Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Above and Beyond

In the previous blog, I discussed how motorcycle gangs could have come about. It all started with pilots coming out of the sky and entering back into society as changed men. The changes of these men seems incredibly cool and appealing, and many of these characteristics can be seen, some what, in the youth of the 60’s, during the Hippies movement.

Easy Rider is a great movie to view these attitudes in my opinion. Wyatt and Billy are two counterculture characters making their way across America to find “the life”. Majority of the movie is just them, their bikes, and the road. Various hitch-hikers come along and provide Wyatt and Billy with insights and good times. However, as they enter into society, trouble and disaster strike as the public bristles in the motorcyclists’ presence.

First of all, these two are truly free. As George Hanson told them after they were shunned out of a restaurant, the public detests people like Billy and Wyatt because they “represent true freedom,” and the public doesn’t want to think that it isn’t free. I found this true freedom the first very cool thing about these counterculture characters. Their appearance is the first clue to their independence. Long hair, motorcycles, strange dress, these two definitely stick out in a crowd. They don’t care what others think about how they look. They are also confident and comfortable on their own. As I watched the movie, I got the idea of an old western; the lone cowboys enter the town, outsiders not a part of the villagers’ world, showing the towns people that there is more than the safe, settled mundane life they have. The girls are drawn to these outsiders, to their independence, confidence, and new freedoms; the guys are threatened by this challenge of how things should be.

While both Wyatt and Billy represent true freedom, they each represent a different take on living that freedom. Billy is a focused man; he has plans, and he is going after them no matter what. He is loud; he is rowdy, he is ready to have a good time, he is living. Think of Bender from The Breakfast Club. He is also a symbol of the material side of life. Billy is always worrying about the money and any changes to their plans to go to Marti Gras. After they visit the brothel, have good food, and get high, he feels as if they have found the life. They can “retire in Florida”. Wyatt, on the other hand, is one trying to find the meaning of life, kind of like Crush from Finding Nemo, although, Crush is more present than Wyatt is. He is quiet, easy going, observant, and almost outside of himself while he watches, not experiences, the adventure they are having. He accepts others as they are and doesn’t seem attached to anything. It seems very cool to get everything that you want or being that quiet, observant person who understands what is going on, but this movie shows that each type of cool is flawed. Both characters ended up unhappy, one had experienced life, and the other realized that they had really messed up. It seems that what is ultimately found cool in Easy Rider is the peace you have, like the settled farmer or the first hitch-hiker’s settlement. You should be happy with life.


  1. I love your comparisons between the guys from Easy Rider and Crush! He was my favorite character in Finding Nemo, and until now I hadn't really thought about him being his own type of counterculture. I also agree with your comparison to Bender. He is quite like Billy in a lot of ways that I hadn't considered before because I never thought of him as materialistic, but I understand where you're coming from with that thought.

  2. Likening them to cowboys is an interesting concept. The West was always about making freedom, so two guys from the western part of the US being messengers of freedom totally dead on. This idea of the class of regions is interesting. Keep thinking about this...