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


Mark Stricherz


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