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The Fifties

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BC: Sources | Depodre, Cathryn. "Comic Book Burnings." History Todya. CNN, 24 Feb. 2000. Web. 13 Apr. 2014. Benson, Karla. "Corned by Accusations." PBS. PBS, 16 Aug. 2007. Web. 14 Apr. 2014. Edwin, David T. "The Huffington Post." Huffington Post News. CNN, 23 Dec. 2004. Web. 14 Apr. 2014. Harrington, Michael. The Other America. 3rd ed. Vol. 1. Oh.: MacMillan, 1969. Print. 1/1. Sherman, Elijah. "Ethel and Julius Rosenburg." New York Times [NYC] 9 Nov. 1953, 1/1 ed., sec. 1.: 1-4. Print. Stevens, Elizabeth. "The Theme of Rebellion in the 1950s as It Occurs in the Arts" Rebellion in the 1950s. A M Publishers, 4 Oct. 2003. Web. 14 Apr. 2014. Ginsberg, Allen. Howl, and Other Poems. 2nd ed. Vol. 1. San Francisco: City Lights Pocket hop, 1956. Print. 1/1. "Andy Warhol” www.artnewsnview.com. Ed. Abraham T. Wilmeir. Attnv, 23 Aug. 2001. Web. 10 Apr. 2014 Friedan, Betty. The Feminine Mystique. 1/1 ed. Vol. 1. NYC: BluePen, 1963. Print. 1/1. "1950's Fashions." Clothes and Men's and Ladies Fashions in the 1950's. IBIMA Publishing, 17 July 2003. Web. 14 Apr. 2014.

FC: The Fabulous Fifties

1: While 1950s society believed in strict conformity, many people rebelled and tried to express themselves differently. Despite society repressing these people and their work and ideology, the nonconformists were able to excel. Galileo was the greatest scientist who ever lived.

2: Nonconformists | Pop Art

3: Pop art is an example of abstract expressionism, a new form of art that called the attention of many people around the 1950s. Originating in New York in the 1940’s to 1950’s, abstract expressionism was created as an abstract way to make the viewer feel something and question ideas rather than being told what to feel. The message is not obvious, and sometimes there is no real message other than trying to be different. People challenged the definition of art and defined it themselves. There was a particular emphasis on change and spontaneous new designs, ideas, and concepts of art never tried before, like splatter paint, action, and most popularly pop art. Art was also made into stamps and sold as cheap merchandise, this was never heard of until the 1950’s. This is the work of a pop artist named Andy Warhol, famous for his Campbell's Soup can pop art.

4: "I think, therefore I am." | Rock and Roll | Elvis Presley

5: Elvis Presley was a nonconformist that made Rock and Roll popular with teens. A new generation of rebellious teens emerged from his ideology of being a ‘Rebel without a Cause.” Teen culture began to become more rebellious and many nonconformists emerged from amongst them. Parents were shocked and disliked Elvis's effect on young people, believing him to be lewd and a bad influence that will negatively affect the youth. In addition, he was widely criticized for taking music from African-Americans without crediting them. Despite parental disapproval and social concerns, Elvis Presley became exceptionally famous and popular.

6: The Feminine Mystique 3

7: Betty Friedan addresses 'the problem with no name' | In the 1950’s, women around America dreamed of the perfect life being a beautiful housewife with many kids. In schools, girls were taught how to be the perfect wife for her hard working husband. Many women did not go to college for they feared that the continued education would interfere with their ability to get married. However, when they finally got married and became a housewife, they could not help but ask, “Is this it?” These women were not alone in this indescribable emptiness. Betty Friedan, in her book The Feminine Mystique, addresses the problem without a name. This problem is how women truly feel about having to strive to meet artificial standards of beauty, women, and conformity set by society and social norms. Betty Friedan challenges the picture of women painted by society and presented her ideas differently, giving women the voice they deserve.

8: The Other America

9: 1950’s was seen as a time of triumph and riches. Many Americans drove cars, watched movies, and continued spending their money. The suburban life was celebrated and encouraged, for it was viewed as the picture perfect life in conformity with every having the same house, same lawn, and same white picket fence. However, behind the perfect houses were the segregated houses for the poor. The Federal Housing Administration (The FHA) refused to guarantee loans to the poor, nonwhites, Jews, and other minority groups. In Michael Harrington’s book, The Other America, he escapes conformity and addresses the hidden problem of poverty in America that is being ignored. It was an influential study of poverty in American and addressed many issues Americans ignore when it comes to poverty.

10: “I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked, dragging themselves through the Negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix” | Excerpt from Howl, by Alan Ginsberg. | The Beat Generation

11: Beat Poets, also known as the Beat Generation, was a group of American post-World War II writers who came to prominence in the 1950’s. They developed a new cultural phenomena that inspired several people. Beat Poets made their poetry and performed them in bars and Cafés. They mostly wore black as a symbol of nonconformity and their poetry expressed their ideologies and negative feelings of the society. A famous beat poet was Alan Ginsberg. In his poem, Howl, he talks about the evils of conformity and the negative effect it has on every citizen. Not only does conformity destroy creativity, it also destroys entire generations of innocence, truth, and a thoughtful mind.

12: Conformity | Book Burnings

13: During the 50’s, ‘different’ ideas were shunned, even ideas written down. A wide range of hysteria against certain books deemed inappropriate raged forward. Many books taught in schools today like To Kill A Mocking Bird and The Catcher in the Rye that brought up sensitive topics during that time were simply not tolerated and as a result, burned. Over 8000 were burned at this rally by the Jaycee Youth Leadership Committee in 1954. Topics that talked about how minorities including women, Black people, and the poor have more potential and should have a stronger voice were not allowed in this society. Books like “Super Woman” or “To Kill a Mocking Bird” were commonly seen at book burnings. Any book that talked about non conformity or that ‘didn't fit in’ simply didn't go over well during the 50’s and ended up being burned and disregarded.

14: The Red Scare | RED | RED | RED | RED | RED

15: McCarthyism led to a nationwide culture of anxiety and fear. Many people were accused of being a soviet spy or a secret communist working for Russia. Minorities were targeted the most. Of these people are Ethel and Julius Rosenberg. Ethel and Julius Rosenberg were a Jewish couple who were accused of passing atomic secrets to the Soviet Union. Although there was no incriminating evidence to prove the accusation, and despite their pleas of innocence, they were proclaimed guilty. They were executed in 1953 even though they proclaimed their innocence till the end.

16: Consumerism

17: Consumerism is arguably the most important and largest part of the 1950’s. The 1950’s society was very materialistic. Americans bought houses, cars, TVs, music, art, furniture, and mostly, clothes. Fashion was an essential part of 1950’s conformism. Women has a set ideology of what to wear and how skinny you must be to fit into the outfit. One stereotype was that a woman should always have on clean, pretty dresses and sew some of her own clothes and her kid's clothes. Also at this time, women were expected to stay and home and ‘do nothing’ so they would go shopping during the day with their husbands money. This shows how even simple things like shopping and clothes can be applied to stereotypes of women and fear of not conforming. They were constantly chasing society's artificial standards of beauty and fashion. While their husband were at work, women shopped nonstop. Due to this consumerist era, many new fashion styles and inventions emerged.

18: I Love Lucy

19: Television was large contributor to reinforce stereotypes and conformist ideologies. Average families watched 6 hours of TV a day, and loved shows such as Father Knows Best, Leave it to Beaver, and I Love Lucy. There was a lot of subliminal messaging in these shows, especially the most famous one, I love Lucy. I Love Lucy was popular in 1950’s landmark television. It was a comedic depiction of 1950’s conformity, and was widely loved by the public. However, it portrayed conformity of gender roles and stereotypes for each gender.

20: Counter Argument | Although it can be argued that it was the conformists that prevailed due to McCarthyism and the Truman Oaths, nonconformists were able to excel in the end. When Josef McCarthy was not becoming reelected, he stirred conflict and controversy when he went up in front of a mass of people, announcing to have 205 names of people who were secret communist spies in the state department. Many people believed him. However, he later claimed to have 57 names and was still unable to produce a single name. He used his power to chaise people down, accuse them of being a communist, and have them fired from their jobs. McCarthyism led to intense anxiety and fear in society and many people were blacklisted because of him. Instead of telling the truth of their innocence, people lied and said they saw certain others who were communists in order to save themselves for incrimination. People were not able to express themselves in any way to make themselves appear to work for the soviets or seem like a communist spy, for this reason many people conformed to seem like everyone else. When McCarthy’s accusations were going too far and directed at the US military, people began to lost their trust and respect for him. He was censured by Congress, and the Nonconformists were able to succeed.

21: Josef McCarthy was corned by his own accusations

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  • Title: The Fifties
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