Spoiler Alert: Robert De Niro and Peter Fonda have ruined two favorite movies for me

You can call this a “spoiler alert.” The recent utterances of a couple of Hollywood actors have spoiled two of my favorite movies for me.

First it was Robert De Niro (now known as “Punchy”) who robbed me of my enjoyment of one of my favorite films, Taxi Driver, by showing us that in his real-life persona he’s even more of a lunatic than Travis Bickle, the disturbed character he played in that movie.

And now it’s Peter Fonda, managing to take away my enjoyment of a film that was an anthem of my generation, Easy Rider. In case you haven’t heard, Peter Fonda publicly called for horrendous things to be done to President Trump’s 12-year old son, Barron, in addition to referring to the president with the same type of latrine-mouth vitriol that De Niro so enjoys spewing.

Fonda has since issued an apology and withdrawn the vulgar comments and threats. Although the agency charged with protecting the president and his family has not officially commented, it’s speculated that Fonda’s apology just may have been inspired by the Secret Service having “a little talk” with him.

But that apology won’t keep me from seeing Peter Fonda in a different light now than I’ve seen him in for all these years since he starred in that iconic film. Maybe he never thought of Easy Rider the way I did, as a celebration of America and its beauty and its freedoms, even as it exposed some of the country’s ugliest flaws.

Maybe he forgot that his character, “Wyatt”, called himself “Captain America” and that his motorcycle’s gas tank and his helmet were painted in an American flag motif. Maybe he never appreciated the contrast between himself as “Captain America” and his sister as “Hanoi Jane”, who gave aid and comfort to our enemy as she sat on a North Vietnamese anti-aircraft gun and advocated for American planes to be shot down. At least her brother didn’t seem to share her hatred for this country. At least, not until now. Now he seems to want to jump on that already-too-crowded Hate Trump/Hate America bandwagon.

Because nowadays, for me at least, it’s difficult to see anyone so consumed with hatred for Donald Trump as not simultaneously harboring a hatred for the United States itself. And maybe that’s at the root of Trump Derangement Syndrome: perhaps one reason that Trump is so hated is that he’s never been suspected of having anything but love for this country. And yet the more good he does for this country – in terms of our economy, unemployment, diplomacy and foreign relations – the harder they work to find things to condemn him for.

One way or another, Peter Fonda’s latest antics have sure spoiled Easy Rider for me, a film that, like Taxi Driver, I’d watched umpteen times and thought I’d never tire of seeing again.

Hate corrodes even art itself.

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