The High Life and High Times of Terry Southern

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A 1969 still from Columbia Pictures' "Easy Rider"

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Southern's ideas live on - in print, in the movies he wrote, and, strangest of all, in the culture at large. As time moves on, it becomes clearer and clearer that he understood all too well the directions in which American society was headed. In "Easy Rider," (1969) he anticipated the violent events (Altamont, Kent State) that blunted the idealism of the "love generation"; "Dr. Strangelove" (1964) was repeatedly cited by columnists writing about the Nixon administration (Henry Kissinger in particular was often compared to the good doctor); Guy Grand was definitely a forerunner of today's eccentric millionaires - H. Ross Perot, Ted Turner, and that guy who paid millions to accompany the Russians into outer space; Candy Christian can be seen on daytime talk shows in the form of those young women who talk about the bloodthirsty serial killer they intend on marrying - "charitable" lasses indeed. From "The Jerry Springer Show" to the Supreme Court "selection" of the current President, one doubts that Southern would be a bit surprised at a single contemporary occurrence. Perhaps sociologists should pay more attention to those silly "satirists," after all....

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