As many of us who live in the so-called Western World know, "popular culture" is the perceived icons, attitudes, movements, images and ideas that are mainstream to that specific culture. Emerging in the 20th century, more specifically, around the mid 20th century, before going global around the turn of the century, popular culture influences the lives of not only individuals, but also society itself, with the mass media itself heavily influencing what is popular or not.
This page will detail a different outcome of popular culture, from music to film, and everything in-between, we shall look at a different development of culture, beginning in the 1950's.
Note - I have also trivialized pop culture, to make it the easier to understand. Other groups in society exist outside of popular culture, and they shall not be denied their time in the spotlight.
This is also open to anybody who wishes to post ideas or events that shall occur. If you have any questions or ideas that you are not sure of, please post in the talk page.
The 1950's was the middle decade, and a one of transition to. Following WW2 and the subsequent baby boom that ensured, pop culture began to turn away from adults during the decade, and turn towards the teenager. During the beginning of their reign, the teens began to split into a number of different subcultures, each more different than the last. One of the most enduring subcultures of the decade was probably the one more suited to their parents life style, the Hipsters, made their appearance on the centre stage of mainstream pop culture. Swinging to Jazz, Soul/Jazz fusion or Bebop, they created a scene back in the day, with the derogatory term Beatniks, used to attack their laid-back attitude. They often attracted the more liberal, northern U.S teens, and they were often defined by their love of Jazz or any music associated with it, their laid-back humour and lifestyle, recreational use of drugs, and relaxed sex-codes. This subculture would be immediately taken over in the 1960's by the more "cultured" Mods subculture.
As said before, the Hipsters were most popular towards to north, but in the deep south, another popular subculture was forming; the Woppers. Coined in 1957, the subculture itself started in the early 50's, when Doo-wop was being brought to the masses by white singers bringing the sound of African-American blues to a larger crowd. These groups/individuals, such as The Memphis Five and Buddy Holly brought the sound to the south, where it stayed as one of the more popular aspects of deep south culture, next to the fringe genre of Rockabilly and Rock'n'Roll. The south, alongside the music, also experience a clothing revolution during the decade, with the teens moving away from expensive clothing and more towards cheap suits and ties, which dominated the Doo-wop culture for some time afterwards.Meanwhile, over in the United Kingdom, an old genre was being revived thanks to the Skiffle movement. Skiffle, an early form of Jazz and Blues found in the American deep south, was often played with unconventional instruments such as jugs, tea chest bass, cigar-box fiddles, and musical saws. This resurgence in popularity, was thrown to its height in 1959, with artists such as Lonnie Donegan and bands such as The Vipers Skiffle Group, later known simply as The Vipers. However, as Skiffle declined in popularity, and an insurgence of an upcoming genre, Hard Jazz, many of the Skiffle players of the 50's moved onto new or up-and-coming genres. One of these bands, a small Hard Jazz band from Liverpool, The Quarrymen, began to get popular on a national level, with many of their songs being hold-overs from an older age.
Meanwhile, the art of film-making was increasingly getting lower, with many studios taking their shot at move making. It was here in the newly grown market in which films were made for pop culture, marketing towards mainly the hipsters and their laid back, more mellow view of the world. This resulted in a downfall of action, thriller and horror films marketed primarily to teens, which affected directors such as Alfred Hitchcock, who directed the first suspense films during the 40's and 50's. His last film before retiring, Rear Window, closed to less than spectacular reviews. However, in retrospect, many now view his films a masterpiece, and was decorated highly following his death in 1983.
Oscars Best Picture Winners
- 1950 - All the King's Men
- 1951 - All About Eve
- 1952 - An American in Paris
- 1953 - The Quiet Man
- 1954 - Julius Caesar
- 1955 - Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
- 1956 - The Ten Commandments
- 1957 - Giant
- 1958 - 12 Angry Men
- 1959 - Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
1960'sFollowing the rise of a slew of new genres, mainly those related to Jazz, Soul and Rock'n'Roll, it was time that the genre's themselves to split into sub-genres. Jazz began to diverge on the grounds of the ferocity of the music, with the more heavy aspects of the genre being put under the label of Hard Jazz. Bands like The Quarrymen and The Rolling Stones dominated the middle of the decade before they lost their mainstream success due to the rise of Synthetic Jazz and Metallic Rock. Soul on the other hand, made a complete split from its immediate predecessor, Jazz, and had found mainstream success with the rise of the Mods, a relatively small subculture originating in Britain during the 1950's, Dominating their lives was scooters (usually modified), high style fashion, amphetamines and the popularity of Soul, Beat Music, and later, Hard or Synthetic Jazz in the sub culture.
Around the world, new singers, acts and bands were emerging from the crowd; in Britain, The Quarrymen, The Who and The Rolling Stones were dominating the chart, each with their respective styles and songs, and constantly out-doing each other on the charts. In America, during the first half of the decade, Soul singers such as Marvin Gaye and quartets like The Four Tops topped the charts, followed by other acts like the Country superstar Johnny Cash and Surf Rock bands like The Atlantics and The Riders.Meanwhile, in the southern hemisphere, Surf Rock was also developing as a major national force in Australia and New Zealand. In 1964, The Riders visited Australia, touring the east coast to find the Australian teens and young-adults developing a Surfing sub culture, much like the one across the American west coast. Recognized by their hot rods, love of surfing and Surf Rock, the sub culture exploded during the early 60's. This force was defeated however, by the Australian band Billy Thorpe and The Aztecs (known as simply The Aztecs following 1967), who managed to top the chart in their home country in 1964 with their cover of Poison Ivy, originally recorded in 1959.
Towards the end of the decade, the dominance of Soul based music began to fade as Rock'n'Roll began to take a new shape, following on from the more rigid, tough sound of Hard Jazz; early forms of Metallic Rock. This genre was marketed towards the counter-culture, a loosely defined group that went against, and even attacked mainstream pop culture, as a harsher alternative to the up-beat, almost Pop sounding Rock'n'Roll.In 1968, one of the biggest stars not only in America, but also the world, was discovered. Releasing his album titled Lie, it was a Folk/early Metallic Rock song hybrid, that made a picture of the world via the views of this singer. Who was he? He was the future lead singer of the Metallic Rock band, World Mind, Charles Manson. A small time singer from California, he was arrest two times in the 1950's before leaving to join the counter-culture of the 1960's. Experiments with drugs occured, however, he continued trying to release his songs to the public, experimenting with different sounds and genres along the way. Finally managing to produce and tape his songs in 1967, by releasing it in 1968, the changing world helped catapult him to stardom, with an influx of new popular Rock and Folk songs helping his rise. Towards the end of 1968, even the declining Mods called for him to be featured in the 1969 Grammy Awards. These calls were answered, however, he lost the race for "Best Contemporary-Pop Vocal Performance for Males", due to his song, Look At Your Game Girl, losing to The Memphis Five's Blues ballad, Lovin' From Memphis to You.
In the realm of film-making, gradual change was occurring from the mellow, more drama filled decade of the 1950's, to a more psychological, thriller based metric. This was witnessed in the first year of the decade with the American psychological thriller, Gein. Loosly based off of the serial killer Ed Gein, it shows a highly dramatized version of his life, leading up to his arrest in 1957. A spiritual successor was released 6 years later, this time based on the 1959 book, Psycho. Directed by the legendary John Sturges, who also directed The Great Escape, and would go onto direct the thriller film, Jaws, he dropped the gratuitous violence witnessed in Gein, and inserted an open ending, leading to the viewers not knowing if the antagonist, Norman Bates, truly was the killer.Towards the end of the decade, a gradual move away from traditional horror and drama was tacking place, and the gap that formed was eventually filled with Science Fiction (Sci-Fi). At the height of the Sci-Fi boom in the late 1960's, two of the highest grossing films of the decade were released, both in 1968; The Planet of the Apes and Nightfall. The Planet of the Apes was written, directed and produced by esteemed television host and occasional writer, Rod Serling. Despite having an high budget of 11 million dollar, mostly used on props, costumes and special effects, the film was well received, and catapulted the new director to heights he never seen before. In the 1969 Academy Awards, the film won the categories for best visual effects, costume design and original score. Nightfall on the other hand, was directed and co-written by the famed Stanley Kubrick, who had also directed Spartacus in 1960, and Dr. Stangelove in 1964. Adapted from the novel Nightfall, written by Issac Asimov who also co-wrote the film, it was the biggest box-office success of the year, and received critical praise mostly due to its special effects, and its story, an allegory for American society in the late 1960's. At the 1969 Academy awards, it was put up for a number of awards, winning only one, the best original screenplay.