It’s the 1950’s! The 1950s are most often remembered as a quiet decade, a decade of conformity, stability, and normalcy. Yet, we obscure the fact that the 1950s saw real social change and awakening, and behind closed doors there was a compelling social and cultural force, Pop Culture.
In the 1950s, young Americans had more disposable income and enjoyed greater material comfort than their forebears, which allowed them to devote more to leisure activities and the consumption of popular culture. After the tumult of the war and the economic recession, they were excited to put this cash to use. These boomers, jumped in their American made automobile, cruised on the interstate, and shopped like crazy. Consumption was a ginormous factor in pop culture, but without a doubt, televisions led the charge.
Hollywood was struggling and their biggest challenger was televisions. For many American households, televisions were becoming a prime source of a homogenized society and culture. Television owned the American mind at a period dubbed the ‘golden age of television’. Television shows presented the white suburban family life: happy housewife mothers, wise fathers, and mischievous but not dangerously rebellious children. These ideals were constants on shows like Leave It To Beaver and Father Knows Best.
“It’s (pop culture) part of that web of narratives that we all exist within, whether we realize it or not” – Dr. Siobhan McEvoy-Levy
In a world where pop culture is expanding, it presents a funnel of information fead to everyone. Because America is watching the same broadcasts, news outlets, sports, and politics, it creates a unprecedented amount of Appearance vs. Reality. American society is being feed out the same bowl, so if the ideas are doctored, false, or bias it can create a false narrative that circulates through communities and society. In the 1950’s, shows like Leave It To Beaver, and Father Knows Best, purposefully or unknowingly, skewed the reality, and deepened racial divisions, and cemented gender roles. A great example of Appearance vs Reality in television is the Wild West. Would you know from your favourite TV western that up to a quarter of the cowboys were black?
This theme of, appearance never being the full reality is very distinct in Macbeth. An example is, the murder of Duncan. King Duncan’s perception on Macbeth was his downfall. Till the end Duncan continued to see the false friendship. Macbeth states “False face must hide what the false heart doth know”. Another example is, King Duncan’s son Donalbain recognizes that not all men are as they seem. Donalbain states that “There are daggers in men’s smiles”, meaning that despite a person’s friendly appearance, danger lurks beneath their facade. Unlike his father, however, they are better at discerning honest men from false men.
Whether it be the 1950’s, Macbeth, or present day. There is an identifiable continuity in every world, it is our struggle to separate the appearance and reality. See you next week!
Sources I used as evidence for this post and my ideas!
3. My brain