In this essay we will be looking at popular culture in early 1950s America. We will look at the situation of America in the 1950s. We will then look at the influence of music, television and fashion in the period. Finally we will look at the impact of these things on the youth and older generation of America. I am going to talk about the situation in America in the 1950s. At this point America became wealthier then they ever had been because of the boost in the US economy, after the hardship of fighting in WWII so this meant that they had more cash then they did before to spend on what they wanted.
There was new wealth and cheap Levitt houses were made so this meant that more people were able to afford houses. Levitt houses were houses that weren’t attached to other houses, they had a lot of space around them and they were away from other houses. Places that were built at the outskirts of town and cities where there was plenty of available space were called Suburbs, the word suburb came from Sub meaning under or junior to something and urban meaning town. People who lived in the suburbs needed a car in order to travel to the city because they lived a long distance away.
People couldn’t really commute to the city for work and for shopping without a car, in those days buses weren’t so frequent. Many designed trendy new cars were out and people had money to afford it so cars were very popular. Another popular thing was television which created the biggest consumer market ever. Advertising grew which attracted people to buy products from the marketing companies. Advertisements were growing, people were attracted by what they had to say and they were encouraged to buy the products they were advertising.
Television also helped advertisers a lot with selling many products to the viewers of America. This made the marketing industries wealthier and more powerful in terms of who they could reach. Now I am going to talk about the influence of music, television and fashion in America at that time. TV was a huge influence on people at that time. During the 1950s television became a huge media, people were wealthier they brought television into there homes and watched TV for many hours then ever before. People were beginning to accept what they heard and saw on TV.
Television changed the face of entertainment and leisure we can see this by examining the growth of the Disney phenomenon. After months of hype on the popular TV show by the same name. Disneyland finally opened in 1995. Disneyland itself blurred the boundaries between TV and reality by presenting a sanitized version of America which is no litter, no cities and no ethnicity. Television was showing shows that were entertaining, appealing and encouraging to people. There were many shows such as TV sitcoms which were showing the very values and morals that people were trying to maintain in real life.
Lassie, Father Knows Best and I Love Lucy were sitcoms that featured popular characters whose lives many viewers copied and followed. I Love Lucy was about a women called “Lucy” who usually did mad things to impress her husband. The two stars were also a couple in real life and married. Domestic comedies were popular and emphasized the nuclear suburban white family. Westerns were also massively popular, they showed what was right and wrong. John Wayne was the biggest western film star.
Western films always showed the native Americans as the bad guys, they showed how tough and strong Americans were and that God was always on there side which was why they became very popular and appealing to people. Families enjoyed watching varieties types of shows like Disney and the Ed Sullivan show which was about Ed inviting guests and interviewing them and also allowing them to perform. Also television influenced people on fashion as well, people were copying the stars fashion in the shows. Influence of music was huge at the time there were lots of new singers who became role modals of many Americans.
Music was everywhere many new singers started producing music that people were loving. Music virtually influenced everything because it was the decade that gave birth to Rock and Roll. When singers like Elvis Presley, Bill Haley and Jerry Lee Lewis was on everyone’s mind. They influencing many people especially youngsters not just on the type of music but on fashion and style as well so I think music influenced people on fashion as well because take Elvis Presley for instant people loved his music, loved the way he sang, loved the way he danced but they also loved his fashion, the way he dressed and did his hair.
Elvis Presley was new he was exciting and he was a sex symbol. He was new and different, he was a white kid singing like a black guy and his music made people go wild and crazy. Their music was new, fresh and different which made it very popular with people extremely with teenagers who were trying to escape from boring middle class America into a more exciting lifestyle America. Also singers like Doris Day and Rosemary Clooney influenced their music with their fashion on many young women’s.
Another influence of music was from “The Rat Pack” who were male performers famous not only for their music but also for their glamorous lifestyle. I think music influenced people on going out more, doing things and having fun and mixing with different culture and society. Fashion was another thing that influenced people in the 1950s. Formal dressing for women’s were wearing dresses with matching shoes, hats handbags and gloves. Woman’s made sure that they always had their hair done and makeup on. A normal respectable woman certainly would not go out in trousers looking like men’s.
Men’s wore suits and ties for work or special occasions. Their weekend clothes were casual which was wearing slacks and shirts. Their hair was short back and side ways, not messed up and long. I think influence of fashion was mostly from music and television. Television actors and actresses were influencing their style of fashion on people so the people copied them and dressed, did their hair and make up just like them. Fashion was also influenced by music from singers like Elvis Presley, people loved his style and he became the symbol of fashion for the young generation.
People were copying him everywhere his loose, flashy, colorful, more sophisticated and explosive style. Everyone wanted to be like him so clothing for young people became loose and more free and flashy. There were baggier pants for boys and full and circular skirts for girls. Boys had Elvis Presley’s haircut. Another way music influenced fashion was by Presley’s over whelming appeal to girls so many boys adopted his look to attract and to impress girls. Finally I am going to talk about the impact of these things on the young and old in America.
The term teenager’s was never really used before they were just referred to as young people and it wasn’t until 1950 that teenage “youth culture” emerged. Teenage lifestyles, fashion ideas and attitudes were common amongst the youth by youth I mean 13 to 19 year olds. There was range of influences in the 1950s including film, television, magazines and rock music which created a new marketing group called the teenagers. Suddenly advertisements and companies were targeting on teenagers, there was a flurry of teenage goods being sold and teenagers who were the consumers were encouraged from advertisement to buy it.
These single young people with cash from work and who didn’t need to support a family soon had their own fashion, own music and own style. Teenager’s had a lot of free leisure time and they could go out and have fun but the older generation didn’t have much time for leisure they had to work to feed the family and women’s had to stay home and cook, clean and look after the little ones they were encouraged to do this by new homes, new domestic appliances and by new feminine fashions.
Magazines like “Women’s Weekly” and “Vanity Fair” came out full of articles about household tips, fashion knitting and adverts for household products because women’s stayed home they didn’t want to know about things they didn’t need they wanted to know about household related things that could help their house look nice and wanted to know about products they could use at home. Teenagers were bored and were looking for something exciting then they discovered rock and roll music which changed everything.
Suddenly teenagers ruled the style in clothes, haircuts and in fashion, which was influenced by television and music. Teenage fashion Idols were rock and roll stars like Elvis Presley, Bill Haley, Jerry Lee Lewis and film stars James Dean and Marlon Brando. Teenage fashion had started, everyone was coping Elvis Presley’s haircut, black slacks and loose open necked shirts this resulted as a new line of clothing for teenage boys which was different from the moderate look. Teenage boys grew their hair long and went for a messier look, this was different from the traditional short black and sides.
Fashion for teenage girls were full or circular skirts, cardigans and tight shirts with a scarf tied on their neck which was different from wearing dresses with matching things. New singers and actors in television and music influenced all these. Unsurprisingly a generation gap began to emerge between parents and children. Teenagers loved Elvis Presley they were either buying his music or something related to him. He had a huge impact on the America youth consumer market. His success gave the marketing industries a big opportunity to earn a massive amount of money from teenagers who were mad about him and who had money to spend.
All these things made the teen culture. Going to concerts, dances, drive in movies, having fun, riding fast cars and enjoying life became teen culture. In conclusion, describing popular culture in early 1950’s America appears to be describing a culture controlled by the youth. Popular culture means the lifestyle, fashion and ideas that were common in a society. They are passed on to the people through TV, films, adverts, magazines and fashion. Teenagers took over popular culture because they had more money to express their feeling their desire and their freedom.
They didn’t have to take care of a family so they had money to spend on what they wanted, they either got allowances or at least had a Saturday job. Teenagers had more money to spend on fashion, style and fun things they wanted so they took over popular culture. Teenagers were mostly influenced by television, music and advertisement. The marketing industries figured out that these young people had a lot of money in their hand so they came up with products related with TV and music that attracted them so another reason for teenagers taking over popular culture was because the marketing industries were targeting and focusing on them.
Popular culture was taken over by teenagers because they didn’t have racial attitudes, they didn’t care about the colour of people, they were just interested in music, interested in having fun and living and enjoying their lives. The older generation now saw popular culture having to follow the whims of their children’s consumer habits, rather then their own.