The Beat Generation Subculture Essay

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The Beat Generation Subculture

Every generation has its middle class, majority, and norm, which are decided by that era's standards of behavior and thought. Similarly, each generation has a group that rejects these standards and rebels against the norm. In the 1950's a group of American writers that exemplified this behavior formed. They were called the beat generation. The beat generation was particularly remarkable because although it was began by an exceptionally small group of people, its cultural influence was enormous. The beats rebelled against things like conformity and consumerism in the post World War II society. Their writing challenged both traditional American values and contemporary writing styles. Incorporating
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Many writers in the group later renounced the term when they felt it lost its meaning. It took the beats a long time before they gained fame however. Jack Kerouac's novel, On the Road, went through many different publishers before anyone agreed to print it. When it did come out it was heavily criticized by the press. In the 1950's the lifestyle that On the Road explored was considered deviant. "The stereotype that emerged in the mass media was a spaced-out beatnik, dressed in black, pounding on bongo drums and muttering gibberish as poetry" (Microsoft Encarta, 2001). America's youth, however, identified with the feelings of despair and the need for freedom expressed in their work. The beats created a revolution that began with many young people leaving their conventional lives to hitchhike around American and find themselves. Like most subcultures, the Beat Generation rebelled against the social and cultural norms of their time. For them it was the post World War II society that they rejected. "Cultural historians point out that acquisition of consumer goods, which had been scarce during wartime, became a central feature of postwar life, driven by the mass media, advertising, and generous loan terms" (Encarta, 2001). The

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