Television Is Like Chewing Gum Essay, Research Paper
The golden age of television is a time when television united the nation as a whole. It reflected the way of living for a majority of Americans. The standard way Americans lived during this era involved a strong sense of values and morals. The structures and relationships of television linked people to a community and that fulfilled their social nature.
The viewers of television in the fifties and sixties held similar beliefs to what the sitcoms portrayed. The programs that were available to view reinforced their standards. There were not a huge variety of different shows to watch as is today. Television was fairly new in the fifties and although cable had been discovered in 1948 it was not readily accessible to all households (Cashmore 121). The shows that were available were wholesome and lighthearted. The content of these shows were family oriented and were also realities of everyday life. Yes, comedy was utilized and people were entertained but in a tasteful form. Television of this time generated many firsts and historical moments. It has been said that the golden age is the time television truly evolved. Since family bonds were strong and people just enjoyed being together television was just a way to relax and enjoy each other s company. Unexpectedly the American nation was in for a big surprise. Television would change the lives of people from here on out. It was amazing how people could view society and the world around them from there living rooms.
One of the most radical ideas that television presented, was comedy. I Love Lucy was the most popular TV show of all time. The reason, I love Lucy stands above all the rest is because it was the first show, were the superstar was a woman. The I Love Lucy show was the first for many things on television. Lucy was the first sitcom to become a hit, the first show to make number one three years in a row, and the first show to be produced live in Hollywood. Lucy s popularity lasted through the greatest change in the perception of women in America. Women in America at that time bonded with Lucy. She attempted to start her own business, get out of the house, wear men s clothes and make her husband appreciate her more. Lucy portrayed something important about women. Women expressed themselves differently than men; they focus more on emotion, seek consensus not conflict and disclose more of themselves in conversation. Early TV sitcoms were far closer to stand up comedy then they are today. This style of comedy bordered realism and that is what made the shows entertaining.(Stark 27) Lucy was only one sitcom of the many that shaped TV. Leave it to Beaver, Ozzie and Harriet, and Father Knows Best were also history making shows. The existence of these programs may not have lasted very long but definetely reflected the attitudes of the decades. After I love Lucy, networks abandoned ideas of making sitcoms starring women. They were afraid lucy s wildness would be offensive. Women weren t supposed to act in this manner and it might begin to change their attitudes. (Stark 28) Is it possible television characters could actually change shape the role of American people?
Another first for America in the fifties was the presentation of news. The primary source of news was basically newspapers and magazines. The first actual viewable news event was Movietone News. It was aired in segments before movies and it was the first show to capture breaking news from all over the world. (Barnouw 55) In 1951 its competition would be a show called (See it Now) on CBS. Edward R. Murrow was the commentator for the documentaries on See it Now. Murrow was the patron saint of television news. He confronted Senator Joseph McCarthy in one of the mediums more celebrated moments. Murrows courageous broadcasting reached many people with great impact. See it Now premiered on Sunday afternoons in1951. People were impressed with the shows visual images. It was the first time Americans could see two oceans and the statue of Liberty from their living room. Although this was televisions liveliest news show it caused great controversies. This soon reflected Morrows rating and CBS had already begun exploring new options.(Litcher and Rotham 47) Americans were fascinated by the advance in technology they were excited that they could visualize who, what, where and when. It was during this time that television began to influence the country.
In the early fifties there weren t many informative television programs that were enjoyable. It was either very serious or pure comedy. The agenda was to try and mix the two successfully. There were prime time and weekend shows when most people were home but there was not much else on during the day. There was a substantial scarcity of shows on in the morning. Well on January 14,1952 this all changed. The Today Show would fill the mornings dead air time by mimicking the radio. It would steal the audience with a mixture of news light comedy, conversation and music. The today show ran on 26 stations and went according to plan. It was hosted by Dave Garroway a former Chicago radio personality. They played some records, reviewed the weather displayed news headlines and discussed daily news. This show was famous for presenting an interview with a senator and kidney transplant operations to 100-year-old birthdays and consumer health reports. The today show went through a series of changes before it became what it is today. The show was definitely successful because it became the model for all TV news except for the staid evening programs. Entertainment tonight and LarryKing Live to Prime Time Live and the Oprah Winfrey Show, its hard to think of a television Newsweek show which doesn t get its roots from the Today show. (Litcher and Rothman18)
There were an abundance of events that shaped the Golden age of television. The first religious broadcast in 1952, which was presented by Bishop Fulton J. Sheen. Also in 1954, the FCC authorization of the standard for color television broadcast in the United States. (Esslin 267). Dwight D. Eisenhower was the first president to wholeheartedly embrace the American people publicly with his message through t.v. Advertisement on NBC. (Barnouw 67). The coverage of Kennedy s assassination, which was a live broadcast of what was exactly going on. Television was now touching people on an extreme personal level. The American people were interested in what was happening next and wanted to stay tuned for the latest, greatest, and funniest on television.
As society changes, television changes. Since television is a reflection of our society, the change was inevitable. During the sixties and early seventies our nation was thrown into a series of events that would change the world forever. The Vietnam War divided the beliefs of our society. For most, serving our country was an honor and for the remaining young adults it was a time to stand up for what they believed in no war! As a result, burning one s draft card and the American flag was a common site on the evening news. On a lighter side, Woodstock and flower power changed the thinking of our young adults from being discrete in their private lives to being promiscuous. Free love, marijuana and music that stated their (young adults ) views and morals was very popular. Television being one of the main forms of communication, became a vehicle to depict these attitudes. Sitcoms and movies about the war and its atrocities became evident. Violence and hatred were a common theme in many shows. Marijuana and love power changed the standards of many young adults, thus making television viewing no longer viable for every age group.
Television as it was known during the Golden Age ceased to exit. The values and attitudes that created an atmosphere of peace, harmony and tranquility was no longer the theme used in television. Gathering in the living room around the television with popcorn and soda to enjoy an evening of laughter with the whole family doesn t happen too often today. Most adults spend time looking for shows of yesteryear, while the young adults desire the quick action and violence in their movies. Television has become a commander of our culture, people use television differently than any other media source. We view television for everything, politics, literature, religion, news and commerce. Americans have become television people. Although in a way we have to be tuned into television or we won t be familiar with what s happening in our culture. Television creates a fantasy world that replaces the images of what real life is. It effects the realities of many people who think it s an example of how to live. Its in our minds and lives so continuously that its starting to shape our everyday actions. Television started as an agent of social control but is now an agent of social change. (Stark 59)
Television is an invention that permits you to be entertained in your living room by people you wouldn t in your home. (David Frost)