The power of Film in Modern American Culture

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The power of film is immense in modern American culture. The symbols and identity’s created in these films has proven to possess a lasting impact shaping in new cultures. Film has not failed to accomplish this using the motorcycle. Although a controversial image the motorcycle possesses a strong identity of freedom and brotherhood creating an individual counterculture. The freedom represented by the motorcycle contradicts previous connotations and transforms our definition of freedom. The motorcycle also provides a cultural identity of rebellion and brotherhood. Film has contributed greatly to creation of the motorcycle identity and has not failed to capitalize on the power symbolism the motorcycle represents. In many cases film created the motorcycle image we think of today. The 1946 film The Wild One is widely considered the archetype for modern motorcycle film and culture. The movie portrays a rebellious protagonist that consistently goes against the grain of society. This is the first time that the motorcycle is accompanied with the rebellious connotation of a counter culture movement. This is an image that has since stayed with the motorcycle. An example of this is when Mildred ask Johnny, the insubordinate protagonist what he’s rebelling against. Johnny responds with “whadda you got?” this is a powerful quote in which director Laslo Benedek summarized his interpretation of this new motorcycle counter culture. This identity of reckless anarchists took off and became the widely accepted as the motorcycle identity. The Wild One came out in a time of rapidly accepted conformity, and provided an outlet to individuals seeking and individual identity. This is a “Hipster” identity that many bikers in the 1940s emulated from Afric... ... middle of paper ... how powerful of a symbol it has become. You wouldn’t consider the fact that someone drives a Honda Accord a defining characteristic of his or her identity but somehow that changes when it becomes a Harley Davidson Heritage Softtail. "Four wheels move the body two wheels move the sole" (Harley Davidson Ad/ 1992). It becomes clear that the motorcycle is much more than a vehicle; it is a manifestation of American values. When you break it down nothing seems more American that freedom, and brotherhood. Film has fully capitalized on these characteristics helping make the motorcycle a powerful image that has had a defining impact on American culture. Works Cited Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1925. How to grow a band. Dir . Mark Meatto . Perf . Chris Thile, 2011 . Film.
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