Remembering Peter Fonda, Indie Revolutionary and Counterculture Icon (Column)

  • Variety
Captain America has died. Not the spandex-clad Marvel superhero, but counterculture poster boy Peter Fonda, who shook up Hollywood and revolutionized the country’s sense of itself by co-writing, producing and starring in “Easy Rider” 50 years ago this summer — the same summer depicted in Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood.”

Culture was changing fast in 1969. Though Tarantino was hard on the hippies, “Easy Rider” — an existential biker picture in which Fonda’s Wyatt, with Dennis Hopper as wingman Billy, motors coast to coast with the Stars and Stripes on his back and drug money stashed in his shiny red, white and blue gas tank — was the first film to represent the younger generation’s anti-establishment attitudes, and its success pointed the way for the independent cinema movement that followed. The actors rejected mainstream values, struck out on their own and smoked actual pot on camera; rather than judging them for it,
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