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Sex, Drugs & Rock ‘n’ Roll

The Evolution of an American Youth Culture


Douglas Brode

Sex, Drugs, & Rock ‘n’ Roll analyzes the cultural, political, and social revolution that took place in the U.S. (and in time the world) after World War II, crystalizing between 1955 and 1970. During this era, the concept of the American teenager first came into being, significantly altering the relationship between young people and adults.
As the entertainment industries came to realize that a youth market existed, providers of music and movies began to create products specifically for them. While Big Beat music and exploitation films may have initially been targeted for a marginalized audience, during the following decade and a half, such offerings gradually become mainstream, even as the first generation of American teenagers came of age. As a result the so-called youth culture overtook and consumed the primary American culture, as records and films once considered revolutionary transformed into a nostalgia movement, and much of what had been thought of as radical came to be perceived as conservative in a drastically altered social context.
In this book Douglas Brode offers the first full analysis of how an American youth culture evolved.
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Chapter 11. Revolution for the Sell of It: The Beat Generation and the Hippie Movement


← 192 | 193 → ·11·


The Beat Generation and the Hippie Movement

“If you’re going to San FranciscoBe sure to wear some flowers in your hair.For if you’re going to San FranciscoYou’re going to meet some gentle people there.”

—John Phillips, Scott McKenzie; 1967

Before the Hippie Movement, there was the Beat Generation. Or was there? “Three people do not make a generation,”1 Gregory Corso (1930–2001), whose “Bomb” was the first published anti-nuke poem, commented. Gary Snyder (1930–), Pulitzer-prize winner and original poet laureate of the ecology movement, asserted that they were at most a small circle of friends which briefly attracted immense media attention.2 Jack Kerouac (1922–1969), who coined the term, borrowed ‘beat’ from jazz: People who had been beaten down by the nouveau conformity (white-bread suburbia) in postwar America and possibility of total destruction (The Bomb); engaged in a search for Beatitude, spiritual salvation with its potential to relieve human suffering.3 By ‘generation’ Kerouac likely referred not to his era but a dozen or so philosophers and poets who met in and around Columbia University, then moved downtown to Manhattan’s Greenwich Village during the 1940s.

← 193 | 194 → Most straights were dumbfounded if fascinated (but not threatened, owing to the Beats’ insularity) by what might have better been described as The Beat Phenomenon or Sub-culture. Most prominent were Jack Kerouac, author of On The Road (1957), a best-selling novel that...

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