Culture of 1950S
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The end of World War II signaled a new beginning in United States culture and history. The return of the soldiers from Europe incited an explosion in the economic prosperity of America and the 1950's began with a new sense of power. The Cold War began and gave the United States an enemy to rally against and join together in a common cause, anti-communism. The optimism of the era was profound and left its mark on every aspect of society.
Wars and the Start of the Technology Era
Politically, Dwight D. Eisenhower had entered the oval office in 1952 and embarks upon fearless experimentation in many areas of government. With the Korean War waging, enemy arsenal is still necessary in the defense of the nation, thus the atom bomb is introduced and tested in 1953. More than a message to Southeast Asia, the bomb is the Cold War weapon that the government will produce to keep Russia in tact. The US set out on a campaign to "out-do" the Russians in a race that amounted to "let's see who can store the most atom bombs first".
Brown v. The Board of Education knocked down segregation as political and social battles raged in the southern states. While America enjoyed prosperity, it also engaged in a hateful era of witch-hunting with the following:
- The southern KKK
- George Wallace
- Violence against the declaration that segregation was unconstitutional.
Hate in the north and throughout the nation was experienced in the form of McCarthyism, an anti-Communist search through America for supporters of the Communist way. The prosperity of the decade was shadowed by political turmoil and fueled by fear.
What the Russians did manage to out-do the US in was the space program. In 1957, Sputnik was launched and Russia beat the US into outer space. However, technology for America was booming and the beginning of the technology era was introduced by the television and the first computer (UNIVAC I). Americans saw color TV in 1953 and began an American obsession with entertainment.
Cultural Icons of the 1950's
The cultural icons of the 1950's were such figures as Elvis and Marilyn Monroe. Their popularity stemmed from a larger than life sense of progress that was sweeping the nation. Every woman wanted to blonde and sexy like Marilyn, with a man like Elvis crooning over her. Every man wanted to be James Dean, cool and unpenatratable to the pains of the past decades of war and depression. In 1957, Jack Kerouac published "On the Road" and set up the beat culture that would introduce the "free love" era of the 1960's. The younger generation began to tire of the hate and fear of the Cold War, McCarthyism, and racism and sought out ways to express themselves in literature, music and television. A revolution that would last an entire decade was begun at the end of the 1950's.