It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
The 1950s by William H. Young; Nancy K. Young (As told to)
Publication Date: 2004-04-30
Have the 1950s been overly romanticized? Beneath the calm, conformist exterior, new ideas and attitudes were percolating. This was the decade of McCarthyism, Levittowns, and men in gray flannel suits, but the 1950s also saw bold architectural styles, the rise of paperback novels and the Beat writers, Cinema Scope and film noir, television variety shows, the Golden Age of the automobile, subliminal advertising, fast food, Frisbees, and silly putty. Meanwhile, teens attained a more prominent role in American culture with hot rods, rock 'n' roll, preppies and greasers, and--gasp--juvenile delinquency. At the same time, a new technological threat, the atom bomb, lurked beneath the surface of the postwar decade. This volume presents a nuanced look at a surprisingly complex time in American popular culture. American Popular Culture Through History is the only reference series that presents a detailed, narrative discussion of United States popular culture. This volume is one of 17 in the series, each of which presents essays on Everyday America, The World of Youth, Advertising, Architecture, Fashion, Food, Leisure Activities, Literature, Music, Performing Arts, Travel, and Visual Arts.
As McCarthyism swept across the United States and capitalism was king, white America enjoyed a feeling of pride and security that was reflected in advertising. Carelessly flooding society with dangerous misinformation, companies in the 50s promoted everything from vacations in Las Vegas, where guests could watch atomic bombs detonate, to cigarettes as healthy mood-enhancers, promoted by a baby who claims his mother feels better after she smokes a Marlboro. From "The World's Finest Automatic Washer" to the Cadillac which "Gives a Man a New Outlook," you'll find a colorful plethora of ads for just about anything the dollar could buy. Oh, and "Have you noticed how many of your neighbors are using Herman Miller furniture these days?" If only you could really travel back in time and pick up a few chairs for your collection...