Thursday, March 12, 2009

What's cool about hippies?

Easy Rider (1969) is a movie about the counterculture movement of the 60s and the prejudice that still existed in the South. The road genre allows the film to depict the multitude of cultures that existed within the United States. The journey begins in California and ends in the Deep South. As Billy (Dennis Hopper) and Wyatt (Peter Fonda) embark on their quest for freedom, they are first met with hospitality at the farm and the commune. The further south they venture, the more difficulties they find. Eventually they are eventually murdered by the rednecks in a truck. The South is portrayed as a place fearful of progress and the unknown.

The film presents the counterculture movement very accurately because it was filmed during the time period that this movement was taking place. The movie is also interesting because the two main characters Billy and Wyatt portray different aspects of the movement. Billy fills the role of the stereotypical hippie. He smokes marijuana constantly, and is interested only in sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Considering that sex, drugs, and rock and roll are known as the trifecta of cool, you would think that Billy would be the cool character in the movie, but he’s not. Billy is not cool because he is constantly anxious, and never shuts his mouth. Billy’s incessant rambling and his haste make him very obnoxious.

Wyatt, on the other hand, is quiet and removed. I believe that Wyatt represents what is truly cool about the counterculture movement of the 60s. He represents the quest for truth, peace, and freedom. Wyatt does participate in the sex, drugs, and rock and roll, but that is not his purpose and goal. He is tempted to stay at the hippie commune because they are attempting to create a free and peaceful utopia that he is looking for, but he decides to continue onward with Billy to explore America. One of Wyatt’s most famous quotes is “You know Billy, we blew it.” Wyatt realizes that they failed from the beginning because they set out on an adventure that focused on the glory of money and drugs instead of peace. I think that Wyatt embodies the cool that existed in the counterculture of the 60s with his reflective and loving attitude.

1 comment:

  1. It seems like these two characters are each a side of the same coin. Do you think that there is any way to find a balance between these two ideas of cool?