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Beatnik

"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 Fifties. 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. 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!

    open/close all folders 

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

    Comic Books 
  • 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 

    Film - Live Action 
  • A Bucket of Blood is a horror comedy by Roger Corman that wasn't as successful as Little Shop of Horrors, but it's a great beatnik movie, made in 1959, with the beatnik setting unselfconscious and authentic, since it's the present day.
  • The Fred Astaire / Audrey Hepburn movie Funny Face.
  • A short diversion in the original Hairspray has the kids ducking into a pair of beatniks' apartment / studio briefly with much trepidation. At the suggestion "lets get naked and smoke," they decide to leave.
  • The bartender in The Hudsucker Proxy, who says "martinis are for squares, man."
  • Kill Your Darlings centers around the leaders of the Beatnik movement before they were famous.
  • Mike Myers' character Charlie in So I Married an Axe Murderer doing beatnik poetry in a cafe.
  • The movie The Beatniks (riffed on by an episode of MST3K) has absolutely nothing to do with beatniks.

    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 Fifties.
  • 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.

    Webcomics 
  • Spigot from Jerkcity, albeit only in appearance.

    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.
  • 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. [1]
  • 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.
  • Judy from Doug
  • The late 1960s Looney Tunes character Cool Cat was this.
  • Betty-Anne from The Off-Beats, a younger example, at about, um...eight to ten
    • Grubby Groo, also from The Off-Beats. Oh, so much.
  • Shaggy in Scooby-Doo is part this and part hippie, minimizing the usual beatnik stereotypes associated here.
  • Ned Flanders' parents from The Simpsons.
    "We tried nothin' and nothin' worked!"
  • Word of God says Jazz from Transformers Animated was intended to sound like this.

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


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