Have you ever had one of those days that were so bad that you desperately needed a night at the ice cream or candy store? The 1970’s was that really bad day, while the night of self- indulgence was the 1980’s. Americans love to escape from our daily stress, and of all the products that allow us to do so, none is more popular than the movies. Movies are key cultural artifacts that offer a view of American culture and social history. They not only offer a snapshot of hair styles and fashions of the times but they also provide a host of insights into Americans’ ever-changing ideals.
Elvis Presley's Poor Talents Paying Bills Elvis Presley, the King of Rock and Roll, is an American Pop Culture Icon who influenced his audience with his commanding voice and dazzling sex appeal. In the 1950's, Elvis devoted his career to singing and making music. In the sixties, however, he dedicated his time towards making movies and appearing in motion pictures. As many critics agree, Elvis had poor acting skills in his films, generally showing apathy and/or dull facial expressions. Yet, through entertainment media, Elvis was able to inspire a generation of youth to "take action" in American society from his "poor actions".
The Sixties were an exciting revolutionary period of time with great social and technological change. Some people called it the “decade of discontent” because of the race riots in Detroit and La, and the demonstrations against the Vietnam War. Other people called it the decade of “peace, love, and harmony”. It was called this because of the peace movement and the emergence of the flower children. (Britannica) The sixties were about assassination, unforgettable fashion, new styles of music, civil rights, gay and women’s liberation, Vietnam, Neil Armstrong landing on the moon, peace marches, sexual freedom, drug experimentation, and Woodstock.
The Beatles managed to be things for all people...they appealed to all musical senses during Beatlemania. Songs such as “I Want to Hold Your Hand” were the types that assured parents they were a “safe” band, yet sexual tension oozed out of even these seemingly harmless lyrics (i.e. built ecstasy in the rising voice of “hand”). “From Me to You,” “I Saw Her Standing There,” and “All My Loving” among others were songs that reaffirmed The Beatles’ sex symbol status. Spitz describes the ensuing female hysteria perfectly: “the work that went into the [Beatles Christmas Show] meant nothing to the female fans, whose aim was to gaze...with tormented eyes, hands clutched arthritically at the sides of their faces, mouths twisted in anguished, blood-curdling screams” (455).
2 It was called the sleeper hit of the decade, and gained extreme notoriety for its breakage of traditional cinematic taboos, in that it showed rather explicitly both sex and especially, raw and brutal violence. It greatly surprised both the audience and Hollywood itself, and has since its release been labelled as both a landmark film and as an iconic masterpiece of cinema. [NB on it’s vs. its. It’s = short for “it is”. Read the sentence through – if “it is” doesn’t fit then you mean “its” not “it’s”] But why did it cause such a stir, and why did it become such a massive hit especially among the younger generations of the audience?
Their controversial lyrics and overall style shocked many parents and older generations. The anti-rock movement became common among older generations, yet the fans still continued to support the band. Society wasn’t only changed by The Beatles, however. Events during the 1960’s often sparked anger or opposition, such as the Vietnam War, which created a new social theme of peace. The Beatles were constantly changing to keep their music new and innovative.
Creating art that focused on the despair and chaos of the depression, many representations of social issues can be seen in the different types of art. Although the thirties was a weary time for most, this did not stop it from having some fun. The popular music at the time included the ‘big band sound’. Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Jimmy Dorsey and Benny Goodman were popular crooners, to name a few. In cinema, “King Kong” was released (one of the original horror/adventure films).
Even if action movies don’t have much of a presence in the top ten highest grossing movies of all time, a good action movie will generally more than break even. Whether the customers are bloodthirsty action movie fans, or censorship advocates watching just to see what filth is being produced, sex and violence sell. Many movies that are more artistic use violence to make intriguing social commentary, or to tell an important historical story. For example, powerful movies like American History X, a story about a young man who has grown up as a Neo-Nazi, and later sees the error of his ways, (by the way, this is an amazing movie, and if you haven’t seen it you really should) can change people’s lives forever, but could not make nearly as strong a statement without using violence as a story telling tool. War movies would also be rather ineffective without showing the death and destruction that surround war.
It was no coincidence that rock ‘n’ roll and the civil rights movement started at the same time. The genre originated from African American music and was greatly discriminated against. Traditional white Americans would target anything bad about it. But as the teenager demographic of the 1950s started increasing the sales of the music, the genre started gaining more popularity. It was the style of Elvis Presley and his new voice that made girls weak in the knees and boys want to be him.
The Fantabulous Forties World War II was a source of social anxiety during the 1940s, but did not hinder the development of media and music. In fact, it provided fresh ideas for the film and theatrical industries. Essential themes appeared in the entertainment world and quite a few notable performers and playwrights of this decade contributed to works still widely received today. Hollywood business remained steady even under the supervision of HUAC (House Un-American Activities Committee) and the OWI (Office of War Information) Bureaus of Censorship and Motion Pictures (created in 1942 to ensure cooperation with the government). Most early-40s war-related films drew different responses from the public.