The Fabulous Fifties: Prelude To Rebellion Essay, Research Paper
Ahhh, the fifties. It was a time of prosperity, fear of destruction, and the typical American family. There was a set way for everything to be, and to vary from that way meant that you weren’t a true American. This type of thinking set the stage for the rebellious ideas of the sixties. This paper will discuss the fifties mindset and how the children raised in this time period were ultimately really messed up.
The family structure of the time was one of the major influences in how the sixties ended up. Everyone had a set role in the family. Uncomfortable situations were avoided at all costs. Dinners were especially important. They were meant to be a pleasant and relaxing experience for the whole family. However, they ended up being stifling to the family. No one could speak of anything unpleasant, and everything was made to please father. Even the women of the family made it a point to try to please the men. The men frequently complimented the women so that they would continue to try pleasing them.
The children of this time were spoiled little brats. Their parents had lived through the depression and World War II, so they wanted their kids to have life better than they did. This meant that the kids did what they wanted to do, as long as the parents didn’t find out about it. You see, misbehaving was a disease to the parents of the time. They thought that there was nothing involved in parenting, it just happened. This meant that they didn’t do anything special to raise their kids. They had perfect kids automatically. So if their kids were misbehaving, there was obviously something horribly wrong with the children.
The family unit everyone tried to achieve was the one that they saw on television. Everyone was happy and never argued. If some discrepancy did occur, it was easily resolved and some valuable lesson was learned. That lesson was usually one that had already been drilled into them at school. If your family life wasn’t exactly as the television family, there was something desperately wrong that you couldn’t let anyone else, especially your neighbors, know about. The other type of show you typically saw on TV was a western. This was what the boys of the time used as their rebel role models. I mean which would you choose: the family shows (guys with no balls) or the westerns (guys with big guns)? This type of non-conformity on television is what started to spur the ideas that not everything had to be perfect.
The issue of conformity was another big influence in the fifties. Everything was the same, the way you were supposed to act, the way you were supposed to dress, how you were supposed to feel. Even the sprawling mass of houses that was suburbia became one big duplication. You were always taught that there was one way to do things and if you deviated from these ways, you were a horrible child. But conformity wasn’t left to the children. Even the adults had to conform to societies ways. Teachers had to follow a strict methodology of teaching and couldn’t question any of it. They had to practice what they preached, which was, “Obey- Don’t ask questions.” Some teachers wanted to question what they were doing to the children, but couldn’t, for fear of losing their jobs.
“Duck and cover” was quite possibly one of the most powerful message that was nailed into the minds of the children. Too bad it wasn’t a good one. It instilled them with a false sense of security, while also filling them with an immense fear of the communist threat. Some teachers knew that it wasn’t healthy to constantly drill the kids into the duck and cover method, but if they were to speak out or not practice it, they would be dubbed a communist, and fired. Music was also a way of unconformity that many kids liked. It was something that no one had ever heard before, and teens really were attracted to it. Too bad some adults who were extreme conformists tried making connections between rock and roll and the communist party. This wasn’t anything unusual; these were the same people that said that if you stood out in any way, you had to be a communist.
In conclusion, the people who controlled the lifestyle of the fifties were essentially the conformists. They are the ones who ran the television shows, made the educational materials to teach the children proper ways, and decided what was the acceptable ways to live in the society. This extreme conformity stifled the children of the time so much that they had no other choice but to go their own way once the shackles of high school were broken and they had the freedom of college. This was the beginning of a new era in our country; an era of freedom of choice exercised freely. No one could stop these kids no matter how hard they tried. Ahhh, the sixties.