Easy Rider commentary by Jenna Johnson
Counterculture is an interesting thing to grasp, but I think that â€œEasy Riderâ€? succeeded in portraying all of the hippie ideals of counterculture that Miller outlines. Especially present were the desire to â€œdrop outâ€? of established society (illustrated by the entire on-the-road and spontaneous lifestyle of Wyatt and Billy), the political implications of this lifestyle (shown in the scenes where Wyatt, Billy, and George enter the cafÃ© and are the subjects of universal criticism, and also the ending of the film where Wyatt and Billy are ruthlessly killed), environmental awareness (shown by Wyatt and Billy living off the land within the hippie commune they are taken to by the hitchhiker), anti-materialism (Wyatt throws off his wristwatch in the beginning of the journey, and the pair wear almost all the same clothes throughout their journey), and love (of course at the hippie commune, indicated by conversations amongst the members there). Costello described this film as â€œa warning that the values of the counterculture were becoming indistinguishable from the values of the mainstream,â€? which is indeed evident in the film, but I can also see how, as Costello goes on, members of the counterculture purposely blinded themselves from this warning. Becoming so defiant against mainstream society gave them such a feeling of power and individuality that it was hard to accept that their hippie ideals would eventually die out.
Also, Costello discusses the Woodstock film as having virtually no easy to follow dialogue, and I do think that â€œEasy Riderâ€? compares to this quite a bit. As we learned in class, much of the lines in â€œEasy Riderâ€? were improvised, and as we saw in â€œWoodstock,â€? the entire thing was impromptu. Costello says of â€œWoodstock,â€? â€œThe motion picture is the art form of the young precisely because it can do what â€˜Woodstockâ€™ did: exploiting sights and sounds to a hyperrealism, it can create mythâ€?. In the case of both â€œWoodstockâ€? and â€œEasy Rider,â€? this myth was the belief that there would exist a strong foundation of the counterculture in our society. Recall that we saw and heard many of the same ideals among the Woodstock crowd. In the case of â€œEasy Riderâ€? in particular, this â€œmythâ€? created was also in a sense the â€œmythâ€? of the American Dream for Wyatt and Billy. We see them accomplishing anything and everything of their choosing, when in the end, Wyatt describes that they â€œblew it,â€? probably due to their misfortunes and bad tidings all along the way.