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[<<] 1950s [>>]

By year: 1950 - 1951 - 1952 - 1953 - 1954 - 1955 - 1956 - 1957 - 1958 - 1959

Trends in cinema: Italian neorealism - grind house theatres (USA) - arthouse theatres (USA)

Trends in politics: McCarthyism

Trends in design: Atomic Age - Googie space age - Mid-century modern - Jet Age

Trends in literary culture: Beat Generation - Existentialism - Lettrism - Situationism - Grove press publishing house

Trends in music: vinyl records become commonplace - bebop - Rhythm and Blues - start of rock music - soul music - musique concrète - twist

Trends in subcultures: start of the teenager and youth culture - biker subcultures - juvenile delinquency - EC Comics (USA)

Trends in media: television as mass medium

Books: The Catcher in the Rye (1951) - Story of O (1954) - The Image (1956) - Naked Lunch (1959) - Hollywood Babylon (1959)

Films: Un Chant d'amour (1950) - Glen or Glenda? - (1953) - The Wild One (1953) - Rear Window (1954) - Garden of Eden - (1955) - Rebel Without a Cause - (1955) - ...And God Created Woman - (1956) - Baby Doll (1956) - Eyes without a Face (1959) - The Immoral Mr. Teas (1959) - Pickpocket (1959)

Ford Atmos (1954) concept car


The 1950sThe 1950s were also marked with a rapid rise in conflict with the United States and the Soviet Union that would heighten the Cold War to an unprecedented level which would include the Arms Race, Space Race, McCarthyism, and Korean War. Stalin's death in 1953 left an enormous impact in Eastern Europe that forced the Soviet Union to create more liberal policies internally and externally. The rise of Suburbia as well as the growing conflict with the East are the two generally accepted reasons for the conservative domination of this decade. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1950s#Events_and_No. [Mar 2006]


The Existentialists had a profound influence upon subcultural development. The emphasis on freedom of the individual influenced the beats in America and Britain and this version of existential bohemianism continued through the 1950s and into the 60s under the guise of the beat generation. Beards and longer hair returned in another attempt at returning to the image of peacetime man and the normality which had existed before the two wars. At the same time, as a result of American post-war prosperity, a new identity emerged for youth subculture: the teenager.

Jazz culture was transformed, by way of Rhythm and Blues into Rock and Roll culture. At the same time, jazz culture itself continued but changed into a more respected form, no longer necessarily associated with wild behaviour and criminality.

From the 1950s onward society noticed an increase in street gang culture, random vandalism and graffiti. Sociologists, psychologists, social workers and judges all had theories as to what was causing the increase to urban trouble but the consensus has generally tended to be that the modern urban environment offers all the bright lights and benefits of the modern world but often provides working class youths with little in reality. This theory and others were parodied in the musical West Side Story (based on Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliette) in song lyrics such as Jet Song, America, and Gee, Officer Krupke.

As American rock and roll arrived in Great Britain a subculture grew around it. Some of the British post-war street youths hanging around bombsites in urban areas and getting drawn into petty crime began to dress in a variation of the zoot suit style called a drape suit with a country style bootlace tie, winklepicker shoes, drainpipe trousers, and Elvis Presley style slicked hair. These youths were called Teddy boys. Their girlfriends would usually wear, for a night out dancing at the palais, the same sort of poodle skirts and crinolines their counterparts in America would wear. For day-to-day wear there was a trend toward girls wearing slacks or jeans. At the time the idea of girls wearing trousers and boys taking time over their hairstyle was socially shocking to many people.

British youth divided into factions. There were the modern jazz kids, the trad jazz kids, the rock and roll teenagers and the skiffle craze. Coffee bars were a meeting place for all the types of youth and the coolest ones were in Soho, London, England.

In Britain, the political side of the Beat Generation was the anti-nuclear movement led by CND. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_subcultures_in_the_20th_century [Dec 2004]

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