Monday, July 04, 2005

“You know, Billy, we blew it.”

The Movie: Easy Rider, 1969 (Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, and Terry Southern, screenwriters; Dennis Hopper, dir.)
Who says it: Peter Fonda as Wyatt, aka Captain America, a biker-turned-drug dealer
The context: Wyatt tells his partner, Billy (Dennis Hopper) that they have squandered their dream of finding “the real America,” even though they’ve made big money from a drug deal.
How to use it: To mourn a missed opportunity.

Using this quotation today feels like a cheap shot, but I never claimed to be above cheap shots. I feel impatient with the idea of a "real America," anyway. The point of the United States is that each American gets to create his own country.

At the risk of calling down major grief, I'll say I don't think much of this movie, either. Maybe it's generational, but I've never thought this movie was especially entertaining; it's slow, self-indulgent, self-congratulatory and kind of dumb. Great images, though, and an undeniable bit of cultural history.

I ground my teeth in my sleep last night -- my usual signal of extreme sleep deprivation -- and woke up with my jaw in spasm, so forgive me for this morning's crankiness. And happy birthday today to John Erath, a true patriot and my role model for all things curmudgeonly.

Happy 4th of July, everybody. Make your own fireworks.


JJ said...

Take a film like Casablanca which is firmly rooted in a particular time and the zeiteist of that period and yet it travels pretty well. I'd say 85% of it still works -- I usually fast forward through the series of Paris flashbacks.

On the other hand, this movie, similarly rooted in a specific period and mentality doesn't travel at all. But then so many of the ideas and artifacts of the 60s are proving to be equally ephemeral.

Bob Eckery said...

ephemeral?? a lot of the most timeless music every made came from the 60s.