come to is commune. They are lead there by the hitch hiker they pick up on the road. He is quite the groovy individual. He is very smart and does not expect people to just do things for him. The commune is a place of acceptance and a collage of ideas. There are people reading Mao and another doing Ti Chi. The mime troop is suppose to be representative of the Diggers. They are the collage of what was coming out of San Francisco at this time.

After they leave the commune they come to a town were a parade is happening where they try to participate and get arrested. In the Jail they run into George. He is a Southern layer with a drinking problem. George decides to join up with them on their trip to New Orleans. He is my favorite character. George's view is the closest to the embodiment of what their trip was really about. They were the embodiment of freedom at this time. People were scared of what they represented. He warns them one night that if they are not careful that some one upon seeing this freedom may kill them because it causes people to question whether they are free. That same night George is killed by those very people.

After this point the movie starts to spiral down quickly. The peak of the movie I believe centered on George's speech. The everyday American Ideal at this time was that people were all free. People celebrated their freedom after the war. But when people that were the embodiment of change come threw it leads them to realize that they were only living a partial reality. It is no different today. If a person never escapes their own known reality by experiencing another culture or someone else’s form of reality they never really have a validation of their own reality. When people go through their entire life without having their way of life questioned as soon as it is they become frightened. They become cultural imperialist and xenophobes. This fear causes some atrocious things to happen. It lead to the end of the main characters and to their easy ridden.


  1. It always seemed to me that the counter-culture challenged the square reality in a very negative way. It did things that put a very angry fear into people and as such it got a huge backlash. Am I being silly with this feeling or do you think that they could have done something else to make people question without getting such a negative response?

  2. Do you think that if more "regular people" would have saw more places like the communes where people were producing their own food that they would not have looked so negatively at the counter culture?

  3. I think people would have been just as apprehensive to change. With the communist scare that happened and peoples had adverse reactions to change. No matter what type of counter culture people would have had a bad reaction to it.