It was the Mercedes Super Bowl commercial that got me looking at it again, evoking memories of an era that mirrored what I see today. Yes, it was 1969 the year of Woodstock, the generation of love and peace and the days of the Vietnam War. Easy Rider was released and made every guy want to own a bike to travel to Mardi Gras while every girl wanted to date Peter Fonda. Fonda (aka Captain America) became a cult hero from that movie. Aside from Fonda who was pretty good looking in a quiet counter-culture way, his side kick was Dennis Hopper who was a bit rough around the edges, and Jack Nicholson being, well Jack Nicholson. In New Orleans, there was no war – just music, love and partying. During the ride, there were drugs and there was and still is prejudices, nonacceptances and hatred that lead to violent endings.
I watched the movie again remembering how it portrayed the birth of the counter culture that challenge the leadership of America. Things haven’t changed in 48 years. I can’t read a paper, or sign onto Facebook without seeing strong conflicts with what is happening within our newly elected government and between friends and family who passionately express their point of view. To stand on the sidelines and say, “been there, done that” is not my usual way, but I won’t get involved by starting a argument with people I love and who are part of the life I love. Maybe this retired voice is no longer the counter cultur liberal it once once, defending her position against all odds. I had my voice in the last election. It is time for me to look closer to home now for the stability and love I crave.
Getting back to the movie, looking at it now, I see the idealism in these guys hoping to cash in on the American dream without having to succumb to the standards of a broken society. As they found out, being individualistic has it’s consequences. I think they were misinformed when they believed drug dealing was a lucrative, long term career path. (Whose parent guided them anyway?) Even though Peter Fonda was a hottie back then (and I must say, still looks good now), good looks and singing for your supper doesn’t usually pay the rent.
We must not forget that in the 48 years since Easy Rider, attitudes really have grown more liberal with the acceptance of those with different lifestyle or origins. Those who opposed gay rights, laughed at the women’s movement or practiced discrimination did nothing to stop it from becoming part of our world. It is too late to turn the clock back to 1969. We did accomplish a lot and there is still more to do. The ride goes on.