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Pop Culture In "Where Are You Going? Where Have You Been?"

1420 words - 6 pages

Whether it is the top movie at the box office this weekend, the song that is soaring up the Top 40 charts, the most widely read book or the highest rated television show, pop culture is always changing and influencing the targeted generation. Throughout the 50s and 60s North America went through many different changes with the introduction of a new style of music and movies, lead by Elvis Presley and his shocking dance moves. Sex appeal was becoming popular and pop culture was beginning to affect how people think on a large scale. In the short story "Where are you going, Where have you been?", written by Joyce Carol Oates, the author attempts to personify Bob Dylan and Elvis Presley as different characters in the story, Ellie and Arnold in particular. She does this to help the reader better understand her view of pop culture. The physical descriptions of Ellie and Arnold from the story are a description of how the author views Presley and Dylan and that she believes the pop culture they helped create is negative.Throughout the 1950s Elvis Presley controlled the radio air waves with his hit songs. His dance moves were a major leap in the other direction of what was considered normal before his time. His fan base grew rapidly and many youths feel into the pop culture craze he helped start. A sharp comparison is visible between Ellie from the short story and the physical look of Presley. With his fair brown hair, the lock of hair that fell over his forehead, his distinct sideburns, and his shirt collar that was turned up all around with the very tips of the collar pointed out past his chin his description was the perfect one to fit Presley. During the 50s Presley was dedicated to his music and his sex appeal and looks help him push the limit on what was acceptable. "The music was always in the background, like music at a church service; it was something to depend upon". The youths of the time were always listening to music and much of what they did was influenced by the music they listened to. Whether it was going to a certain mall, eating at a certain restaurant or hanging out with a certain group of people. During the 20s and 30s women were required to stay home most of the time, prepare dinner, clean the house, and cover themselves from head to toe with as much clothing as they could when they went out into public. Considering the time at which the author was born, 1938, we can assume that her upbringing involved her following the different restriction put on women in this time period. Since a young age she was required to cover as much skin as possible the idea of wearing the least amount of clothes as you possibly could seems foreign to her and could be one of the reasons she disliked the idea of the style of pop culture Presley was creating. During Presley's time short shorts and tank tops were in fashion and every girl you looked at was wearing one or the other if not the two. The author must have looked at the clothes the youth were wearing...

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