As we experience living through a pandemic, civil uprisings, and calls for social justice on a global scale, counterculture and youth movement as an outlet for self expression is more prevalent than ever. Looking through the lens of mid 20th-century style, culture, and social movement, it’s easy to see parallels to today.
When thinking of the term “counterculture”, a mental image of Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper in the film Easy Rider instantly materializes. At its core, Easy Rider is an examination of two very different versions of America that existed in 1969, and bears resemblance in many ways to the current zeitgeist.
The film follows Wyatt (Peter Fonda) and Billy (Dennis Hopper) as they travel through the Southern United States to Mardi Gras in New Orleans with the profits from a cocaine deal. Along the way, the pair find themselves ensconced in the socio-political landscape of the time.
Socially relevant themes aside, the biggest reason that Easy Rider’s impact has stood the test of time, is the undeniable style that Wyatt and Billy exude.
In contrast to the stereotypical hippie, Peter Fonda’s Wyatt sports a shaggy, textured mop-top with a distinctly English feel. He pairs leather motorcycle gear with more feminine accents like neck scarves and floral shirts. This turns heads of the local conservatives that the pair encounter on the ride to New Orleans.
Hopper’s Billy is much closer to what is often thought of as 1960’s counterculture style. Billy’s hair is naturally long and wild to match his persona, and his thick mustache and suede fringe jacket transform him into an updated Western anti-hero for the turbulent times.
One particularly memorable scene finds the pair walking through the French Quarter of New Orleans during Mardi Gras. People turn to stare. Fun fact: the folks fixated on the scene were not paid extras. They were everyday New Orleanians, reacting to the sight of Wyatt and Billy.
Since I became a fan of Easy Rider, Dennis Hopper’s Billy has been my hair-goals inspiration. Over the last year, I’ve finally let mine grow, only cutting shape in periodically to achieve a nice grow-out. During the process, Fellow Barber Mineral Spray keeps my hair looking gritty and piecey without damaging the hair or drying out my scalp.
For more Wyatt-esque mod-type looks, a product like Fellow Barber’s Styling cream can add moisture into the hair, while capturing that loose, natural look.
I’m forever inspired by Easy Rider’s message of individuality. Now more than ever, it’s important for all individuals to express themselves in productive and creative ways. That creative expression offers us the opportunity to better understand each other’s stories.
Easy Rider, the film, has an equally ground-breaking soundtrack. There’s a lyric by Jimi Hendrix that completely sums up the vibe, aesthetic, and impact of the film, and also serves as a beautiful message as we try to navigate everything going on around us in this currently uncertain world. “Let your freak flag fly.”