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The 1950's Media Innacuracies And It's Avoidance Of Racial Controversies

1090 words - 4 pages

Each decade in history is unique from any before it. Each has its own controversies, movements, accomplishments, and more that make it different and affect the way we view or title that era. For the first time though, as students and teachers we cannot be sure how to view the decade of the 1950’s, or classify it based on those controversies, movements, or accomplishments. This is because when the 1950’s rolls around, television is becoming a staple of the everyday family. Within television, there are shows called sitcoms and dramas that portray the life of a character, family, or group of friends. Now, when we look back into the 1950’s, we do so by watching the television shows of that time, and those shows give us a rough idea of what life was like then. But the problem is that media reality and actual reality can differ greatly, giving us a skewed idea of the time. In the 1950’s, media mostly portrayed the idealistic life of white Americans, and if it did deviate from that picture perfect family, it still failed to address the real social and political controversy of the time, which was racial controversies and discrimination.The 1950’s was a major turning point for American society. For the first time, suburbia was established. With those cookie cutter neighborhoods came a society of conformists who lived by being consumerists and placed heavy value on material possessions. And even bigger changes were occurring as well. Racial controversies were reaching the breaking point – slavery had been abolished for nearly a hundred years, and African Americans were fast beginning to demand more equality (Bailey 461). The equality advocates of the Civil Rights Movement began to spring up: Rosa parks, Martin Luther King, and the Little Rock Nine. Massive governmental changes were occurring as well, in the famous Brown vs. Board of Education case in 1954, the separate but equal ruling from the Plessey vs. Fergusson case was overturned and declared unconstitutional. This meant the end of desegregation (Brown V. Board of Education). But many areas fought adamantly against these rulings, and this caused much fighting and violence, especially in deep southern states. Essentially, the nation was in chaos over the new developments regarding racial equality. But one would never know that from watching television or movies made in the 50’s.In general, the 1950’s media portrayed only the ideal life of a white, stable family. It “framed a world in which principles of fair play prevailed; judges were sober, lawyers were intelligent and honest; police were calm, understanding, brave, and above all, incorruptible; everyone had a right to freedom of speech; everyone was entitled to the best education” (Himmelstein). Basically, television portrayed a picture perfect life, one that did not actually exist, while it ignored the social turmoil of the time. Particularly, one would not be aware of the racial problems going...

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