Beatnik

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"Can you dig it?"
Cyrus, The Warriors

Hey there, daddy-o.

We're what you call Beatniks. Cool it, cool it, let me explain. You'll often see us wearing shady sunglasses, black sweaters and pants, a beret, sandals, and we'll sometimes carry bongos. We were probably the badass of our time because we are so hip, but this isn't the 1950s anymore, dig? So if you'll excuse me, I have to cut out now.

In the United States, Beatniks were the counter-culture movement par excellence of The '50s. Beginning in a cluster of coffeeshops and bookstoresnote  in San Francisco's North Beach district, the Beat movement eschewed cookie-cutter Fifties conformity and enforced happiness in favor of the lived, authentic experience.

The depiction of the Beatnik in popular culture was designed by their detractors, and is a Flanderization of the hangers-on who attached themselves to the Beat movement—essentially the hipsters of the 1950s.note  With this in mind, it's not surprising that none of the real members of The Beat Generation (a term coined by Jack Kerouac, meaning "beatific") actually conform to the Beatnik stereotype, but that might just be because Reality Is Unrealistic.

Examples!

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    Advertising 
  • Jake, the mascot of the Life is Good line of clothing.

    Comic Books 
  • In the early days of the X-Men, Iceman and the Beast liked to hang out at the Coffee-A-Go-Go, which catered to a stereotypical Beatnik crowd headed by Bernard the Poet. Many years later, in X-Men First Class Special #1 (2007), he would be revealed as - what else? - a latent mutant.
  • Johnny Beyond, a character from Alan Moore's 1963 comics, is a Beatnik version of Doctor Strange.
    • The Bouncing Beatnik, the Creeper Expy in Astro City. Both of these are based on Ditko characters due to the popularity his work had with the '60s counterculture.
  • A group of Beatniks showed up frequently in the comic series Madman as antagonists at first and later, allies.

    Film - Animated 
  • Lars, the spot-obsessed, German-esque artist that Cruella hooks up with in 101 Dalmatians 2: Patch's London Adventure, was initially a stereotypical, eccentric beatnik, until near the end of the film when we find out he's capable of being a hyperactive animal-lover.
  • Beret Girl from An Extremely Goofy Movie, who is introduced performing slam poetry at a coffee house. Her behavior rubbed off on her boyfriend, PJ, too, after his combination between a Hidden Depths reveal, successfully being caught by her, and massive Character Development.
  • Dean from The Iron Giant. He runs a junkyard, but spends his free time making sculptures out of scrap. He listens to jazz and drinks espresso, but dresses more like a greaser than a stereotypical Beatnik. Kent Mansley even calls him a Beatnik, disparagingly.
  • The Incredibles DVD includes a bonus feature "The Adventures of Mr. Incredible and Friends," a poorly done cartoon featuring Mr. Incredible and Frozone—who is lighter skinned than he really is, and speaks in a forced 'hip' manner. On the commentary track, Frozone complains that he sounds like a beatnik.

    Film - Live Action 

    Literature 
  • Suzuki Beane, a book really intended for an adult readership, but formatted like a children's book, is by Sandra Scoppettone, with illustrations by Louise Fitzhugh, and is the first-person story of the Greenwich Village life of the small daughter of two beatniks. It's a subtle parody of Eloise, but works as a stand-alone piece, and before the live-action Eloise film a few years ago, was probably better known.
  • Beatniks regularly appear as background characters in Daniel Pinkwater's novels, many of which are set in The '50s.
  • Several Beatniks appear in A World of Laughter, a World of Tears, in which they have to cope with persecution from the even more culturally repressive and paranoid Fifties United States of that timeline.

    Live-Action Television 

    Video Games 
  • In Grim Fandango, there's a beatnik bar called the Blue Casket containing some very hip skeletons. Manny can get up on stage and read seemingly random poetry to them. He also refers to them as 'Deadbeats'.
  • Jeb, the Mechanical Beatnik, is one of the minigames you can fiddle with in Total Distortion. If you use him, he spouts completely random words in a rhythmic fashion in a parody of beat poetry. The best part is he comes with a warning label.
  • In Fallout 4 it is possible to find a drug called Daddy-O, which raises Intelligence and Perception, but lowers Charisma.
  • Manny the Mole in 102 Dalmatians: Puppies to the Rescue.

    Webcomics 
  • Spigot from Jerkcity, albeit only in appearance. His official Leitmotif is cool jazz, he smokes a lot of weed, he once informs Pants that 'A "KEY" IS BEATNIK FOR "MARIJUANA JOINT"', and he does occasionally read poetry, but like all characters in the strip he's far more likely to be seen shouting obscene homoerotic gibberish about dongs.
    spigot: I EXPRESS MY ANGER THROUGH MY POTTERY
    spigot: AND POETRY
    spigot: AND COCKSUCKING
    spigot: HRLUB HLRUHBGLURHL BUHRLUB HLURHBLUR PRICKS ON THE WHEEL

    Toys 
  • There were numerous beatnik dolls, most notably Mattel's Scooba-Doo — pull her string and she says eleven hip phrases, including "Play it cool, don't be a square!" and "I dig that crazy beat, yeah!"

    Web Video 

    Western Animation 
  • In The Alvin Show's musical segment for "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star," Alvin dresses as one in order to attempt a rock and roll version of the song (much to Dave's annoyance).
  • Animaniacs: And now, Dot's Poetry Corner (a recurring segment of the first two seasons; in the short segment, Dot recites her own interpretations of nursery rhymes or well-known poems at a coffee shop).
  • Go Man Van Gogh, a combination wild man/beatnik stereotype in Bob Clampett's Beany and Cecil cartoons (most notably Go Man's debut episode, "The Wildman of Wildsville."
  • Lester of the Coolman! shorts. Only in his imagination.
  • Sam's grandmother from Danny Phantom was one in her youth, therefore being more accommodating to Sam's Eco-Goth ways than her parents who are a pair of '50s-esque Stepford Smilers.
  • Bugle Beagle, in DuckTales. His most notable appearances are in "Hero for Hire", "Time Teasers" and "Scroogerello".
  • Looney Tunes:
  • Betty-Anne from The Off-Beats, a younger example, at about, um...eight to ten. Grubby Groo, also from The Off-Beats.
  • Shaggy in Scooby-Doo is part this and part hippie, minimizing the usual beatnik stereotypes associated here.
    • Not surprising, since he started as an Expy of Maynard G. Krebs.
  • Ned Flanders' parents from The Simpsons.
    "We've tried nothin' and we're all out of ideas!"
  • In an episode of Spongebob Squarepants, Pearl, Mr. Krabs' daughter, tries redesigning the Krusty Krab to be more 'hip' with the young crowd. Spongebob tries helping her come up with a new name for the restaurant, and alongside 'The Kowboy Krab', 'The King Krab', and 'the Kandy Krab', Songebob pitches 'The Kool Krab', and dons the look of a beatnik to go with the theme.[1]
  • Word of God says Jazz from Transformers Animated was intended to sound like this.
  • Sketchpad's skits in Crashbox are beatnik-themed.

    Real Life 
  • Ghoulardi, host of early '60s Cleveland late-night horror/B-movie show Shock Theater.


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