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Day Two, Easy Rider

writing2 min read

i watched 'easy rider', a 1969 film in which 'Two counterculture bikers travel from Los Angeles to New Orleans in search of America.' i'm not sure what time period this takes place in, but i'm gonna assume 1969.

i heard about the movie because of a local exhibition of movie posters featuring films that were produced in louisiana. i just learned how to ride a motorcycle, so easy rider caught my eye, and i especially liked how the filming of the movie itself was cavalier and 'easy riding' — the crew set off from los angeles with a script and played it by ear into new orleans, using local extras. they didn't even film during mardi gras — all of the shots of mardi gras are spliced in, hilariously.

as an art project, i like this a lot, but as a movie it was pretty ok. memorable effects include a dope soundtrack of classics, minutes-long motorcycle-across-america montages, and a bizarre transition sequence where flashes of the next scene forced themselves into the ending of the current scene until the scene had sufficiently changed. sometimes (frequently?) those transitions were from night scenes to daylight scenes and i fucking hate when movies hit you with sharp brightness changes. thank the lord (and that's a theme) that i didn't see this in theaters or i'd be seeing spots for hours

spoilers below

the main thing i'm still thinking about is the senselessness of the violence our duo experiences. as they transition east from LA, they're first looked at by the locals, then brutally attacked in their sleep, and finally murdered by a passing truck in the final scene, all for being visible outsiders. what's fun about watching this movie in 2020 is that their distinctive outsider qualities were having long hair, smoking weed, and riding motorcycles, all pretty normie things to do in 2020. in 1969 louisiana all it takes to be murdered on the roadside is to give the bird to a passing truck threatening you with a shotgun.

i'm finding it hard to have strong opinions and write them down. traditionally i've avoided having hardline opinions on anything because — imo — hardline opinions are usually wrong; the world is generally too nuanced for a binary to truthfully exist. even now, i feel the need to pepper that sentence with 'usually' and 'generally'—there's always a counterpoint.

re: the movie, though: i felt triggered by the senseless violence (especially because the violence was done to an archetype i passingly identify with and by an archetype i traditionally don't respect). it's one of those feelings where you feel strangled by your lack of control — man versus the environment. here, the environment is the system, 'the man', and the society that produces the people our duo interacts with. you can't help but feel it wrong, crude, senseless, small, naive, and disgusting. watching the second have of this movie is like going to the dmv. it's like doing taxes. it's like getting detention in high school for doing the right thing.

that's all i've got