Beat Countercultural Movement Essay

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To say that the Beat generation has affected modern culture seems at first to be no great revelation; it is inevitable that any period of history will affect the time that follows. The Beat generation is especially significant, though, because of its long lasting impact on American culture. Many aspects of modern American culture can be directly attributed to the Beat writers, primarily Allen Ginsburg, William Burroughs, Neal Cassady, and Jack Kerouac. (Asher) Their influence has changed the American perception of obscenity, has had profound effects on American music and literature, and has modified the public’s views on such topics as sex and drug use. The label “Beat Generation” was first publicized in a 1952 New York Times Magazine …show more content…
Many lines in Howl would have been considered obscene by the standards of his time, especially, “who let themselves be fucked in the ass by saintly motorcyclists, and screamed with joy.” (Howl) Prior to 1957, obscenity was legally defined as anything that “has a substantial tendency to deprave or corrupt its readers by inciting lascivious thoughts or arousing lustful desires.” (Obscenity) Since much of Howl is concerned with illicit drug use and sexual deviancy, it clearly meets these requirements. Now, however, no second thought is given to works such as “Howl.” Our culture has changed so drastically that not only has what was once considered obscene become accepted, but it has been raised to the status of literature. The Beatniks, as they eventually came to be known, also had a strong influence on music and literature. The artists of the then-emerging musical style of rock and roll, such figures as the Beatles and Bob Dylan, were affected by the movement. In fact, “Beatles” was spelled with an “a” because of Kerouac’s influence on John Lennon. Paul McCartney played guitar for one of Ginsberg’s albums. Bob Dylan toured with Ginsberg, and considered Ginsberg and Kerouac both to be major influences. Many of the themes of rock and roll
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