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US History
1950 - 1975
     The 1950's were a time of revolution for the social culture of the United States.  Certain ideals and stereotypes were

dropped as well as the introduction of new forms of Art and Expression.  Rock Music came into popularity with the new

artists of the time and Technology surfaced to become a part of American Culture.


     In the Realm of Art, new forms of expression came into being.  Jackson Pollock became famous for his Drip Paintings which were nothing more that radom paint drippings on canvass.  The pieces were said to symbolize the spirit of the time, the philosophy of Negating the Past with Spontaneous Action in the present.  Older pieces were met with criticism.  Traditional paintings like "Washington Crossing the Deleware" were seen with distaste.  They were believed to be part of the National Cliche and underappreciated.  Despite their smaller economy, many were able to afford to purchase Pollocks paintings that neared $13,600 each.  But many of them were unable to afford such art works and thus many Art Mobiles were created to display these fabulous works of art.  THese Art Mobiles were vans sanctioned to carry large expensive art peoples to the people to see.

      Music became a large part of American Culture in the mid 1900's.  Famous artists like Elvis Presley and James Dean came into popularity with the masses, especially teenagers who would rush concerts.  Rock and Roll became a mainstream Genre.  Once thought to be an African American Genre, artists like Elvis Presley turned the Rock and Roll world upside-down and opened it up to the whites of America.  His crazy pelvis thrusting brought teenage girls to concerts in the thousands.  Rock and Roll marked the break between the music of parents and their adolescents.  Though Elvis was extremely open with his sexualized persona, it was no match for the deeds of one Little Ricjart who was flambouyant and outrageous both on-stage and off.  The individuals of the second half of the century wanted to set themselves apart from their older counterparts, and their music showed it.  The Realm of Jazz music in the 1950's were characterized by rapid improvisations and unorthodox yet popular tunes.  Artists like Miles Davis, Mark Sonny Rollins set forth to make names for themselves in Jazz history starting in this decade.  Classical music came under fire when it was chosen as the theme for the musical "West Side Story" that characterized the fear of many American families.  "West Side Story" served to personify the fears of juvenile delinquincy and violence prevelant through the youth.  Which brings us to...

    Teenagers started their own culteral and social category among American Citizens.  Eager to excercise their freedom and values, they would test the boundaries of sexuality and consumerism.  The explosive economy of the 1950's gave way for the Teenagers of the 1950's to spend like no other generation before it.  Teenagers began to flout authroity and challenge the social environment.  They were not trusted by the majority of their parents who believed they had it "easy" after the war.

    The writings of the time did not replicate that of the post-war decade before it.  Instead of writing about war as the survivors of World War I had, the deniziens of the 1950's choose to write about anything but the war.  THey choose to Denounce the common life and fostered rebellion and nonconformity with Beatnick writers Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac.  J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye (1951) would be based on the rebellious teens and post-war values.  Sexually explicit writing reached a new peak with fiction like Peyton Place.  The writings of the 1950's were heavily influenced by the Cold War.

    The Beatnicks marked a new trend in civil dissobedience.  This group of nonconformists favored peace and challenged traditional ideas.  The men of the movement never showed flambouyance with plain clothing and the women wore simple black leotards with no Lipstick but with plenty of Mascara.  Their homes consisted of apartments called "Pads" sometimes only furnished with a hot plate and nothing more. 

    Gender roles began to change during this time.  Women were used to taking jobs outside the home much like they had during the War.  Women began to fight for their rights and desire outside employment.  Though many desired "normalcy" to make a return that the times may return to the prewar era.  Expert Opinion was actively searched for to make decisons on nutrition, marital relations, child rearing and parenting.   Homosexuality and Juvenile Delinquincy were just the tip of the metaphorical iceberg that mothers were blamed for.  But the old ideas of normalcy were no longer viable.  The idea of a domestic housewife no longer applied to much of the country as many worked outside the home. 
    Not only had the females of society change their private lives, but their public view had changed.  Sex began to sell.  Models like Suzy Parker posed enticingly to sell their products.  Marlyn Monroe became the first Sex Symbol of the United States and was the first centerfold for Playboy Magazine.  Monroe was seen to be ditzy and only a sex idol instead of the serious actress she desired to be.  Sexuality was more openly expressed, complete writings such as Alfred Kinsey's Sexual Behavior in the Human Male (1948)  and Sexual Behavior in the Human Female (1952) were published and brought forth evidence of homosexuality in males and the lack of vaginal orgasms in women.  People began to talk openly about sex and change the view of sex from a deep attatchment to one of open physical pleasure.  Homosexuals began to start their  social network where they were able to leave their small confined towns and explore urban metropolises together.  Sexual Revolution was in full swing in the decade as oral contraceptives were developed and Gregory Pincus and Margaret Sanger started their experimentation with the birth control pill.  Playboy Magazine was published in 1953 from Hugh Hefner and reflected nuetral values and bridged a gap between the middle class and upper class.

    Civil Rights began rapid acceleration during the decade.  The Blacks that faced inequality desired the equlaity of the country.  After the experinces of deeply disturbing prejudice, they wanted to be equal.  In 1954, the supreme court case Brown vs. The Board of Education overturned Plessy vs. Ferguson decision of seperate but equal facilities and opened the door to all sorts of social integration in all aspects of life.  The Montgomery Bus Boycott began with Rosa Parks refusal to move to the back of the bus when she decided to sit in the Whites only part of the bus.  It provided activists with a reason to boycott and they did.  This began the career of one Martin Luther King Jr. in the realm of Civil Rights in 1955.    The 1957 event in Little Rock, Arkasas when the Supreme Court Decision was not upheld when an all white high school was desegregated and nine black students were not allowed to enroll by Governor Orval Faubus.  Faubus had called in the National Guard to prevent the students from enrolling.  This enraged President Eisenhower and caused the President to send in troops form the 101st airborne division to allow the black students to enroll.  But when the army was withdrawn from the school, the students faced much harrassment. 

    Television and other forms of technology became widespread through the country.  TV shows like Leave it to Beaverand The Honeymooners showed how it was to be a family in the 1950's and I love Lucy became popular with the masses.  The television gave much of the country something to do.  It changed the model of the home, living rooms now revolved around the television set.  Television required snacks to watch and TV dinners and TV trays.  Domestic Comedies stretched the values and morals of the time period while Walt Disney's television programs, Disneyland,  gave a utopian idea of what the United States was to be.  It reflected the homogenization of the United States public.  People began to envision a futuristic nuclear world after the start of the Space Race between the Unted States and Russia to land on the moon.  THe United States launched Alan Shepard into space after the Soviets launched "Sputnik" in 1957 as we launched our first man in 1961.  Computers were devolped into large room size machines to do simple computations and made things more portable.

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