In the late 1950s and early 1960s, a group of writers led by Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs revolutionized American literature with their iconoclastic approach to language and their angry assault on the conformist nature of society. Known as the Beats, these writers took aim at American hypocrisy and taboos involving sex, race and class. Nearly a half-century later, their impact can still be felt in literature as well as cinema, music, theater and the visual arts.
David Sterritt, the long-time and distinguished film critic for the Christian Science Monitor, has recently published a book which details the Beats’ remarkable association with popular culture. In Screening the Beats: Media Culture and the Beat Sensibility (Southern Illinois University Press), Sterritt brilliantly shows how the Beat writers pollinated the culture of their era with their distinct styles and visions and how, in turn, they responded to the edgier aspects of mainstream culture, with unlikely inspirations arising out of such diverse segments including modern jazz and Three Stooges comedies.
Film Threat caught up with Sterritt in New York, where he offered a rich insight on how Kerouac and company co-existed with the cinematic elite.
Get the interview in part two of DAVID STERRITT: THE BEATS GO ON>>>