In Easy Rider

In Easy Rider, the scene where Peter Fonda asks Dennis Hopper if he’s ever wanted to be anyone else, and Dennis Hopper says glibly, “Daffy Duck,” and Peter Fonda says, “Not me man, I’ve never wanted to be anyone but me.” Or, something to that effect.

For that generation, it was the first time such a large group of people coming of age had the opportunity to be many different things. The ones who survived the 60s and 70s became yuppies who wanted to die with the most toys. You could have been a rocker, stoner, junkie, pool shark, traveler, hippie, and a middle manager of a large corporation–if your parents had the means and you had the will to stay alive and keep moving.

For my generation, we were the first generation where our parents could decide via the pill and legalized abortion whether they wanted us or not. It didn’t always work that way, of course, but many of us came of age as “starter children” to parents who would go on to have millennial younger siblings that received more attention and focus so they could succeed in school and life. These are, of course, broad strokes. Gen X came of age with computers that didn’t do much of anything and anyone serious about making movies needed access to a lot of expensive film. There was electronic music, but anyone who wanted to be a computer DJ would have to wait until processor speeds caught up and chips got small enough so you could tote around your DJ lab in your laptop.

The so-called millennial generation looks a lot more like the Baby Boomer generation in a lot of ways–but one way is how the technology came into their hands–mass-marketed consumer technology to make music and art and film seemed to arrive in a first wave in the sixties, and the Gen X generation mostly worked with improvements on it. Video wasn’t really a viable medium for serious storytelling until the digital format caught up, became HD, and techniques and tools became widely available to make video look less like video.

But, the principle still applies–the amount of time you have on your hands to become anyone you want to be is limited. If you have too many disparate things you want to do and be, you may very well end up being none of them.

I certainly strive to live with very little as I generally see most of the really nice things I would want to have being out of the reach of my paycheck and my current lifestyle as a father. The thought of owning a muscle car, a motorcycle and being able to pack up a truck and go camping when I feel like it is highly appealing, but it probably won’t happen in this lifetime.

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