|Other Links to Beat Culture:
The artists and filmmakers of the Beat
Generation have made a lasting impression on the mainstream entertainment
industry as well on the independent filmmakers. This impression is noticeable
in some films and television shows that simply made references to beat
culture, and in others that somewhat embodied the spirit and sensibility
of the Beats.
Two television shows debuted in 1959 (during
the height of the Beat explosion) that made distinct references to beat
culture. The CBS series The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis introduced
Maynard G. Krebs as a stereotypical beatnik and the oddball of the show.
The only beat characteristics Maynard had were in his appearance (he sported
a goatee, a floppy sweatshirt, and shaggy hair), his speech (casual in
tone ? his favorite word was “like”), and his self-proclaimed interests
in jazz and hatred of work.
NBC’s Staccato presented its audience
with a crime-busting detective who showed distinct Beat characteristics
and tendencies (bound up with jazz, creativity, Greenwich Village subculture).
This show posed the idea that one can work and play within the boundaries
of both worlds; the protagonist demonstrates this by his seemingly contradictory
interests and qualities: “detective work/music playing, physical toughness/artistic
sensitivity, financial success/bohemian surroundings” (Sterritt 170) and
A number of popular films have made tangential
references to beat culture in their story lines. John Waters’ 1988 film
(set in 1960s Baltimore) portrays a group of “squares” that walk into a
beatnik’s house; when the beatniks start reading poetry aloud, the squares
are scared away. The 1993 film So I Married An Ax Murder (Thomas
Schlamme) also makes some strong connections to beat culture in a couple
of scenes. These scenes, set in a dimly lit coffee house, show the main
character (played by Mike Meyers) reciting bop poetry, with jazz playing
in the background.
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Copyright 2000 MikeHarpring.