American Youth In The 1960s Essay

1929 words - 8 pages

America has in a short time been established as a nation that symbolizes acceptance and change. It has progressed into a country of equality that finds its foundation in its personal freedoms and the progressive movement of technology, politics, economics, social views, ethics and so forth since the American Revolution. It has been changing rapidly since the influx of immigrants that came here before the Revolution. The 1950s were a happy time. I Love Lucy and Leave It To Beaver were on television. The Everly Brothers, Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry and Elvis Presley were popular acts in music. The youth movement of the 1960s was necessary in order for America to progress in social, political, ...view middle of the document...

There is a defining difference between being happy in the present moment and being satisfied. It is healthy to maintain a state of mind where you are content with life but in the 1950s people were satisfied. It is alright to be content as one makes progress but in the words of Irish playwright, George Bernard Shaw, ““As long as I have a want, I have a reason for living. Satisfaction is death. ” Also, to more effectively paint a picture of the kind of ambitious nature that makes America so strong an even more fitting quote would be from Thomas Edison: “Restlessness is discontent and discontent is the first necessity of progress. Show me a thoroughly satisfied man and I will show you a failure.” So, coming from the man who invented electricity, though the 1950s was in many ways a pleasant time, it could be construed that if he would have been alive during that era he might have viewed the continuation of 1950s lifestyle a failure.
Not only were people satisfied with this unprogressive, mundane lifestyle. Underneath all the utopian paintings of Middle America there was the racism of segregation and the sexism that was synonymous with the housewife staying at home to tend to the house while the man makes the money. Kids of this era had grown accustomed to and were comfortable with it. Malvina Reynolds summed up the uniformity and plasticity of the 1950s in her 1962 song Little Boxes, shes speaks of how the 50s were a cookie cutter type of life. There was little variety in the way people lived. It talks about how people were successful but had no perspective on life. The first two verses are a good summary of the songs message:
Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes made of ticky tacky,1
Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes all the same.
There's a green one and a pink one
And a blue one and a yellow one,
And they're all made out of ticky tacky
And they all look just the same.

And the people in the houses
All went to the university,
Where they were put in boxes
And they came out all the same,
And there's doctors and lawyers,
And business executives,
And they're all made out of ticky tacky
And they all look just the same.
The youth of the 1950s had a sense of what was expected to become of them. They knew how their parents lived and how life was around them. But they never had that great of a chance to know who they were personally. White youth of the 1950s were some of the wealthiest kids in America’s history and they had plenty of free time. Movies and comic books were a big deal to youth and they played a role in young kids that were becoming teenagers in the 1960s to see that there were important issues that needed to be addressed and there were ways to live that didn’t promote the current complacency. This brought about a new era of personal identity and freedom of expression. The youth of the 50s weren’t getting the opportunity they needed to fully become their own person, so they ushered in a new era to bring about the search...

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