Main

February 10, 2008

Almost a week late but I hope I didn't blow it.

After reading a few of my fellow students' postings I realized that both implicit and explicit meanings brought forth by Wyatt's prophetic claim. Yes, the fictionalized characters journey comes to a tragic end, and yes, their end can easily be understood as an allusion to the collapse of the optimism of the social rights movements of the 1960's.
While the film has received much recognition not just as great film, but as the archetype for the road film and been regarded in prophetic terms by Klinger as "[partaking in] apocalyptic,disaster-filled predictions of the future of the country" (193). At the same time the film's legacy, cultural resonance, and arguable legitimacy is constantly subverted by the its signifiers being used in an entirely different context from whence they were originally used. For all the counter cultural ideas the film attempts to espouse, they become diluted when one thinks of how many songs on the soundtrack are now used to sell automobiles, motorcycles, and other consumer products.

Continue reading "Almost a week late but I hope I didn't blow it." »

February 6, 2008

easy rider

"In examining Easy Rider’s treatment of the road and the landscape, we can see that there is no single “smooth? message offered by the film about uts times. Easy rider is a quintessential example of a film caught between to languages." (Klinger 11).

As I was watching the film, I felt like the phrase: "We blew it" described or represented a couple different ideas. Through out the film I noticed many shots of graves or graveyards, far too many to count. I believe that this represented the phrase "we blew it". It means we’re finished; it is done. Death is the final stage. All our drug use and counter culture brought us to death physical, emotional, and mentally. I felt like this film was a “lesson? for those who participated in the same activities as Wyatt and Bill. I didn’t feel like it encouraged participation in counterculture but discouraged through the imagery of death and "we blew it".

One the other hand it was a clear rally call around the hardships of the counter culture. That if you choose to participate in it, one runs the risk of sacrificing one's life to do so. All in all the difference comes from whether or not one looks through the gaze of a hippie or from the goverment.

"We blew it"

The quote I want to use actually comes from not the reading in full but the very first page of the book. Patti Smith's quote which states "Outside society, that's where I want to be." I use this quote not because I'm lazy and and didn't do the reading but because this quote, especially from the lips of Patti Smith, encompasses more of the theme of the movie, and especially the line "We blew it," then anything Laderman said. Patti Smith, much like the boys of Easy Rider, was on a quest for freedom. She, though, unlike Wyatt and Billy, found it and lived the free life more then 99.9% (and this number is being extremely gracious to the rest of the world) of the people who have ever graced this planet through her punk rock musical ability.
This movie is about 2 men, Wyatt and Billy, on a quest to find the free America. This theme is brought up in the Diner when George discusses that people are afraid of true freedom and what that represents. Wyatt had found that freedom once. He found it from the commune, where he was truly happy. Billy didn't like it but Wyatt knew. Even from the time they picked up the hitchhiker, his name escapes me at the moment, freedom was abundant. "Soon," he said. Billy responded, "That's what you said this morning." The hitchhiker responded, "Sometimes I say it all day." True freedom, living off the land. This is something Wyatt obviously respects with his previous conversation with the farmer. After the commune, they found nothing but hardship. They were arrested the first place they went for illegal parading, George was killed the following place, and even in New Orleans there was at least a confinement to the church during the LSD trip where sorrow and desperate cries for escape were the most real thing any of the four could grasp on to. Even after the quote, "We blew it," was said they were killed on their motorcycles for representing freedom. "We blew it," Wyatt said after their trip into New Orleans. He said this because he knew freedom was found on the commune and they walked out on it, so consumed with trying to find the mythical idea of freedom that he couldn't se it when it was there.

Easy Rider

As stated by Klinger, “this territory still promises freedom, diversity and tolerance.? Such a revelation was discovered when Wyatt and Billy were in the southwest. Yet, I believe that Wyatt’s statement ultimately shows that such a promise of freedom, diversity and tolerance is not nationwide as they discovered in the south. The viewer is able to see the transition of culture with each mile the two hippies make towards New Orleans. In the southwest, they are greeted and welcomed by a family and a youth commune. I believe their dinner with the farmer and his Mexican family truly touched Wyatt. It opened his eyes to the life that he wants and what life should truly be about. He is inspired by the man and his “nice set-up? by living off the land, with a family able to do his own business without interference. For Wyatt and Billy, this is their hope and dream. Wyatt’s statement shows his absolute exhaustion and anger with the culture and the mistreatment he receives. It is his discovery that he will never been accepted within such a culture upon his arrival in the South. After George’s murder, Wyatt puts his life into perspective and realizes that in fact, he did blow it. Billy and Wyatt are models of the counterculture and the South is American culture. They both are very optimistic and Wyatt’s statement shows the frustration that what he was searching for; freedom and national progress, was nonexistent and ultimately ended up murdering George, Billy and himself. Wyatt’s statement serves as “a lyric on behalf of paranoia, saying to the counter-culture: yes, you better fear those ignorant Southern fascist hard-hats.?

As stated by Klinger, “this particular film demonstrates the end of the frontier and the hopes it held for individual freedom and national progress.? I believe that they were both looking for acceptance and a reaction to their counter-cultural lifestyle. They did not find individual freedom and national progress through their traveling. They did find acceptance in many locations of the Southwest where they had stopped, but the further South they reached, the more resistance and unwelcoming responses they received. The scene at the youth commune exemplifies the acceptance I believe they were looking for, but unfortunately only found it within a small community in a remote location. The commune took them in, feeding them and welcoming them like family. Although they did not have much food, they openly without regret gave strangers food and offered them shelter. I think this experience opened Wyatt’s eyes to how the country should be, without judgment. As they traveled, they reached the conclusion that the hopes and dreams of the open road were gone and such was the tragic ending of the film with their deaths. Their quest is framed by white masculinities through their language and the way women are presented in the film. The two women at the youth commune were there only for a good time, but the audience is never able to see what kind of people they are. There are no meaningful conversations with the women or any conversations except mainly for responses to the men. A similar situation arises when the men are in New Orleans with the two prostitutes and they tell the woman “to shut up and take it? when questioning the acid that they were shown. As Klinger states, [that] “Criticism from the alternative and mainstream presses alike generally saw it as a spectacular document of its times that effectively represented the hippie ethos as well as the serious riffs between counter- and dominant cultures.?

February 4, 2008

Easy Rider

"We blew it! "As said at the end of the movie when looked at on surface level, means just that. They did not succeed in their rebellious mission. Upon further analysis, one sees that it is a critique on counterculture. Many people in the 60's were either involved in counterculture or were on the "outside" of this lifestyle. So, by saying "we blew it", and coinciding with the death of both men, one could say that this phrase is a critique of their lifestyle. The way they were living their lives according to the "outsiders" was an unsuccessful way of living.
A life out of the status quo can be seen as threatening to society, and therefore scary to people who don't understand it. When a person isn't consuming goods, and living the American dream they can be percieved as weird, unconventional etc. So, the gang in Easy Rider is no different.

"We Blew It"

"After George's murder, the film becomes increasingly dark in mood, developing a bitter tone of disenchantment. It is as though the oppressive conventions of stable society are ultimately inescapable, contaminating their easy riding on a variety of levels." (Laderman 76)

"It is the end of the road; it is the end of being on the road; and it is the end of wanting to be on the road." (Laderman 77)

Despite Billy’s idealistic insistence otherwise—and against our better hopes (somehow, we want these two scrappy deadbeats to come out swinging)—Wyatt’s claim that the duo “blew it? rings true. Their physical and psychological plight was, ultimately, a quest for identity; an adventure away from a hyper-contextualized, ultra-conservative America and meant to answer the age-old “Where do I belong?? They were searching for a society (or anti-society), built around the purest forms of freedom and self-expression, that would never be. It is because of their differences that America cannot meet them halfway. The film’s landscape makes this era-specific inevitability more obvious after George’s murder, showing our heroes on roads that suddenly don’t look so beautifully, perfectly vast. While they swerve away from and behind each other and, finally, back together again, they are met with the industry and ignorant population that will eventually kill them. The “We blew it? statement and final scene (while Billy lies bleeding beside the road, Wyatt wraps him in his American flag jacket) help establish that the road has ended and the dream is indeed dead.

"We blew it"

Laderman says Wyatt and Billy's

last campfire discussion questions the meaning and validity of their quest (thus the very premise of the film), as Wyatt insists on the failure, even futility, not of America, but of their own journey
(75). Meaning and validity are the reasons why Wyatt says
we blew it.
This line means that Wyatt and Billy never really find what they are looking for. In my opinion this search is for happiness in an evolving country. There is a tension between mainstream America and the figures of counterculture (i.e. Wyatt and Billy), as is demonstrated in the numerous scenes filled with the conservative "rednecks" harrassing the easy riders and especially the scene in the smalltown diner where the travellers find themselves being explicity harrassed for dressing and acting differently by the sheriff and others. Wyatt and Billy are in this social space where they don't know where they belong. These characters are never truly happy and this can be seen in almost any scene with Wyatt because he never smiles, he always seems restless and uneasy (which is ironic because of the title). Take for example the scene where he and Billy are with the prostitutes. Wyatt doesn't feel like he belongs there and instead asks the prostitutes if they want to go outside for the festivities. This is why they quote unquote blew it. As figures of American counterculture they never find happiness. Their companion George is murdered and the only time that the two ever seem peaceful is when they are on the road. This movie opens up interesting questions of whether outsiders of mainstream culture can ever truly find happiness.

Patti's thoughts

Laderman says “The conservative society rejects them (Billy and Wyatt) more than they reject it; that they seek acceptance in their very difference, but that society cannot tolerate such difference.? I think what Laderman says is supported by what Wyatt says at the end of the movie. Wyatt says, “We blew it!? to Billy towards the end of the film. Wyatt is saying that they didn’t fix America like they wanted to. They just wanted to fit in and the only trouble they got into wasn’t their faults. For example, when they enter the dinner to eat and there was the policeman, his friend, and then a table full of girls. The three men decide to leave because they don’t feel comfortable. They didn’t provoke anyone intentionally but the males were very threatened by them because Wyatt, Billy and Charlie were different or counter-culture. Wyatt and Billy wanted America to see that they were people too, but they “blew it? because the only people they interacted with were other “different? people who were also on the periphery of American society. They “blew it? because America was still the same and so were they.

They Blew It!

Advertising signs that con you
Into thinking you're the one
That can do what's never been done
That can win what's never been won
Meantime life outside goes on
All around you.
--Roger McGuinn, "It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)", from the Easy Rider soundtrack

They blew it! The mission of Wyatt aka "Captain America" and Billy was unclear in its beginning, and the results of such a lacking vision seemed to feed the duo's impending doom.

Several points in the movie make this point clear, such as when George dies as a result of being along for the ride. The arrival of George--along with the visit to the commune--were the only times of enlightenment for the two on their road to destruction. It seemed only natural for the chaos of their journey to overwhelm any sense of order. The two are trying to figure out the American Dream, after stealing a piece of the pie. Wyatt wanted to seek truth in their journey, but whenever that truth arises, he shuns it, and instead decides to relish in debauchery. Unlike the stable, easy to follow road their bikes sped across, the journeys of life are disjointed, and self-made. These two were suffering identity crises, clutching onto whatever seemed right. In a way, that seems to be the road to the American Dream.

But Wyatt reaches the same conclusion after achieving material success as Madonna does in her song "American Life: "I'm just living out the American dream/And i just realized nothing is what it seems." The road to success can leave one morally bankrupt, if they don't take efforts to do the right thing. They didn't make that money by any legitimate means, and even if that wasn't the cause of their death, they wouldn't have been under those circumstances if that weren't the path they had chosen.

"We Blew It"

"The process of road travel provokes an internal, psychological process (or journey), thus implying a causal bridge between quest and questioning." Laderman, 72.

I believe that the film Easy Rider is about identity and Wyatt and Billy are on an adventure to discover who they are and how they fit into the evolving contextualized America of the seventies. The film was created during a time of personal struggle for many americans and the culture was changing and people were trying to figure out where they belonged. Being on the road for Wyatt and Billy was an alternative 'quest' for discovery of one's identity and throughout the film they discussed the significance of being and where one came from, Wyatt at one point saying he 'never wanted to be anyone else.' And also the hitchhiker doesn't really say where he's from, just 'a place'.
There is a great deal of reflection in the film and the road is a physical and psychological journey for both Wyatt and Billy, that in the end, because of their differences, America is not yet willing to transcend to that higher meaning Wyatt and Billy are looking to find and during their last campfire, Wyatt realizes this failure and proclaims, 'we blew it'.

Interpretation of "We Blew It"

In the movie Easy Rider, I think their is deep meaning behind Wyatt's phrase "We Blew It". I think this phrase is more about changing their society as it is. The world they see while traveling is extremely racist, violent, and non accepting. I feel that when Wyatt says this famous phrase it is about changing everything they see. The two men played by Hopper and Fonda have nothing to lose. They have their whole lives ahead of them. I think Wyatt says this because they didn't take advantage of their opportunities to inspire others. I also think that this phrase is used to show that everyone have the chance to change. Some people choose to grasp this chance and others choose to let it go. In this movie, they choose to not change and everyone that is close to them, including the two main characters, die. I feel that this phrase foreshadows this. The two men blew their opportunity to alter the world when Nickelson comes along on the journey. I think this movie is about moving forward in life and making a difference. I think this movie shows that if you don't try to make a difference in the world that life is unimportant. It shows that nothing matters but what you do to change and improve the world in which we live.

"We Blew It"...

"After George's murder, the film becomes increasingly dark in mood, develping a bitter tone of disenchanment. It is as though the oppressive conventions of stable society are ultimately inescapable, contaminating their easy riding [...]."
(Laderman, 76)

When Wyatt tells Billy "we blew it", I believe he is making a statement about their direct situation which would entail himself and Billy; however, as films will, they often carry another message behind what is said. "We blew it" could also be used to portray the other young men, and possibly women, who were also part of the sub-American culture of the late 1960's.

Wyatt's statement in the film shows his disappointment in relation to their trip but it also foreshadows the final moments of the journey. Wyatt and Billy do not return home (to where ever that might be, as the movie is about finding their own America and creating their own home) and they do not survive the journey. The statement could be thought of as a precursor to what is to come in the following decade.

Easy Rider- "We Blew It"

The characters' journeys in these films directly commented on the state of contemporary society. More specifically, "Easy Rider" and US road movies of the 1960s carried a certain message about America during a time when the nation's identity was contested (Klinger 180-181).

When Wyatt says, "We blew it" at the end of the movie, he is reflecting on their journey. In the beginning, they were on a quest searching for "America", a place that is supposed to represent freedom and acceptance. What they find, however, is that society is cruel, judgemental, and not accepting at all. After riding for a while, and experiencing the non-accepting culture within America, Wyatt realizes that they "blew it"; they were searching for a type of society that just does not exist.

Easy Rider- "We Blew It"

"If they have failed to be truly countercultural, the road now mirrors their failure with images of technology's own failure to fulfill its ideological promise of improving society: here, it seems more like a contamination" (Laderman, 77)

This quote connects Wyatt's words of, "We blew it" with a failure to be "truly countercultural". It is a prophetic statement in that it hints at a failure of countercultural ideals in general. The failure of the countercultural movement to instill all of its ideals moving into the seventies can be thought about in terms of Wyatt's statement. To juxtapose this failure with a very different type of riding montage than the others in the film speaks to Laderman's connection of the two men's countercultural failure and the technological failure of modern society. The landscape is quite different-- stark and uninviting with power lines and factories (Laderman, 77). This differencee as opposed to the beautiful landscapes seen in previous driving sequences equates the failure of Wyatt and Billy's trip with the failure of technology to make better the society in which we live. The ever-present tension between rebellion and conformity comes to a climactic end when the rednecks (representing conformity) kill the easy riders (representing rebellion) amidst an ugly industrial landscape. Conformity wins in the backdrop of industrial society and Wyatt and Billy's attempt at being truly countercultural does not happen. They cannot find the true "America" through the means that they choose-- continual mobility-- and conformist America hinders their chances time and time again on their way and ultimately ends their journey and quest for freedom.

"We Blew It"

In saying "we blew it," I believe that Wyatt was expressing his disappointment in the results of their travels. Their good friend George was dead and instead of spending money on useful, practical things, they "blew it" on prostitutes and gas to go places that they didn't belong. I think that the phrase "we blew it" was an expression of Wyatt's regret as well, for using the hippie culture for it's access to drugs and sex instead of the revolutionary changes that the movement could make possible.

"We BLEW It"

It is the end of the road; it is the end of being on the road; it is the end of wanting to be on the road.
(Laderman 77)


Easy Rider is not just a story of two young Americans hitting the road like many other wide-eyed Americans of the time. They may have gone out looking for America like many other had, but Wyatt and Billy’s journey has many twists and turns that eventually lead them right back to where they came from. Wyatt and Billy are lost when they start out their journey. In search of ‘true’ America, they travel to many different rural country sides that appear to temporarily soothe their hunger for American independence and free-living. However, as their travels come to an end Wyatt says to Billy, “We blew it.? Wyatt isn’t referring to the many illegal acts they had engaged in throughout their journey; killing George, taking LSD, selling drugs. Wyatt finally comes to the realization that their hopeful journey has only lead to disappointment. They had not found America on their road to New Orleans, and perhaps they had just not been looking hard enough.

The movie changes dramatically after that last campfire scene. The lighting in darker, the music is gloomy, and the characters no longer possess the desire for the road. The ending where both Wyatt and Billy are killed shows that they had lost their own game. They were not able to be happy with their lives as Americans.

February 3, 2008

"We Blew It"

The ‘search for America’ undertaken by Captain America and his sidekick Billy is not geographical, it is literally a quest to find out where America’s head is at (Klinger 181).

The goal of Captain America (Wyatt) and Billy’s trip was to discover America’s mindset. The initial scenes portrayed the characters hope for an accepting humane society. Wyatt and Billy had their hidden drug money, freedom, the beauty of the open road, and Born to be Wild playing as their anthem.

While on this trip Wyatt and Billy experience the death of a fallen comrade, George, leaving Wyatt to make the statement “we blew it.?

To me the “we? refers to society and Wyatt is discovering that the quest to find out what America’s mindset is has led them to the understanding that society’s culture does not accept societal differences but instead expects everything and everyone to conform to a standard norm. When Wyatt, Billy and George were being released from jail, George informed them that if he hadn’t been there they would have received haircuts. On top of the conformity, people not understanding the differences between themselves and Wyatt and Billy are frightened by them and this emotion is displayed as hate. Wyatt and Billy are turned away from a hotel after the night desk clerk came out and saw the two of them on their motorcycles. Another example of fear fueling hatred would be the night Wyatt, Billy and George spent in the woods only to find themselves being attacked in the middle of the night.

Once Wyatt made the statement about blowing it the mood of the film changed and the feeling that the characters had given up on their society began. George had been killed, Wyatt and Billy were forced to sleep outside and live as outsiders, and the scenery of the road became more gloomy and industrialized.

We Blew It

Typically one passes through the landscape, as a means, toward destination; but in Easy Rider movement through the landscape becomes an end in itself, specifically in terms of appreciating the landscape. Moreover, such appreciation of the environment becomes a way to rediscover one's self. (Laderman p.71)

Wyatt's comment at the end of the movie struck me to be a realization of their lives. The whole movie Wyatt and Billy were working so hard to make it to Mardi Gras. They went through some ups and a lot of downs on their journey. The quote I found in Ladermans' Driving Visions is explaining that, throughout their experience they were able to realize different characteristics about eachother and themselves. They met new people along their trip and thought they were on their way to success with all the money they had collected from selling drugs. Wyatt expressed that he thought they had failed and I feel Billy didn't understand why Wyatt would say that. Throughout the entire film Wyatt and Billy rode side by side. At the end of the film when they were riding down the road next to the open field, Wyatt drives ahead of Billy leaving him behind. I felt this scene really showed the separation of the two guys and the ugliness that was being portrayed. Wyatts' comment was a realization that just because they had a lot of money and drugs, they were still missing something. I think what they were missing was being with it all the time and living life without any subtances taking over their feelings.

"We Blew It"

Laderman points out that many novels present the road journey as "therapeutic relief from stable, repressive domestic American culture" (12), the same can be said for Easy Rider. Wyatt and Bill dream of fleeing from their lives as outcasts in dominant society and find their own conception of freedom. They take to the road, leaving behind all that they know in order to find something better. What Laderman describes as "therapeutic relief", Wyatt in Easy Rider sees as a cure for the sense of captivity he feels from being part of mainstream society. When Wyatt claimed that he and Bill "blew it" at the end of the film, he realized that their arrival and departure from New Orleans signified the end to a journey that they had hoped would free them from the society from which they fled, and open up a new door leading to a more ideal life. The journey was in fact successful for Bill, who died with a feeling of freedom and success, unlike Wyatt, who felt as if his life had ended when their journey had. The two men started their new lives on their motorcycles, making it only fitting that the end of their lives would coincide that of their motorcycles', their vehicles of freedom.

We blew it.

The 'search for America' by Wyatt and his side kick Billy is not geographical, it is a literal quest to find out where America's head is at.

When Wyatt exclaims "we blew it" he is not talking about their personal journey, but rather referring to America as a whole. Wyatt and Billy had left LA looking for America and freedom. What was found was unexpected and disappointing. The beginning of their journey was promising - the farm and the commune both shared great potential for personal independence and strong, tight knit communities. Both placed an emphasis on living off of the land, which was an important aspect of American life on the frontier. But as Wyatt and Billy travel further east they are met with persecution for their long hair and unruly looks. They (and George) are victims of hate crimes and ultimately murder.
Wyatt is making the point that we -America as a whole- blew it. There was potential for freedom and independence but somewhere along the way prejudice and intolerance won out.

Who blew it?

And yet, the road also can provoke anxiety: We take the road, but it also takes us. Will we survive the upcoming hairpin turn? Are we on an extended detour, full of delusions? Do we need to turn onto a new road?
Wyatt and Billy are on the road, but they don't have to be. They had at least two chances to stop somewhere and find a home. That's where those last two questions and Wyatt's statement come in. He is saying that they blew their chance, the took the extended detour and didn't turn onto the new road when they should have and well, look what happened. They didn't stay where they could have been accepted and continued to poke at society right in people's faces and that got their friend killed and in the end them killed as well. When they are at the farm Wyatt looks like he might consider that to be a nice life once he got older and when they were with the hippies he seemed like he might want to settle down and stay there right then. But they kept moving and went from places where the people were friendly to them to places where the people hated them. They blew it by leaving where they could be accepted, whether they fit in or not. The culture and counterculture also blew it. They were both too extreme. The counterculture, like Billy and Wyatt, were so very different from the mainstream culture and refused to make concessions, simply expected everyone else to accept them. When they are in the diner in the small town and simply sitting there waiting for service is a very good example of this. The mainstream culture was also too extreme but in the other direction. It is too traditional and too unchanging. The girls in that diner who were so desperate for Wyatt, Billy and George wanted something new and different and the culture that they were part of restricted them from it. The fact that a counterculture so extreme and different grew out of the mainstream culture says a lot in itself about how much too traditional the mainstream culture was. In short they all blew it because a middle ground needed to be found and both culture and counterculture needed to make concessions for the other but neither would and so they will both destroy each other and themselves.

So I guess they blew it....

“Perhaps the counterculture drive of our rambling protagonists has become infected by conservative society’s misguided technology fetishism, fostering their failure.?

By proclaiming, “We blew it,? I feel Wyatt is reflecting on their lives and the journey they have been taking. In the beginning they are “Born to be Wild? and road ready, but society and the road itself has beaten them down. During their first stretches on the road they were so sure of themselves and ready for anything and now I think Wyatt is questioning himself.
They prided themselves on being different and free with nothing to hold them back, and Wyatt is realizing that their actions have consequences. Because of their refusal to conform, their new friend was murdered. Also, I think Wyatt is feeling uncontrollable guilt about the death of George. Why did George have to be the one to die and both of them made it with minimal injuries? They bring along another passenger and essentially get him killed. Although they did not intend for this to happen to George, because of their lifestyle choices they were the victims of a hate crime.
As sad as hate crime is, it happens. This film put something on the screen that I am sure was controversial at the time. Most things are controversial because they are true; just no one talks about it. These types of events happened in society, which shows what “hate of the unknown? can do to a person. George himself realized that they were being hated against because they were scared of the freedom they represented.

"We Blew It"

“It is the end of the road; it is the end of being on the road; and it is the end of wanting to be on the road? (Laderman 77).
I found it appropriate that Easy Rider started Wyatt and Billy’s journey with “Born to be Wild? playing in the background because the whole purpose of Wyatt and Billy’s journey on the road was to find America and they were willing to do whatever it took to find it. As they traveled, their goal was to experience the America that they had never known. They wanted to see if it truly existed. At the end of the film, as Wyatt and Billy sit around their campfire, Billy excitedly exclaims “we did it,? but Wyatt replies with, “we blew it.? Through these words Wyatt is expressing his feelings of failure for not finding what they were originally looking for. The two of them have completely different interpretations of the success of their journey on the road. Billy feels like life is just beginning because of the money that they received, but Wyatt feels like life is coming to an end because he was not able to find what he was originally looking for. At this point in the film Wyatt has given up on his search to find the real America he was originally searching for. It is the end of his road, his being on the road, and his wanting to be on the road.

February 2, 2008

"We Blew It"

"It is as though the oppressive conventions of stable society are ultimately inescapable, contaminating their easy riding on a variety of levels." (David Laderman. pg.76)
Wyatt and Billy set out on their ride to find America, because they are not satisfied with the status quo living. They are frustrated with the way people in America are living and they want to redescover it in a way. This is shown by their drug selling/doing, fast, almost rebellious life style. They want to be anything but conventional. Whether selling drugs, getting high, or just plain riding they want to be set apart. As they ride, their not exactly sure where they're going, how long they're staying , but whatever they do they want it to be new and different. As the lyrics of the Byrds' song goes that was played in the movie, " I wasn't born to follow." Much of the depth of the movie happened during their conversations around camp fires. They talked about the freedom that they were trying to acheive, and how they didn't want to be caught up in the stability of society. Like was shown when they stopped at the home of their first hitchhiker. When Wyatt became to what he thought was "too comfortable" he immediately wanted to move on. Throughout the movie you could tell that he felt the struggle of escaping normalcy, and "regular" living. One of the climaxes at the end of the movie, he exclaims to Billy, "We blew it." This can be interpreted

Continue reading ""We Blew It"" »

"We Blew It!"

"... the end of this montage subtly suggests that the failure of the journey is also interpersonal: full shots of them riding show them seperating, moving apart from eachother, as well as moving backward within the frame as they literally move forward. It is the end of the road; it is the end of being on the road; and it is the end of wanting to be on the road" (Driving Visions, Laderman, pg 77)

In the film Easy Rider, Billy and Wyatt, the two main characters, embark on a journey, with the aid of drug money, to find what they deem as the 'counterculture.' They believe it will be then that they find true happiness and can rid themselves of conformity. Throughout almost their entire jounrey on the road, Billy, with his long hair, and Wyatt with his 'free' attitude feel as if they are representing a very non-conformist, rebelious lifestyle. Travelling on the road with their motorcycles further reiterates their belief. They live their life in a selfrighteous manner, but ultimately, they come to realize differently.

With the death of their friend George, Wyatt later states that "We blew it." Though he never fully explains what he means, the viewer is led to determine for themselves his meaning. I came to the conclusion that Wyatt is now realizing that what he thought to be the non-conformist life style has really turned out to be quite the predictable one for him. All this time, he thought he was being unique and different from the norm of society, but in reality, he was doing exactly what was expected of his kind: rebelling. Though it is true they do not fit the "redneck" stereotype, they certainly play into another one, that being of young 'hippy-like' men. I think Wyatt realizes that they conformed, just in a different way, and he ultimately feels defeated.

Just as the quote above states, once this realization occurs, the desire to be on the road, and live the not-so counterculture lifestyle is no longer wanted and thus the road life is no longer sought.

Admitting Defeat and Selfish Motives

Throughout the film Easy Rider, the viewer witnesses a internal struggle between counterculture/individualism and the pressure and underlying desire to conform to the lifestyle that is prescribed, mapped out, and easy. Captain American embodies this contradictory attitude, as Laderman argues:

Captain America's peaceful soul searching strangely recollects and rearticulates the quiet stoicism of the cowboy. He also admires the rugged individualism of the farmer; from this perspective, his name suddenly reveals the militant patriotism and "manifest destiny" it intends to mock." (48, Journal of Film and Video)

Throughout the film, Captain America and Billy attempt to lose themselves among the outliers of civilization, yet their ultimate goal of smuggling drug money negates their efforts to 'get back to the earth'. While eating with the farmer's family, Capitan America remarks "You should be proud". Capitan America truly admires an escape from capitalism, and living off of the land. Yet, he and Billy's motives are ultimately selfish and rooted in capitalism, tainting their interaction with those who are truly "apart" from the constraints of society.

The lyrics to a song from the soundtrack, "Its alright Ma (I'm only bleeding)" by Robert McGuin, explain:

Pointed threats, they bluff with scorn/ suicide remarks are torn. From the fools gold mouthpiece/ the hollow horn plays wasted words/proved to warn/that he not busy being born/ is busy dying

Here the sentiment of being dragged down by capitalist desires is echoed in "fools gold mouthpiece" and "he not busy being born/ is busy dying". Although Billy and Capitan American claim to be "apart" from societies demands, they ultimately surrender by claiming their ultimate adventure is one of discovery, when in reality -- its motives are monetary.

Capitan America's utterance "We blew it" epitomizes the disappointment he discovers within himself when he realizes how the open road, adventure, and individualism they claimed to seek was driven by money and self-service. In the end, the road movie ideals "punish" their greed, and cut their trip (and their lives) short.

Continue reading "Admitting Defeat and Selfish Motives" »

February 1, 2008

"We Blew It"

While the American Dream is essentially about success and security, about making it, the road is about escape, and freedom.
Romancing the Road by Eyerman, page 74. I believe that Wyatt was under the impression that money doesn't fulfills life and happiness so he wasn't satisfied at the end of their trip. Their mission was to go out and find the America that they hadn't experienced before which was complete freedom from everything and exploration for experience. It was very fitting that when they set out on their journey,
Born to Be Wild
was playing in the background, as if they were born to be on the road. The American Dream is supposed to mean that people have freedom but in the movie, it was evident that most people like the so-called
rednecks
were too afraid to let go of the lives that they were leading. For example, the men in the small town diner that were discriminating against Wyatt, George and Billy because they had long hair and dressed differently, didn't think that anybody should act or be different. When Wyatt said them three words after they left Mardi Gras, he meant that him and Billy two blew it for anyone that thought America was different because they were supposed to find that there was another success other than money. When Billy was satisfied with the fact that they were rich with money, Wyatt was disappointed because money was all they knew before they ventured on the trip. They set out to find something new and instead in the end, they gave into the societal norms with money measuring success. Life itself was supposed to be the reward since they were experiencing a different kind of life, independence, with the choice that they could decide what they wanted to do and when they wanted to do it, without boundaries. I think it is sad that the only measurement of success and happiness always has to be connected to money and that is what Wyatt was starting realize and it frustrated him. I would also like to add that I thought it was ironic that Wyatt said
we blew it
and was unsatisfied with life and then the next day, they were both shot to death. Isn't it ironic?

"We Blew It!"

It is a celebration of the freedom of the road and the beauty of the landscape and a dissertation on the end of the road and the repulsive banalities and industrial blight that disfigure the scenery.
Klinger pg. 199

At the end of the film, when Wyatt says, "We blew it," it is left open-ended to the audience. He doesn't continue to explain what he means by this phrase, but one can draw a conclusion that its in relation to Billy and Wyatt's failure to oppose the cultural norm of America during their trip. There roadtrip was on the premise of being countercultural and as they leave New Orleans, Wyatt realizes that they have failed to do this.
The landscape itself after this phrase becomes dull and the 'norm' of American society. Throughout the entire film, Wyatt is always 'on the go' and restless. He wants to keep moving as if away from "normal" cities and industrialization. The song Born to Be Wild in the beginning of the film reinforces this restless, always on the move feeling.
The "we" that Wyatt uses is referring to himself and Billy. It was their adventure; their roadtrip. Wyatt and Billy failed to stay against the norm of society. They got caught up in the stability of culture.

...the road now mirrors their failure with images of technology's own failure to fulfill its ideological promise of improving society: here, it seems more like a contamination.
Laderman pg. 77

"We blew it"...

"American road novels generally devote more romantic attention to the highway and automobile. Yet the automobile bears within it an ambivalence, around whether it frees or imprisons us." (Laderman, p. 9)

Wyatt (aka 'Captain America') and Billy set out at the beginning of the movie on an adventure, using illegally-earned money to seek the freedom and excitement of the road on the way to their ultimate destination: a prime example of hedonistic rebellion against societal order, Mardi Gras. Their adventure seems to be fueled by an underlying desire for some kind of greater enlightenment or sensual/emotional/spiritual awakening than they have experienced within the confines of society. Wyatt discards his watch at the onset of their journey, signifying (according to Laderman) the "urge to move beyond not only social and narrative conventions, but temporal and spatial ones." (Laderman, p. 68) Yet on their journey, they find themselves unable to completely escape the constraints of time, space, and conservative culture - in fact they find themselves dependent on them, to some extent.

The first indication of struggle between freedom and conservative culture occurs immediately, when Billy and Wyatt look for a hotel room to sleep in and yet are rejected by the very "institution" they are attempting to leave behind on their journey. They end up sleeping in nature, in a less comfortable and ideal sleeping situation but with more "freedom". Ironically, they feel safer and more free in the wild than they do where they are not accepted, in the hotel run by a man representing the conservative ideals they are trying to outrun. Later, though, Billy and Wyatt are robbed of this safety in nature, when they are brutally beaten by local rednecks who again reject their free-loving, wild spirit lifestyle. Their freedom is constricted by society. Wyatt, unable to feel as exhilarated about life using drugs as Billy, states somewhat prophetically "We blew it" near the end of the movie. There is no way he could have known that the would both be killed the next day, the ultimate rejection by the closed-minded rural rednecks they have continually encountered - but he felt that their journey was in vain. They presumably squandered a large amount of their drug money on more drugs, alcohol, and sex, and were unable to truly find the elusive freedom from society that they set out in search of.

We blew it!

"...a spectacular document of its times that effectively represented the hippie ethos as well as the serious rifts between counter- and dominant cultures." (Klinger, p. 179)

Easy Rider begins its journey full of hope for Billy and Wyatt and ends with such a horrific event that it truly represented the vast differences that divided the country at that time. Billy and Wyatt represent what Americans fear and hope for the most - true freedom. Buying motorcycles and setting off on the road without a care and with nothing to tie them down encapsulates what many Americans can only dream of doing, as modern society has dictated that in order to have a valid life you must have a job, a spouse, and a mortgage bill. If you do not sign on for that lifestyle, than yours is not valid, as seen in the eyes of America, thus creating fear (which becomes hate) of those who are free. Because of this difference, and for the freedom that they cannot have, the people that they meet in the South are set upon hating Billy & Wyatt, ensuring that they feel as unwanted and worthless as possible. Eventually, this leads to violence, and ultimately, death, as that has become the American way of dealing with things that are deemed unacceptable.
Wyatt’s proclamation of “We blew it? at the end of the movie represents the end of the hippie culture, the end of true freedom. As their journey showed, neither drugs, sex, nor money allow attainment of freedom, and that the further away from Los Angeles they got, the less their culture was accepted. What was accepted as the dominant culture in one region was the counter culture in another.
The film uses many techniques to portray these cultural differences, including the way in which scenes were shot and the change in Billy and Wyatt’s attitudes. In the beginning, there are many panoramic shots of wide open space, uncivilized land, and free moving peoples. Towards the end, the shots become focused on societal progress in the form of buildings, graveyards, and businesses, ultimately forcing those who lived there to form roots. As the scenes change, so do the characters attitudes. At the start of their journey, Billy and Wyatt ride erratically over the road, changing lanes, playing with their bikes, and acting carefree. As they begin to move into the South, they become more reserved, trying to get through to Mardi Gras as quickly as they can, which they begin after they encounter trouble in the “parading without a permit? scene.
In the end, we learn that true freedom does not come easily, and that the dominant culture is not always as accepting of counter cultures, as maybe it should be.

"We Blew it"

In Driving Visions, Laderman states that "at a certain point down the road, the road movie's glorified mobility seems to yield a disillusioned attitude in the protagonist, who have been unable truly to escape, and who have internalized (brought with them) the pressures of conformist society." This quote seems to help explain Wyatt's "We blew it" statement in the fact that neither Wyatt or Billy ever escaped conservative and conformist America despite all their efforts. For instance, at their last campfire conversation Billy says now that they have all their money they can go to Florida and retire. This statement is reinforcing the ideals of conservative America where you do settle down and have a sense of stability. At this point in the film, Wyatt is no longer "disillusioned" from traveling on the road and realizes that they never did completely embrace American counterculture but were stuck with the beliefs of conformist America. Indeed conformist America literally kept following Wyatt and Billy while they were on the road - one example is when the men in the diner follow them to their campsite and give them a brutal reminder of the conservative America they are trying to escape from. Another instance is of course at the very end when the pickup truck, another symbol of American conformist culture rather than a motorcycle, chases after Wyatt and Billy showing that no matter where they go the conservative American culture will always be with them. With this last sequence in the film, with the exploding motorcycle and two deaths, we get an extreme visual of the counterculture ideals dying and in the end the conformist culture conquers. When Wyatt says, "We blew it" he finally realizes that no matter how far they traveled the conformist culture will always be with them.

"We blew it!"

As stated by David Laderman in his work Driving Vision,

“It is the end of the road; it is the end of being on the road; and it is the end of wanting to be on the road?
(Laderman 77). This observation fully encapsulates the final statement “We blew it? by Wyatt in Easy Rider by stating the end and being defeated. This powerful declaration symbolizes and states how both Wyatt and Billy were unable to glorify the counter-culture declaration by them by taking to the road and living a lifestyle opposite of what America stood for in the 1960s. From the beginning of the film, we are given the images of how these two men embark on the land to not only discover America, but to start the life they have always wanted to. The image of the two of them at the beginning of the film, getting on their bikes, Wyatt throwing away the symbolism of time and constraint set by society through the watch, and riding away together begins the overall emphasis of counter-culture by going against how most in society and America live. This beginning is also enhanced by the rock song “Born to be Wild? by having the image of them on their new life adventure together in connection with the words of the song, to enhance the overall connection of living and going against the norm. Throughout the movie they live their new life they way they have always wanted to, continuing to stat how they finally are able to do things according to how they have wanted. The life of freedom, drugs, women, and the overall ambition of not having to answer to anyone. The two men however are challenged various times by catching up with society and its conservative values along the way, by being arrested, ridiculed, and attacked for living their lives they have been on the road. In the end, however, Wyatt realizes they were unable to live the life they wanted and the life they felt they belonged to wasn’t real, in addition to realizing the life they felt they belonged to wasn’t truly for them, is where Wyatt makes the statement and observation “we blew it!? Although the statement at the end of the film “we blew it!? is never fully understood or elaborated due to the sudden end of the all-American road trip by society Wyatt and Billy were getting away from, there are many interpretations to be made about what can be deemed the most profound words spoken within the film Easy Rider.

Blowing It In Easy Rider

"It is as though the oppressive conventions of stable society are ultimately inescapable, contaminating their easy riding on a variety of levels. The sense that stability, and all if its pitfalls clings to their wanderlust is most pronounced during the film's first climax" (Laderman 76).

Wyatt's lingering line, "we blew it," in "Easy Rider" can refer to many aspects of the film, but above all, I believe this line refers to the duos inability to carry out the rugged individualism and wandering ambition that they had tried hard to uphold throughout the film. From the early scenes of the film, Wyatt and Billy sit in stark contrast to stability and a roadless life. When they have dinner with a farmer and his family, the contrast in the appearance of the characters alone illustrates this point. Later, when Billy and Wyatt reach the commune, they find a sanctuary for wanderers, basically a safe haven: "Thank you for a place to make a stand" (Easy Rider). Even here, where wanderers are content to stay, Wyatt and Billy grow ever restless to leave again. The duo are individuals and live their lives by the road, a contrast to everything and everyone around them.
Their greatest success, and consequently their greatest failure, comes when they meet George Hansen. Here, I find, is where the meaning of Wyatt's "we blew it" line originates. George is a lawyer who finds himself bored with life and consequently is a drunkard. He embodies American culture, standing still in a place that has outgrown him, being free without freedom. Billy and Wyatt represent the American counterculture of true freedom and wanderlust. As the three of them take off on the road, we see the culture and counterculture mesh in the childlike flying motions Billy and George make on the road. We see how this combination affects American culture in the diner scene. As the trio sit and wait for service, groups of people sit around and talk about them. A group of men discuss the inhumaneness of the trio, comparing them to gorillas, an officer and his friend discuss ways to "deal" with them

Continue reading "Blowing It In Easy Rider" »

January 31, 2008

"We blew it"

"If they have failed to be truly countercultural, the road now mirrors their failure with images of technology's own failure to fulfill its ideological promise of improving society: here it seems more like a contamination" (p.77, Laderman). This film represents so much and has so much symbolism and irony that I am not quite sure where to begin. Firstly though, I just have to mention that together both Billy and Wyatt truely represent future conservative, patriarchal, white supremist society as they are able to simply take off on their bikes to travel which is something both dangerous and impossible for women and other minority groups and when they arrive at Madam Tinkertoys they treat women like the rest of society does, like objects of personal pleasure. Perhaps this is what Wyatt is getting at when he makes his near the end quote but it is obvious that Billy never comprehends any of these things. Billy does not seem to be on a journey of himself but rather on some quick road trip to satisfy his enjoyment of the opposite sex. Billy is an opressed man who revolts by oppressing others and these characteristics are evident and blatant in nearly every case of him meeting new people. He pokes fun of the hippie hitchhiker and his friends and threatens George in the jail cell (placing fear in others to ultimately have the upper hand) and criticizes the people and things that do not represent him which is a complete diservice to the counterculture that he is supposed to be. The journey to find (north)America was ironic because in reality they were smack dab in the middle of it the entire time! The journey for 'America' is different for each person because no group of people truely want the same thing nor can they agree. America is constantly at war with eachother to prove who is right and who is wrong and in the mean time they are contaminating minds. Drugs are also used in this movie and in the lyrics of songs for temporary escape and also for reflection and they bring out the truth like when the men are around the campfire talking. The drugs they use are artificial and poisoning to the find though just like their conservative society and perhaps they solve a problem for the time being but they can become addictive and harmful if relied on.

January 30, 2008

Reflection on Easy Rider

In Eyerman" and Lofgren's, "Romancing the Road" they state that,

" In the end, however, it is normality that emerges victorious: the hero realizes that his yuppie life was empty and meaningless, and even manages to transform the femme-fatale into a pretty- and harmless- middle class women."

I believe that this statement does a good job summing up what Fonda meant when he said, "we blew it." while spending the night on the open road. The comment is very open- ended and can be interpreted in many ways. What I think they meant by it was that their hippie- easy going lives were given in when they sold coke and gained money the easy way. Although they profited financially they found no fulfillment. They can't even get a hotel room because of their image. Their choices are to conform and become more "normal" like the "rest" of America or camp out and piss away their money on booze, drugs, and women. Money does not make you free and is a way of conforming to control and the market.

One of the opening songs, "Born to be Wild" contains the lyrics, "like a true nature's child, we were born born to be wild." This song is basically played in its entirely showing the "Easy Riders" on their motorcycles on the open road and natures scenery. This music and composition of shots sets the mood and theme for the counterculture aspect of the show; Rebels taking the open road, not conforming to societies standards, looking rugged, having long hair, riding motorcycles and doing drugs.

Even though the movie seems to support the image and culture of the non-conformists it is about the non-conformists failure and dissatisfaction and unfulfillment of their own lives. What has seemed to happen in real America since this film is that more and more people are conforming to a standard and that doesn't seem to be such a great thing either. After discussing this film with my parents my mom said that Peter Fonda once said in an interview that their reason for making that movie was so they had a reason to do a lot of drugs....