« Easy Riders - Martine Schroeder | Main | Easy Rider by H.Getachew »

Easy Rider

By Elizabeth Bassett

The 1960’s were a time of political upheaval throughout the American nation. Throughout this period, the hippie counterculture was marked by the ideas of love, anti-materialism, hedonism, and environmental awareness. Easy Rider, a film released in 1969, vividly portrayed these hippie ideals as it followed Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, and Jack Nicholson on their trek from Los Angeles to the Mardi Gras celebration in New Orleans.
Looking back at the 1960’s, love was one of the primary ideals ringing through the air. This strong ideal of love is also reflected in Easy Rider. Throughout their journey, Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, and Jack Nicholson portray a strong bond of friendship that exemplifies love for each other. They are willing to stick by each other and support each other’s ideals through trials and rough times along their journey. This is evidenced when they are refused service at a restaurant due to their unkempt appearance and the owner’s disagreement with their lifestyle choice. Together, they leave the restaurant, not only as friends, but also as brothers. Meeting new friends along the way and their openness with them is another important aspect of the hippie movement clearly evident in Easy Rider. Free love was another strong hippie ideal that was evidenced in the film when prostitutes came into the picture at the end of the movie.
Anti-materialism also strongly resonated throughout Easy Rider. Traveling cross-country on motorcycles and sleeping in parks or roadsides along the way, the physical appearance of these men was anything but clean as they would not rent hotel rooms due to the expense. None of them held a steady job thereby indicating their unconcern for monetary possessions and comforts that a long-term occupation would allow. At times in their journey, they would stop at houses in hopes of a free meal. One of the most vivid portrayals of anti-materialism exhibited in the movie was when looking in the wallet of a crashed motorist and exclaiming that their “wasn’t much in there, just money.?
Exhibited through their easy-going lifestyles and spur of the moment travels to New Orleans in Easy Rider, hedonism was another signature mark of the hippie movement. Focusing on individual pleasures and whatever works best for the person attitude, Fonder, Hopper, and Nicholson were unconcerned about the rest of society and its implications upon them. Their goal was simply to go-with-the-flow and enjoy life as evidenced by the lack of organization on their trip.
One of the strongest hippie themes exhibited in the movie was of environmental awareness. Living in harmony with the land and tilling the soil with your own hands was strongly encouraged. This was evidenced upon the praises of the community of farmers living off of the land.
Overall, the simplicity of the dialogue of the movie, allowed for greater clarity in revealing the overriding themes of the hippie movement portrayed throughout the journey from Los Angeles to New Orleans.