Is “Easy Rider” a Catholic Film?

The late Dennis Hopper’s film is associated of course with the counter culture; in fact, in the 1970s it inspired a bunch of movies that did not exactly uphold the values of traditional morality and the Establishment. Now, or a few weeks ago at least, conservative commenters say that all along the film has been misunderstood. It’s not counter cultural; it’s conservative.

Yeah, maybe; I’m not convinced. The one scene that sticks with me is when Peter Fonda and Hopper’s character share a meal with a large, happy Catholic family. In 1969, the scene was the equivalent of telling Paul R. Ehrlich to go to hell.  In addition, the movie has several references to Catholic culture and spirituality in which the counter-cultural’s values don’t come across nearly as well. Think the bad trip scene in the New Orleans cemetery.

For an expanded version of my argument, check out my post over at TrueSlant.com.

Mark Stricherz

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Mark Stricherz is the author of Why the Democrats Are Blue: Secular Liberalism and the Decline of the People's Party.

  • georgie-ann

    i can’t imagine why you posted that video,…

  • Mark Stricherz

    Well, the scene is of a bad acid trip, not a good one, and contains Catholic imagery. Which scene would you have chosen?

  • georgie-ann

    i never saw the film,…but i don’t consider this video to be anything but a desecration of a Catholic cemetery,…you found something redeeming in it?

  • Mark Stricherz

    The cemetery comes across a lot better than the druggies. That’s the only thing redeeming about the scene. For the record, I did not enjoy watching “Easy Rider,” although the music was excellent. I just thought the idea that the movie had Catholic elements is interesting.

  • georgie-ann

    i’m torn between thinking that the people who make films like this are using a “supposedly artistic” story line as an excuse to make visual desecrations of sacred things,…that publicly violating holiness is much more their aim, than the “excuse” of a convenient plot line to do so,…

    or,…saying–be that as it may–sacred objects and spaces have the potential visually to capture the attention of anyone, even unbelievers, and at some level communicate something of their essence, or trigger some questioning and awareness, perhaps subliminally,…so maybe the “trade-off”–as a risk to expose the unexposed to the impression of some holy images–could be marginally “worthwhile,”…

    but,…i think the percentage of the pagans exposed in this manner to the effect of the deliberate and disrespectful desecration of holy scenes, who would internalize anything even marginally subliminally positive from the experience, is probably so small as to be insignificant in comparison to the gross insult committed in the first place,…

    it’s certainly not setting a good example of anything,…

  • Drago

    So I refrain from a public expressing an opinion about it.

  • georgie-ann

    my comment is about the video here, a part of said movie,…it’s quite gross, and i have NO problem commenting about it,…

  • C.

    Next time, please warn about R-rated scenes like this with nudity, graphic depictions of sexual intercourse, drug and alcohol abuse, desecration of cemeteries, etc. Frankly, I’m surprised Youtube allows the scene.

    Should parents block their kids from viewing insidecatholic.com?

  • EK Pavlat

    I’d put this under Category 6, superficially Christian, or even 7, pseudo-Christian. The imagery is there, but it isn’t redemptive.

    –Eric Pavlat

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