Reflections on Easy Rider
There was a great deal of symbolism in the movie Easy Rider, in which I found to be somewhat confusing. There was confusion because Miller explains counterculture as not just another subculture, but rather as â€œDisloyal Opposition to Establishment cultureâ€? (103). As in, counterculture is not just a smaller group within a larger, dominant culture; counterculture is the opposition and resistance of the â€˜dominantâ€™ culture. The counterculture consisted of the hippies that did not want to function as part of the American machine and decided rather to just â€˜drop outâ€™ of American society proper. At the beginning of the film, Wyatt explains that he and Billy are just â€œliving off the landâ€? and â€œdoing their own thing at their own time.â€? Therefore, it was confusing to think that Wyatt was a part of this counterculture with the mentality of â€˜going against the American machine,â€™ however he was the most patriotic-looking hippie I have ever seen! His motorcycle, helmet and leather jacket all contained the image of the American flag. I was confused about this at first, but then I realized that it seemed so overdone and gaudy that it was basically mocking the American way.
There was symbolism in the beginning of the film when Wyatt was shoving all the money he and Billy had made into the small hole of his gas tank, which was brightly painted red, white and blue. This again seemed to mock the American machine in that this is exactly how it functions â€“ American people are worked like animals, only to have their earnings shoved back into the government.
Another symbolic and poignant part of the film was the ending. It was clear that hippies living the lifestyle of the counterculture were not accepted by the typical working class American. At the end, two rednecks were driving in their pick-up and spotted the two hippies riding along, and one told the other to watch as he â€œscares the crapâ€? out of one of these hippies. His attempt to scare Billy failed, as Billyâ€™s only reaction was to give him the bird, which motivated the redneck to shoot him. Ironically, Wyatt stopped to cover his friend with his leather jacket (the American flag). Wyatt then continues after the rednecks and ends up killed in the same manner. The irony here lies in the shot to the gas tank of the American flag, which held all of their monetary earnings.