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Cool it daddio, your poetry's so hip it's melting my bongos!

"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, with women wearing leotards. We carry bongos, read edgy poetry and banned novels, and listen to modern Bebop jazz at smoky nightclubs. We try out marijuana and free love, dabble in avant-garde art, and discuss left-wing politics, Buddhism, and enlightenment. We were probably the badass of our time because we are so hip, but this isn't The '50s 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.


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  • 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 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.
  • One issue of Archie Comics has the characters acting like beatniks.
  • MAD Magazine frequently poked fun at beatniks, pointing out that structured nonconformity was a form of conformity itself. The "MAD Nonconformist" eschewed beatnik gear like berets and sweaters in favour of pith helmets and straitjackets.

    Fan Works 
  • Thaddeus Gammelthorpe [[W esternAnimation/Hey Arnold (aka, "Curly")]] adopts this kind of look as an adult—he's still pretty eccentric as an adult but has long since mellowed out from when he, Arnold and the rest of their old friends/classmates were in elementary school (he apparently had a bunch of counseling in middle and high school). Also as an adult, Thaddeus becomes an extremely successful artist/photographer—he also ends up marrying Rhondanote , with whom he has a daughter named Courtneynote .

    Film - Animated 
  • Lars, the spot-obsessed, German-esque artist that Cruella hooks up with in 101 Dalmatians II: 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.
  • The Cat Piano: Apart from the narration being recited as an epic beat poem, the city itself is also populated with them. Some cats can be seen wearing berets, playing the bongos, dancing to jazz music and the like. The narrator may be one as well, though his appearance is a bit more laid-back. Also, a rather prominent cat is sporting a beret, square-framed glasses, and sweater during several shots in the climax.
  • 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 (which the Giant treats as food). 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 
  • Avengers: Endgame: When the Avengers go back to 1970 to retrieve the Tesseract and additional Pym Particles, Tony Stark is mistaken for a beatnik by his own father because of his beard.
  • Pull My Daisy: The original beatniks—or rather The Beat Generation, with Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg co-starring in a short film written by Kerouac. Milo's wife actually calls them "beatniks" when she is upbraiding Milo for letting his beatnik friends ruin their fancy dinner with the bishop.
  • 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 Hairy Bird features a group of young male Beatniks who call themselves the Flat Critters, a name derived from their hobby of photographing roadkill.
  • 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.
  • Despite the title, The Beatniks (riffed on by an episode of MST3K) has absolutely nothing to do with beatniks. Apparently, the writers of that film believed that "beatnik" meant something along the lines of "delinquent" or "hoodlum".
  • In Down with Love, Barbara arrives at Catcher's apartment (which she thinks in Peter's) to find it full of beatniks that Peter had brought home from a coffeehouse following an unsuccessful date with Vicky.

  • 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. They are most prominent in The Education of Robert Nifkin and The Snarkout Boys and the Baconburg Horror, in which Rat develops a crush on a Beatnik poet.
  • 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 TV 
  • Denver from Angel
  • Maynard G Krebs, from The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, is the archetype for the stereotypical beatnik character in American popular culture.
  • Beatniks were portrayed for laughs on episodes of The Beverly Hillbillies, Make Room For Daddy (the long-running Danny Thomas sitcom) and, memorably, on Petticoat Junction — visiting an espresso shop in the city, Kate and the girls listen to recitations of surreal Beat poetry, and then Kate takes the stage and recites "Mairzy Doats" in the same solemn, intense style. She gets a standing ovation.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000 did a few episodes on late 50s/early 60s films that focused on Beatniks and vilified them as The New Rock & Roll: Daddy-O, The Rebel Set, and obviously The Beatniks. The latter even prompted Joel and the bots to do a sketch explaining why the protagonists of the film did not qualify as Beatniks.
    • Off Beat Cinema, a movie show in the same vein as Mystery Science Theater 3000, is hosted by three beatnik characters (Maxwell Truth, Bird the Painter, and The Mysterious Zelda) at the fictional Hungry Ear Coffeehouse.
  • The Puppet Band from Pee-wee's Playhouse are a Funny Animal Affectionate Parody of beatniks.
  • Steve Martin played a beatnik poet on a Saturday Night Live sketch.
  • The Optimists: Episode 9 of this Russian TV series opens in an extremely stereotypical 1960 beatnik cafe in New York. The beat poet who is performing on the stage is reciting the English translation of Pokrovsky's poem about Galya, which was printed in "The Village Voice". This starts off a whole story arc as a KGB man was in the audience, and the KGB starts investigating this forbidden literature that was smuggled to America.

  • During its early single-camera seasons Happy Days had Richie befriending the only beatniks in 1950s Milwaukee.

  • 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!"

    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. A drug dealer’s terminal even describes a regular Daddy-O customer as a “pretentious asshole”.
  • Manny the Mole in 102 Dalmatians: Puppies to the Rescue.

  • 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: AND POETRY

    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).
  • Beany and Cecil: Go Man Van Gogh, introduced in the short "The Wildman of Wildsville", is a Tarzan parody who acts like a beatnik. By the end of the short, the main cast has also joined Go Man in the groovy lifestyle, even having a beret, shades and goatee painted on them. "If you can't beatnik 'em, join 'em!" lampshades Cecil.
  • The Beatles: in "I Don't Want to Spoil the Party," Paul, George and Ringo sneak off to a beatnik party at a Greenwich Village coffee house. When John arrives looking for them, they disguise themselves as beatnik musicians.
    Ringo: We're more like Beatle-niks.
  • CatDog: In "Cat Gone Bad," CatDog's block gets overtaken by beatnik alley cats. Although the rule-abiding Cat denounces them at first, he soon gives into the urge to join them and gains a new irresponsible lease on life, as well as a beret, goatee, shades, and the nickname "Scat Cat." Dog once even refers to him as "Jack Cat-ouac."
  • 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.
  • Nick was a beatnik on Heap O'Calory's episodes of The Dick Tracy Show who would communicate tips of crimes in progress to Heap with bongo drums.
  • Bugle Beagle, in DuckTales (1987). His most notable appearances are in "Hero for Hire", "Time Teasers" and "Scroogerello".
  • Let's Go Luna!: The episode "Dig It Daddy-O" takes place in San Francisco and involves Andy getting involved in the local beatnik culture. It has all the typical beatnik tropes like sunglasses, berets, slam poetry, and the slang (ex: "square" as an insult towards boring people).
  • Looney Tunes:
    • The already out of trend "Cool Cat" from the late Looney Tunes shorts. He was made in the late 60's when Beatniks were more common in the late fifties. An obvious attempt to look in-touch with current fashions that failed spectacularly for being incredibly dated. He only appeared in 6 shorts and is mostly forgotten today.
    • The Foghorn Leghorn cartoon "Banty Raids" puts him against a Beatnik Bantam rooster, who serenades the chickens on his farm with rock n' roll music.
    • The "Three Little Bops," a standalone short from 1957 recasts the fairy tale pigs as a trio with the Big Bad Wolf ruining things by blowing his horn. Narrated by Stan Freberg, the short has a cool jazz score by Shorty Rogers. It also features an early example of someone tracing a "square" in the air with their fingers.
  • "Miceniks," a 1961 Paramount Modern Madcap, has three beatnik mice in a jam session at a beatnik music shop who use Karmic Trickster moves against a marauding cat.
    Micenik #1: (regarding the cat) Dig the cornball from Squaresville!
    Micenik #2: Strictly from anxiety!
  • Betty-Anne from The Off-Beats, a younger example, at about, um...eight to ten. Grubby Groo, also from The Off-Beats.
  • A Brodax-era Popeye the Sailor (TV Series) cartoon "Coffee House" had Olive adapting a beatnik lifestyle. She goes to a coffee house with Brutus, who has also gone beatnik reading poetry such as "Ode to an Onion." Popeye gets into the swing of things after eating "cultured" spinach.
  • One "Mr. Know-It-All" segment on Rocky and Bullwinkle is about how to be a beatnik.
  • Shaggy in Scooby-Doo is part this and part hippie, minimizing the usual beatnik stereotypes associated here.
  • Ned Flanders' parents from The Simpsons are, fittingly, the Flanderized version.
    Ned's Dad: Aw, maaaaan! Ned spilled ink all over my poems! He's a real flat tie! I mean, a cube, man! He's puttin' us on the train to Squaresville, Mona!
  • 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', Spongebob pitches 'The Kool Krab', and dons the look of a beatnik to go with the theme.
  • Ding Dong Daddy Teen Titans talks like he's from the 1950s, daddy-o.
  • Word of God says Jazz from Transformers: Animated was intended to sound like this.
  • Sketchpad's skits in Crashbox are beatnik-themed.
  • Time Squad had to help Leonardo Da Vinci turn away his beatnik phase, and get to painting the Mona Lisa.

    Real Life 
  • In the '60s Cleveland late-night horror/B-movie show Shock Theater, Ernie Anderson plays Ghoulardi, who wore a beatnik-esque costume and used "hip" talk, which differentiated him from other television personalities at the time.
  • Writer Daniel Pinkwater, who was an aspiring artist in New York and beatnik neighborhoods of Chicago in the early-mid Sixties, describes himself at the time as a beatnik.
  • Lord Buckley was a standup comedian who despite affecting a sort of posh British persona became famous for his hipster (not that kind but rather the proto-Beat) slang takes on historical or legendary events. Notably, he voiced Go Man Van Gogh for "The Wildman of Wildsville" (see Western Animation above).


Video Example(s):


Beany & Cecil: Go Man Van Gogh

A jungle variant of the usual beatnik stereotype.

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