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Hippie Culture in Film Industry

Autor:   •  August 9, 2017  •  2,148 Words (9 Pages)  •  240 Views

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hippies and represented to the audience within the films. The topic of drugs can be followed throughout the plot of ‘Easy Rider’; the movie actually starts with Billy and Wyatt buying drugs, reselling them and deciding on how to hide the money because a long way was ahead of them. The opening scene of the movie might establish the protagonists as outlaws and creates very negative picture of hippies. However, the drugs play an important role during the whole movie and are presented within several contexts.7 On the

5 Film Studies Essay, Easy Rider Movie Analysis, http://www.ukessays.com/essays/film-studies/easy- rider-movie-analysis-film-studies-essay.php, accessed December 22, 2014

6 Scott Miler, Inside Hair: Background and analysis

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other hand, in ‘Hair’ we clearly notice the purpose of drug using within the “Tribe”. During the hippie festival Claude is given a "special" joint, presumably LSD that is known to be a powerful hallucinogen. During the hallucinations he reveals all his fears and desires which in generally is the point of using drugs for hippies. Moreover, the hippies believed that drugs could assist in opening and expanding the mind, increasing its power and consciousness and by doing this opening the way to the greater understanding.8

Another important aspect is the expression of individuality through the clashes with traditional society and denying all the “traditional norms” of existence. It might well be connected with the “baby boomer” generation, whose children were growing up in the post-war world and had all the consumer goods they could think of. However, all the excessiveness was not able to satisfy their souls. Parents were desperately trying to teach their offspring conservative values as well as pushing them to colleges for better education. However, education at that time already was not about “good and wrong”, students learned to question everything and to form their own opinion. Liberal education that was so prestigious turned out to be useless because it taught no real work skills. While older generations had no options in choosing their future occupation and had to take over family businesses, younger generation had freedom and variety of choices, which proved to be overwhelming and confusing.9

Rejection by the society is following main heroes of ‘Easy Rider’ wherever they go during the whole film. When they meet a man called George (American Lawyer) in prison, he is able to tell that they have just arrived because they have still long hair. The reason for that is that in Texas in 1968 long hair was banned and everyone had to have their hair shaved off; this might well be a prototype of America taking away peoples freedom instead of giving it to the citizens. The next scene showing rejection, racism and homophobia happens in a café where everyone is Caucasian and hostile to Billy, Wyatt and George. Main heroes are automatically stereotyped by the local sheriff as “trouble makers”, Billy is referred to as “she” just because of his long hair. The offensive behavior from the local people’s side changes the image of American society from the “American

8 Scott Miler, Inside Hair: Background and analysis 9 Scott Miler, Inside Hair: Background and analysis

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dream” society in which everything is possible and achievable to the racist society that does not accept and tolerate other forms of American culture including the hippie culture.10

Sexual freedom is another inherent issue in hippie culture that is brilliantly introduced in both movies. Flirtatious conversations, sexual hints and a naked swim of Billy, Wyatt and two females from the commune in ‘Easy Rider’ as well as “sharing” one woman within a “Tribe” in ‘Hair’ portray the idea and the sense of sexual freedom. As a matter of fact, nudity was an essential part of the hippie culture; hippies were rejecting their parents’ sexual repressions and promoting openness, naturalism, spirituality, honesty and freedom. The sexuality and a body were treated as a gift and privilege, not as something “dirty” and shameful. Therefore, the naked body was regarded as something extremely beautiful, something to be celebrated and shown, not hidden.

The other important point of clashes and protests was the ideology of Vietnam War, which was regarded as unacceptable and senseless from the hippie society’s side. Many American soldiers were killed at combat and the worst part of it is that there was no clear purpose of their sacrifice. Therefore, the peace movement had begun in 1964 and later grew larger and stronger. People who took part in the movement were not only the hippies, but also many students and mothers who demanded to stop the U.S. intervention into the Vietnam War. The aspect of the American intervention plays a great role in ‘Hair’, one of the main heroes is about to leave America for Vietnam in order to join the U.S. army. Throughout the whole movie the “Tribe” is trying to persuade him that his sacrifice is not necessary; unfortunately, the events develop in the unexpected way and Berger is sent to the war instead of Claude. The dramatic end is following, Berger gets killed and his “Tribe” and other hippies gather together once again to protest the senseless bloodshed.

The final scenes in both movies brilliantly support the ideas of ‘Hair’ and ‘Easy Rider’. The movie ‘Hair’ is ended with Berger’s friends singing at his grave, followed by the shot of a large peace movement protest outside the White House in Washington, DC

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The last scene supports the main argument of the movie and symbolizes the awareness of people. Unfortunately, there is no happy end in ‘Easy Rider’ either where Billy gets shot off his bike by two Americans in a lorry followed by the death of Wyatt who is rushing for help and gets shot by the same lorry drivers. The reason for such a hostile behavior is nothing but their hippie appearance that made them alienated in the American society. It seems like even sometimes being ill behaved and neglecting all social laws and traditions, hippies were the only group within the American society who understood the threats of war and appreciated the sense of freedom.

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Bibliography:

Canby, Vincent, Hair (1979), Movie Review. The New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=EE05E7DF173BBE2CA7494CC3B679958C6896

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