Monday, May 10, 2010
The emerging teen culture in the 1950's had a huge impact on the way of thinking of the western world.
A teenager growing up in the prior to the end of WW II was forced to take life fairly seriously. Males were expected to join the services or to go out get a job, help support his family or a new bride. Women were expected to meet a man, marry and have children. College was for a select few. Teens had limited freedom, not much economic power and little influence in decisions made by the older generation.
Teenagers were celebrating life as say "Bobby Soxers" in the 1940's, but with the end of the war, and rationing, the youth of the 50's needed more , and the big entertainment companies were willing to sell it to them!
The term “teenager” was scarcely heard at the start of the 1950’s, but by the decade’s end, the word rolled off every American tongue with ease. The teens of the ‘50’s were the first teen-aged youths to stand out as a distinct group with interests, fashions, musical tastes and economic power of their own. Their rise to prominence was largely because, unlike the youth of previous generations, the youngsters of the 1950s were unencumbered by responsibilities brought by world war and economic depression. In the 1950s, America was as prosperous as it ever had been; the morale of the white middle-class was high, and parents, smilingly indulgent. For the first time, young people had both the money and the freedom to do what every generation of teens since has expected as its right: have fun.
Elvis Presley, and James Dean had a direct influence on teenagers, as the rich white men could see where they may be able to manipulate big profits , in part by creating difference, and a "generation gap".
"Rock and Roll is an economic thing," says "pop" singer Jo Stafford, quoted in Billboard, October 13, 1958. "Today's nine-to fourteen year old group is the first generation with enough money given to them by their parents to buy records in sufficient quantities to influence the market. In my youth if I asked my father for 45 cents to buy a record, he'd have thought seriously about having me committed."