This week we watched the film Easy Rider. The film is significant because it places emphasis upon the idea of freedom and living your own life. In the film the two main characters are played by Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper, a couple of stoners living in the 1960’s during the hippie movement. Throughout the movie we are shown the many types of freedom that come with the lifestyle that these particular wayfarers and their counterparts have come to embrace. But more importantly we see the significance of the counterculture and what was happening to it at the time.
The biggest downfall of the counterculture was due to the fact that many of the people who claimed the word counterculture were based on the archetype of the Dennis Hopper character. The people who fell under this particular mold were into the movement because it was freedom from the norm through drug use and general good times. By becoming a separate entity from conventional life they could embrace all the good times the counterculture had come to represent. The problem with this is that it left behind the ideas that the counterculture was supposed to idealize. Issues such as the state of the environment, the segregation of blacks in the south, and self expression, which were pushed to the back of the mind by drugs, sex, and rock and roll. The biggest proponent of the downfall of the movement was LSD. As demonstrated in the movie, LSD was not a good time. It led to a bad trip where not a whole lot made sense. However, it maintained popularity among the hippies ultimately frying many brains and destroying any significant chance of change the counterculture may have been able to produce.
The counterculture did have some partial positives. It taught people that it was alright to live differently. Not everyone is meant to be bound into a world that constantly repeats itself day after day. The people who represented this type of lifestyle were truly groundbreaking because they could force themselves to forego the comforts that life could offer in order to obtain something far simpler for their simple lifestyle. One of these reasons we said that the two main characters from the movie failed was because they were trying to use money from a drug deal to begin their new life. They weren’t going for the simple ideals that the culture seemed to embrace. Had they done so they would have stayed at the developing commune they encountered in the beginning of the film. However, to put in a good word for Peter Fonda’s character it looked as though he was content in that position. He knew the lifestyle that he wanted, but he let Dennis Hopper steer them away from what was right. Ultimately the two were killed because of the lifestyle that they embraced. Although the hatred was exaggerated it makes the prejudice that was placed on the group as a whole grossly apparent and disgusting.
Although I don’t embrace the idea of the counterculture, I think that if you can use drugs and still be a functional member of society then why not do it? It’s something that is fun, it’s different, and altogether it’s generally a good time, however I know from experience that no drug leaves you completely functional. Therefore when I try to sympathize with their way of thinking I find nothing but opposition.