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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 so forth.

A number of popular films have made tangential references to beat culture in their story lines. John Waters’ 1988 film Hairspray (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.