Societies realization of Rock
The cultural establishment of the 50’s was one of prosperity and rules. Authority figures were respected. There was a right and wrong. There were accepted ways of doing things and white people did what was expected of their class. Children and teenagers of the early ’50’s followed these rules obediently and unquestioningly. Then the middle ’50’s changed lives of Americans forever. They invented rock’n’roll.
The establishment, which included parents, teachers and nearly ALL adults listened to Bill Haley and the? Comets send Rock Around the Clock though transistor radios everywhere in the country. He was different. But it was when Elvis hit the scene that the white establishment in every city and town started to worry. Elvis had long hair and sideburns and looked like a hood. He was a white guy that sang like a black guy. His appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show was so controversial that it was reported he had to be photographed from the waist up. Elvis represented rebellion and something unnatural and obscene.
Although fearful, the establishment predicted that rock’n’roll was a fad that would fade away. But it didn’t. American teenagers loved the rebel style of Elvis. He represented a break from the rules; he sang a new kind of music that was theirs alone. He personified cool. Elvis crossed the lines of age, class, race and culture in a country that was conservative and correct.
He was seen as a delinquent type and was even linked to atheism and communism (although it was later learned of his strong religious and patriotic convictions). The adults were certain that society would become Communistic and certainly was already becoming vulgar and obscene. The country would be doomed.
We have parallels today: rap and punk rock are good examples of this. The kids who are in to defy society’s rules with colored hair, body piercing, dress and activities such as moshing. Many of us look at these kids with a fearful eye wondering what kind will come out of this. Some say this behavior will mold our future’s society into a country of irresponsible misfits. Yes it DOES sound familiar, doesn’t it!