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America in the 1960s - Essay Example

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Summary
In the paper “America in the 1960s” the author analyzes a decade marred by assassinations, riots, and national political dissent in the USA. One of the most influential aspects of growing up in the 1960s was the Civil Rights movement and its portrayal on television.
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America in the 1960s
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America in the 1960s

Download file to see previous pages... One of the most influential aspects of growing up in the 1950s was the Civil Rights movement. America had experienced the front line news for the first time in its history. There was a daily dissemination of the atrocities that were committed by governmental agencies around the country. These images had a dual role in the molding of the youth of the 1950s. It was able to portray the discrimination against blacks in detail and also able to tell the story of the government's involvement in the anti-movement activities. These were the seeds of the anti-government feeling in the teenagers of the 1960s. Television was able to paint the government with a brush of mistrust as America was shown pictures of blacks facing physical abuse, while it told a story of government infiltration. In fact, "Southern Baptists had resisted federal civil rights legislation not necessarily because they were racists but because they sincerely opposed federal intrusion into families and communities" (Saletan 21). This factor was able to develop an anti-government feeling across a wide spectrum of America. The distrust of government went beyond the political and social structure and into the affluence of the age. This affluence resulted in greater education and employment opportunities than at any other period in US history. This access also brought with it a greater freedom of thinking that was exemplified by the multitude of philosophies that flourished during this era. The beat generation of the 1950s had given way to the hippie movement. Hippies have been portrayed as beatniks with an attitude. According to Flexner et al., "If you liked hippies you called them flower children and approved of their flower power and love is slogans; if you hated them you called them beatniks, but it was the word hippies that most people used most often, and beats, hipsters, and hippies had all become one in the public mind". This again was the result of television's need to homogenize a subject and make it understandable to the American public. The end of the 1950s presented America with a view of Maynard G. Krebs in the hit sitcom Dobie Gillis. Krebs was idolized for his seemingly innocuous character that promoted dropping out of employment and mainstream thought. However, young people were being handed a teenage idol that would become the pattern for anti-establishment beliefs and behavior.
Other teenage idols came in the forms of Beaver Cleaver, Eddie Haskell, and Andy Griffith. These sitcoms verified in the teenage mind that there was an America that was free from crime and flush with material wealth. However, examining these weekly television shows indicate that they contributed to the disillusionment of America. They portrayed a minority of white Americans who were able to reap the benefits of the post World War II economy. The youth of the 1950s fell into one of two classes; those that were a part of the new America and those that had been left behind. ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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