Dennis Hopper and the Counterculture

George Pitcher was scathing recently about the work of Dennis Hopper (deceased) and his role as a totem for the Counterculture. Pitcher comments:
Hopper evidently really did believe in the power of hippies and might even have thought he was one. And that was just crass. 
The piece more or less tries to demolish the whole ethos of that small window of hope between the Summer of Love and Altamont.

I am not sure what Pitcher means by believing in "the power of hippies" but he thinks the era was "a cheap con-trick perpetrated on us in the Sixties largely by spivs and hucksters".

To some extent I can go along with this. Wherever hippies congregated, there were some lowlifes there to rip them off. There were plenty who were only in it for the money. But there were plenty who were not. Of course, there was drugs. Drugs permeated all things hippie. Drugs perpetuated a delusion and either you left them behind, or they left you behind. I knew people who killed themselves in the 60's with drugs. One day they were there spouting love and peace, inhaling the best Red Leb, the next  they were inhaling their own sick.

But for all that, there was something good. For a while, some of us tried to imagine a world without war, a world of sharing, without greed and a desperate sense of ownership as identity.

It is difficult to fight if you are mellowed out by a joint, which is probably why the Americans were so shit in Vietnam.

The counterculture was about challenging the status quo. People were suspicious about those in authority; that they were not to be trusted. The counterculture said we were being told lies. Gee, they were way off beam there, those dirty hippies, weren't they?
So ok, maybe Easy Rider was a bit Hollywood and a bit fey, but it was informed by the zeitgeist and appealed to all of us that just want to step off the bus  and who above all wanted the truth and ride a ride a fecking cool motorcycle.


Spartan said...

Oh the irony. George spouts his scorn on the hippy counterculture and how many became rich through it and all it's peace and love was totally false.

But wait, isn't George a priest? wasn't Jesus head of a counterculture advocating peace and love? Didn't the heads of christianity become rich, powerful etc etc. Aren't they still doing the same today?

George is exactly what he accuses Dennis of being!

Richard said...

I was never into the chopper thing, but Easy Rider was a life-changing movie: the road, the freedom, the companionship, the autonomy. It's still with me today. I sometimes even sing to myself when I start the bike up: Getcha motor runnin' ...

Smoking Hot said...

Richard ... l agree on the choppers. Once was in USA and stayed with a CEO l was dealing with. He had 2 Harley choppers that were in shows. One was called 'James Dean' and won many shows, extended forks, chrome everywhere, great paint job etc etc. Went out on them and he allowed me to ride the James Dean one ... what an absolute pig to ride. Worst was cornering ... the bloody footpegs caught at virtually every given opportunity ... nightmare! It looked fantastic though but you couldn't live with it .... hmmmm, what else could l apply that too? :)

Strange how Steppenwolf drifts into one's senses :)

lncidentally, did you know all the tracks were freely given for the movie ... oh how things have changed!

Richard said...

No, I didn't know that. Sign of the (counter-cultural) times, I guess.

At the time, I thought DH was much less cool than Fonda. After all, what were those silly drag bars doing when PF had the full ape-hangers? And that fringed jacket? Now, of course, I know that Hopper's bike was the really cool one.

Moving away from Easy Rider, my abiding memory of Hopper was his gangster role in Blue Velvet. I've never seen such menace and dysfunction. Not a lot of range, but brilliant at what he did.

Clams Linguini said...

You know, even the craziest wise-guy aint really like that. They keep a sense of humour. Take Gaspipe. Nobody was meaner than Gaspipe.

Anyways, Gaspipe orders this real fancy, real expensive, 100 times a waiter's pay in a twenty years, million year old champagne from this stiff of a waiter. The waiter pours it all nice and careful so it don't fizz up too much. Then Gaspipe whips out a can of seven-up and pours that on top.

See? Now that's funny.