When I was in college I can remember a particularly alcohol soaked evening in which I was debating politics with the kid who lived across the hall from me in my dorm. This was typical for us as we both liked beer, politics, and arguing our wildly divergent political perspectives. On this particular night we were discussing the ins and outs of a movie we both loved, Easy Rider.
David, my friend from across the hall, said that Easy Rider was his favorite movie. It was and is one of my favorites also. I asked him though how he could be such a liberal, I think the term I used was “prick”, and like this movie. He looked at me like the transistors in my brain were misfiring, which after 5 beers they clearly were.
“Are you nuts? Easy Rider is the ultimate lefty movie.” He said. “Drugs, long hair, a commune, open promiscuity, red necks acting like idiots. Easy Rider was a call to joints for an entire generation of lefties.”
Of course he was right; it was a lefty movie for the time. But being the conservative, I think the term David used was “prick,” I was at the time I argued my case anyway.
“Ok,” I said. “All good points. But what was the drug they smuggled into the US from Mexico? Cocaine- the ultimate yuppie party drug. Wall Street’s drug of choice, or at least was, though granted a decade later.”
“What are they riding? Indian motor cycles. How many bikers do you know with Teddy Kennedy bumper stickers on their helmets? Not many. Bikers generally skew right.”
“And the commune scene? Ok so they are dropping acid while tilling the ground but they are basically homesteading, a pretty conservative act.”
“What about arguably the most important scene in the movie when Jack Nicholson makes the case that most people fear individual freedom and that despite what people say free individuals are seen as the enemy by much of America. Hardly seems a liberal collectivist argument.”
And we went back and forth till the beer ran out. In the end we agreed that despite my very good arguments, Easy Rider was definitely not a conservative movie. But he conceded that it wasn’t really a liberal movie in the modern sense either. These guys were way too un-PC for 1990s liberals. They rode Indians for crying out loud.
As I watch Easy Rider again today, having heard that old Denis Hopper is now riding his Indian on the Highway to Heaven (we hope,) it strikes me that the movie is really a libertarian movie. Smoking dope, trying to get rich, riding a motorcycle without a helmet, yep pretty libertarian.
If you are a freedom loving individual, and you have not seen this movie yet, rent it tonight or download it to your computer. It’s a deeply interesting movie and a must for any “right wing hippie.”