The beats and the emerging counter culture represented a major backlash against the placid rigidity and regularity of the conformist 50's mentality, unquestioning in its own smug righteousness, values, and pursuit of privilege. The conformity of the age called for accepted codes of behavior, dress, and belief. Ideal TV families, Walt Disney inspired Bambi icons, and sweetness and light behavior demanded by parents, school authorities, and society at large became oppressive among youngsters coming of age without realizing the sense of freedom they regarded as a prerequisite to a full life. They began to experiment with mind-altering substances, free love, wild music and costumes, and outrageous behavior generally, all thrown in with a measure of proclaimed love for all people and hatred of hypocrisy.
The universal love and truth, a mixture of exotic religious practices and almost anything non traditional, found its place among like minded people who began to form communities in both urban and remote areas. Anything that defied traditional societal norms and was not harmful to others was O.K. The counter culture's sort of ideally conceived, adolescent, preinstitutionalized Christianity seemed to defy the corrupted social values of the day, and their dreams. were officially sanctioned by a group of counter culture writers, including Alan Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, Neil Cassidy, and Lawrence Ferlinghetti. In particular, Kerouac's On the Road personified a free, rootless existence, and Joseph Heller's Catch 22 indicted the mindless bureaucracy of American corporate culture as it infected the military in WWII.
The other medium of freedom for the counter culture was, of course, music: rock in all its forms, and folk and protest music especially. It spoke to a receptive audience in a variety of ways: literal, cerebral, rhythmic, harmonic, and sensual, as accompaniment to the dreams of a new generation of innocents seeking nothing other than redemption, peace, an end to suffering, and a utopian vision of universal brotherhood.