The Wild One

“The truth is that The Wild One — despite an admittedly fictional treatment — was an inspired piece of film journalism. Instead of institutionalizing common knowledge, in the style of Time, it told a story that was only beginning to happen and which was inevitably influenced by the film. It gave the outlaws a lasting, romance-glazed image of themselves, a coherent reflection that only a very few had been able to find in a mirror, and it quickly became the bike rider’s answer to The Sun Also Rises. The image is not valid, but its wide acceptance can hardly be blamed on the movie. The Wild One was careful to distinguish between “good outlaws” and “bad outlaws,” but the people who were most influenced chose to identify with Brando instead of Lee Marvin whose role as the villain was a lot more true to life than Brando’s portrayal of the confused hero. They saw themselves as modern Robin Hoods … virile, inarticulate brutes whose good instincts got warped somewhere in the struggle for self-expression and who spent the rest of their violent lives seeking revenge on a world that done them wrong when they were young and defenseless.”

Hunter S. Thompson, “Hell’s Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs”, first published in 1966 by Random House.

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