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The 50s: An Examination-English 101 Journal

Posted by Elle Latham on March 10, 2013 at 5:20 PM

What we miss about the 50s, according to Stephanie Coontz, is the facade that was portrayed on TV and in our daily lives. We saw on our favorite TV shows a glimpse of what we wanted to be. It was the quintessential nuclear family. It was the mother doing housework, the working dad who knew best, and the perfect little family of white people. Minorities weren't represented but the music of that era presented a change that would occur in the 60s with the civil rights movement. There was a bunch of competition between suburban families. You always wanted what your neighbor had. Appliances were introduced and jobs were available for people with a minimal amount of education.

This took place after the war and people needed to build up an illusion while still pretending to hold on to their morals. Pregnancy was not shown on TV until the groundbreaking series I Love Lucy which was not the most flattering portrayal of married life in that the wife was always in trouble and her husband had to control her and keep her from working. But it was realistic for what the expectations were in that time period.

What we don’t miss is the very prevalent racism and sexism that permeated throughout the decade but it’s not like they don't exist anymore. There are a lot of issues with every decade so nostalgia is not a good idea when you really think about it. You like certain things but you would never actually go back. The grass is always greener on the other side. It’s best to just be content with where you are now than to retreat into the past.

In conclusion, it seems that the times were changing but what you were left with were twisted ideals and a world that was great for some people yet downright terrifying for the rest. While so much good was happening to the White men of the time, the women and minorities were being stifled and treated as second class citizens. (Be it ignoring a husband’s abuse of his wife or denying Black men and women the basic rights to drink from the same fountain and go to the same schools and sit in the front of the bus.) When it comes down to it, what we really miss about the 50s is the Amercan Dream that was shown but not given to us because it never really existed in the first place. It was only a fantasy that never materialized into reality.


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