In Popular Culture

Possibly inherited from the romantic image of the lonesome cowboy riding his faithful horse towards the sunset, the image of the biker has always been connected to a sense of independence from the establishment and their imposed rules. Almost as if riding a bike would open a door to a parallel universe with no bonds, expectations or commitments, where everyone can be just themselves.

Although not an accurate portrait, this is the image popular culture has engraved in society through the many means at its disposal. Easily found in movies, motorcycles and their riders are often inaccurately depicted.

A version of the hero rider is given in “Ghost Rider”, a Marvel creation that transcended comic books and made it to a couple of TV series and to the big screen. The main character, Johnny Blaze, has made a pact with Satan, giving his soul in change of some earthly benefit. He comes across as a victim of his own personal choices, doomed to ride his bike for eternity, but the story always hints at the goodness underlying his dubious behaviour.

Another stereotype has been shaped by Marlon Brando in his movie “The Wild One”. His character is an unruly biker, prone to trouble, unrest and violence, who gets involved in some tragic situations and comes out of them in one piece, but not untouched. The end of the movie leaves plenty of room for interpretations as well, thus cementing the aura of unpredictability of the bikers.

Also in more recent classics like “Top Gun” or “Terminator”, the use of a motorbike by the protagonists implies the sense of liberty and immunity towards their foes, being more physical on the former and mental on the latter.

In another action-packed film “Mad Max”, bikes are symbolic as an ultimate freedom ride, albeit always associated with high speed, violence and the fight for justice.