Ever heard of Shaggy and Scooby from the hit TV cartoon? Well did you know that Shaggy was the portrait of people in the 1950s and 1960s? 1950s; sex, drugs, and Rock n Roll. Rock n Roll played such an important in American society in the 1950s, however, it wasn’t the only impactful part of this era. Rock n Roll wasn’t the only type of revolution who broke all rules about music in society, the Beatnik movement did exactly this. The Beatnik movement inspired so many artists to create the music that they wanted to create, without being judged by each and every person. This movement changed the sound of music from tradition. During the Beatnik movement, many new artists were able to freely express themselves with their art which challenged the traditional literary and musical works by changing the ways that these art forms sounded and which topics were discussed.
For many years, songs had a very distinct message, or sound, but as soon as the beatnik movement came upon everyone, those ideals were challenged. Suddenly, the artists who were involved in the Beatnik movement were able to write songs or poems about topics that were not acceptable previously. They challenged the traditional orthodox relationship; couples no longer had to just be men and women. The Beatnik revolution inspired many to experiment with their sexuality in a way that wouldn’t get them shunned by every person. During the time of the Beatnik revolution, WW2 was just ending, along with the red scare, and people had a mindset that they had to conform to society no matter what, but the Beats turned this idea around. The Beats experimented with drugs, sexuality, religious cultures, rejected materialism, and made new forms of expression accepted.
Because of the era of war that had just passed over the world, and the constant fear of nuclear annihilation hungover everyone’s heads, people didn’t want to challenge society. People didn’t know how to express themselves, until the Beats came around. The Beats expressed a new form of music, which challenged just about every single thing that they could; the rhythm, the message, the use of drugs and sex. As the Beatniks were a new wave of talented musicians that didn’t want to conform to society, many people started listening to their music. The Beatniks not only had an impact on music, but also poems. Their poems that were written were later turned into popular music that would be listened to for many years to come. The Beats introduced so many influential artists, who are still changing our society today; Bob Dylan, Allen Ginsberg, Ken Kesey, and the Beatles. The people of society were now listening to their music, and reading their poems, and expressing themselves in a way that hadn’t really ever been done before, and people liked doing it. At this point in history, conforming to the orthodox ideals of society wasn’t a must. This was a time in which people branched out and created forms of art that we not accepted before, and made these new art forms popular for time to come. Not only did the Beatnik revolution challenged the orthodox sound of music and other art forms, but the Beatnik revolution also were able to express themselves more freely in society. Being gay or bisexual wasn’t as big of a deal as it had been in the past. People smoked weed and did other drugs, such as LSD, and it wasn’t an abnormal thing. The Beatnik movement led a new wave though society and changed the way people thought. People were not as discriminatory towards gays or lesbians, or anyone else who didn’t fit into the cookie cutter form of society at the time. The Beatniks and many other people challenged the norms of society and changed them for good. “Many beatniks experimented with Eastern religion and philosophy, leading to ideas such as “make love, not war” and a new attitude towards different sexuality and more freedom of expression. More hippies equaled more bisexual or homosexual movements, leading to today’s more open and accepting community”(AP Comp). This era not only brought new forms of art, but also a new way to look at society. Relationships didn’t have to just be a man and a woman, and this was accepted by many. This era sprouted gay and lesbians movements all over the country, which paved the way for the rights that we have today. The music, ideals, and the unwillingness to conform of the Beatniks showed the society the way to change, which changed to the way that our world is today; accepting of any and all.
The new wave of artists that blossomed during this era also sparked new literary works. Beat poets sought to liberate poetry from academic preciosity and bring it “back to the streets.” (Britannica). Many famous examples included On the Road by Jack Kerouac, Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, Naked Lunch by William Burroughs, and many more. These incredible literary works challenged societal values and helped shape the platform for the fight for equal rights, a new authenticity in one’s life, and basically, just a better meaning. As many read these novels, they envisioned better, more interesting lives which still continue to change our lives today.. Thoughts and beliefs from singers/songwriters and novelists/poets greatly shifted society’s view towards transgenders, gays, and women, in general. This is seen today with our numerous LGBTQ and womens’ marches all over the country, fighting for equal rights every day.
All in all, because of the Beatnik movement, and the unwillingness to conform to society, our world now has been changed. Music is constantly changing and constantly talking about sensitive topics, couples are able to be together regardless of their sexualtiy, and the hippie movement of the 1950s and 1960s. All of those musicians who wanted to change the way that their society view them, drugs, or sexuality forever greatly impacted our nation today for the better. Something to take away form this revolutionary Beatnik movement; do not conform to society, stand out and be unorthodox, seek change and dream of the future.
Article by Megan Nowag & Video by Shaina Shah
“AP Comp: The Beat Generation.” AP Comp: The Beat Generation, sites.google.com/
Accessed 1 May 2018.
“Encyclopedia Britannica.” Beat Movement, Encyclopædia Britannica, inc., 17
Sept. 2013, www.britannica.com/art/Beat-movement. Accessed 4 May 2018.