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Sunday, May 1, 2011

The 50's Aesthetic

So, the 1950's seem to be a popular time to portray in media, given the pervasiveness of films like Grease, American Graffiti, Porky's, and TV shows such as Happy Days. When people talk about the 1950's, they like to talk about the birth of Rock'n Roll, and about how it offended their parents. Overall, people like to believe that it was a really happy time when nothing bad ever happened, and if only we could just go back to that time, wouldn't that be great... Yeah right. Remember, you can't spell believe without a lie. Upon contrasting 1950's teen culture with world events at the time, it starts to seem hedonistic, and a denial of reality. This picture, from the lead section of Wikipedia's article on the 1950's, sums up the decade quite nicely:
Author: TheCuriousGnome
So, we have the Korean War, the North Sea Flood, the Nuclear Arms Race, the Suez Crisis, the Cuban Revolution, and Sputnik. Most of that is pretty dismal. And, it only scratches the surface. The 1950's also saw the beginning of the Vietnam War, McCarthyism, the CIA's MKULTRA mind control program, the widespread development of new chemical weapons, and the beginings of various ethnic conflicts, just to name a few. And yet we like to think that everyone in that period was just acting out Grease.
One of the first things I notice about portrayals of 1950's teen culture, is that it absolutely lacks social consciousness. There was so much fucked up shit going down, but the kids are worried mainly about offending their parents with bad music, and finding a date for prom. That we like to revel in this delusion is about the most disgusting denial of reality I've ever encountered.

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