Counter culture will always be an important aspect of society. There will continually be minorities and grass root groups who want equal treatment and recognition. Easy Rider highlights the LSD, hippy, free-loving culture of the sixties. Captain America and Billy were living their lives freely. Their freedom scared the traditional culture, evident through their interactions with all other groups. They conformed to the farm family by removing hats and praying before they broke bread. That family was free in the traditional manner; they lived off the land, had strong religious convictions, and supported one another. Juxtaposed next to the freedom of the members of the new wave of drug-taking, motorcycle riders, the traditional freedom seemed still a bit confining. The members of the family were dependent on one another and stuck at their farm. Captain America and Billy were able to move as they pleased. There was an amazing sense of community and collectiveness throughout the movie up until the parade scene. They had places to eat, fix their motorcycle, and stay. Everyone watched them because they were interesting; for some of the movie, they were met with smiles and waves and for the rest with hostility.
The entire movie mimicked the journey of any counter culture at any time. Once they grow strong enough, the majority gets scared and defends tradition with anything necessary. The tragic ending of the three riders, Captain America, Billy, and the lawyer, is a result of traditionalists defending their beliefs. African Americans, gays, and all counter cultures are faced with this abuse. There are people like Matthew Shepard who are killed because they threaten others' beliefs. It’s scary that human nature is so evil that a man could kill another because of the ideal he represents. What does this say about American freedom? You are allowed to be free as long as freedom conforms to the American idea of free. Religion without intelligence is dangerous because to appeal to someone who will internalize whatever they are told leads to misunderstanding. A man riding through a small, southern town with long hair on a motorcycle causes such unfounded hatred in all these towns. The men in there are not at all practicing the Christian values on which their town likely relies; however, this is consistent with where we are today in small towns. The attitude in these Southern towns is “this is how we have always done it; so, it’s right.”
The gay and lesbian movement was an offshoot of this hippie turned activist movement. The Stonewall Riots occurred in 1969 fueled by the environment of rebellion and the necessity to fight for equality. The environment of equality and free love that the sixties created was a great opportunity for other groups, like gays and lesbians, to join in on the fight. Unsuprisingly, many of the places where these hippy movements began, New York, San Francisco, and Vermont, have been the first to advance LGBTQ rights. Counter cultures feed off one another and create environments conducive to change.