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America in the 1950s

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Popular Culture
and the 1950s:
Television
1946 
1950 
7,000 TV sets in the U. S.
50,000,000 TV sets in the U. S.
Mass Audience  TV celebrated
traditional American values.
Truth, Justice, and the American way!
A. Television –Popular Shows
Dramas like:
Playhouse 90
and..
Comedies
like: I
Love Lucy
News Shows
like: See it
Now
B. Subjects presented on Television –
The Western
Davy Crockett
King of the Wild Frontier
Sheriff Matt
Dillon, Gunsmoke
The Lone Ranger
(and his faithful
sidekick, Tonto):
Who is that masked man??
And.. »
Suburban Living that idealized white
America:
The Typical TV Suburban Families
The Donna
Reed Show
1958-1966
Leave It
to Beaver
1957-1963
The Ozzie & Harriet Show
1952-1966
Father Knows Best
1954-1958
And.. »
Comedies
Comedies included variety shows and
situation comedies that presented a
glossy view of mostly
middle-class suburban life.
But there
was one
exception
...
Television show: Topper
Social Winners?...
The Honeymooners
AND…
Losers?
C. Subjects avoided on television
•Poverty
•Diversity
•Contemporary conflicts, such as racial diversity
But…What
about the
Commercials?
A. Radio Changes:
2. Radio
• Turned to local programming
•
Began targeting specialized audiences
B. How did it
Popularize AfricanAmerican Culture:
•
Hundreds of
Stations focused on
African- American
performers helping
to sell their records
3. Movies/Film: Need to compete
with Television
• Mutation films (fear of radiation
poisoning)
• 3D and smellavision
• Juvenile Delinquency
•Stereoscopic
sound
•Cinema-Scope
• In the 1950s  the word
“teenager” entered the American
language.
• By 1956  there is 13 mil. teens
with $7 billion to spend a year.
Behavioral Rules of the teen
culture of the 1950s:
U Obey Authority.
U Control Your Emotions.
U Don’t Make Waves  Fit in
with the Group.
U Don’t Even Think About Sex!!!
4. Teen Counter-Culture
A. The “Beat” Generation- Writers:
f Jack Kerouac  On The Road
B. Chief f Allen Ginsberg  poem, “Howl”
Characteristics:
•Nonconformity
“Beatnik”
•Anti-materialism
•Interest in a higher
Consciousness
•Shunning of
structure in life and
art
“Clean” Teen
5. Rock n roll
A. Who helped to popularize it?
•
Alan Freed  A disc jockey from Ohio
•
Elvis Presley  “The King”
•
Radio and T.V.
1951  “race music” 
“ROCK ‘N ROLL”
B. What were its chief
Characteristics?
•Heavy rhythm
•Simple melodies & lyrics
•Focus on youth
Terms
• Beatnik:
A member of the beat movement
counter-culture group who shunned
conformity and materialism of
mainstream American society
• Federal Communication
Commission (FCC):
Government Agency
that regulates the
Communications
Industry (radio, T.V.)
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