04/19/11

On a Mission to Save the World!

In the 1950s, the Beat movement was led by a group of poets and writers who deviated from the behaviors and values of mainstream culture. In the 1960s, many movements were also started for the pursuit of a common cause. For instance, the environmental movement began as more and more people became aware of the growing dangers of water contamination, air pollution, and the threat of extinction of certain animal species. The movement received bipartisan support. During Nixon’s presidency, Congress enacted many legislations including the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts and the Endangered Species Act to ensure the quality of air and water and safety¬† of animals. In addition, on April 22, 1970, the first Earth Day was launched, which attracted many youths to come to the rallies, concerts, and teach-ins.

The Environmental movement had roots in the 1950s because the previous decade was a symbol of consumerism. People were obsessed with their individual desires and ignored the impact of their actions on the enviornment. People pursued the American dream vigorously by purchasing more cars just becaues they could. In the 1960s, people began to realize that there is a consequence for their actions. Therefore, the environmental movement was to undo the spoils of the 1950s.

04/10/11

Freedom=Consumption

Now where in the history of America has consumerism became widespread as in the 1950s. Not only in its breadth but also in depth as the very notion of freedom(something that symbolizes America) became intertwined with it. The 50’s was an era called the Golden Age of Capitalism, a period of unprecedented economic growth that benefited both the capitalists and workers, as result of higher wages. Economic prosperity led to a growing middle class, which demanded appliances and products that would enable them enjoy more leisure time and spend less in the kitchen or cleaning up the house. Inventions such as the dishwasher, washing machine and vacuum cleaners became household items. Even a reporter for House Beautiful Magazine asserted that the most potent weapon in the Cold War was “the freedom offered by washing machines and dishwashers, vacuum cleaners, automobiles, and refrigerators.” The image above is an advertisement from the 1950’s and showed how unscrupulous the advertising was since Coke was advertised to kids, and also one of the selling points in the poster says “Boosts Personality!”

04/7/11

Barbies’ of the 1950s

In chapter 24, Foner discusses American people in¬† consumerism and freedom of consumer choice in the 1950s. After WWII Americans were desperate for anything, people had the eagerness to buy many things created an economic boom in the U.S. During this time period consumer values dominated the American economy and culture; mass productions of commercials were made to satisfy consumer’s wants and needs. Various commercials appealed people of all ages. Just like now a day advertisements of the 1950s evolved with just anything; automobiles, beverages, toys, the latest fashion trend, and other daily goods. The video footage above is an example of one TV commercial of barbies in the 1950s.

04/6/11

The 1950’s saw the television’s rise in popularity. “By the end of the 1950’s, nearly nine of ten American families owned a TV set.” This drastically changed American life. People started using the TV as a source of information. The job that once belonged to strictly the newspapers was moving on to other formats. America also began using TV as their number one leisure activity. They would watch shows like The Goldbergs, The Honeymooners, and Leave It To Beaver. However, the biggest impact that television had was through its advertisements.

Advertisements were now being seen on a mass scale, due to the amount of TV that was being watched across the country. Without Tivo most people would actually sit through the commercials, and some even found them entertaining. Jack Straus, the chairman of the board of Macy’s said, “The luxuries of today are the necessities of tomorrow.” What this means is that people are starting to think they need goods that were once considered luxuries. America started shifting into a consumer country. People were being “brainwashed” to buy all sorts of things. Items such as Levi’s or Coca-Cola were once items of the rich. Now, the entire population was buying everything they could. They were taking out loans, and buying on credit, both things that were not done before. The TV and advertisements really shifted the way Americans behaved. Above is a clip of a handful of television commercials from the 1950’s and 1960’s. I found them quite interesting. I hope you do as well.