Friday, November 5, 2010

5 November 1956 “1950’s: America’s Moral Crisis”

Today we are going to look at the beginning of an article in one of my 1957 issues of Better Homes & Gardens. I know it is not 57 yet, but I found it an interesting article. Simply click to enlarge. It is about the continuing discussion of sexuality and moral decline in happening as the post WWII years wane.
sexarticle1 sexarticle2
I think one thing I find interesting is that with the number of generations behind us since sexual liberation, wouldn’t things become less sexually centered? It seems if one has taken off the veil of taboo and stripped the shock and awe of it all, why on earth has it become almost the be all end all?
I don’t find myself a prude. I know sexuality is important to the human mind and body, but it is hardly the entire package. I wonder why, since we have lost such restricted codes of morality, that we still seemed to be So focused on it. In a way that one has little to think of BUT it. One would think, ‘hey sexuality, no big deal. Let’s spend more time on art, literature, talking, other subjects”. This, however, seems to be the opposite of what has happened since WWII to today and really since WWI.
I think the main cause of this is not our own ‘animal attitudes’ but in fact: Advertising. We live in a world today, even more so than 1950’s, where advertising is literally in every aspect of our life. Our clothes are walking billboards. Our phones send images and texts with little logo’s “Sent by PalmPre” or “Sent to you by Apple I-Pad”. The very post-it-note society we have made in which we glibly tell one another the shopping list of our lives, “At the doctors, had a baby, in the hospital, bought new shoes” are lumped together and had delivered with the bow of marketing stamped right on.
Even the shows we watch on TV/internet are basically now advertisements disguised as entertainment. Shows, due to the ability to ‘shut off’ the commercial, have literally written into them the ads for the product. Also, what a star wears, talks on, drives, listens to, it is all for sale. Christmas music at stores at the holidays, happy background music? Nope, that’s for sale too, there is the compilation cd 9.95 please pay at the register with your purchases.
So, sometime in the mid 1960’s Madison avenue began to realize that the intense hippy/sexual revolution was a wonderful gift of a selling point. Though the original hippys were actually counter-culture in that they were not wanting to BUY and be PLUGGED IN, this was quickly replaced by the sleek quick way sex was sold to a generation. Want to be hip and cool and counter culture? Well, buy these products, this lifestyle.
And lifestyle branding began and with that the underlying power of sexuality has remained. And why has it? Because, despite ‘Revolution’ having happened decades ago, it is still a hot-point. And anything that draws attention, rather good or bad, is the perfect tool to sell. Why do you think salesmen used to wear the loud sports coat and the slick hair? They became a joke of a style but it caught your attention, rather good or bad, you were talking about it, responding to it.
I think the only way that ‘sexuality’ as an “in your face” atitude will go away, is if we literally thought about and acted differently in our day to day life. The very concept of how we buy, shop, entertain, talk, converse, live,  is so imbedded with it all, how could it end? And now with the internet, it has fanned the fuel of the fire. Even if we believe one thing and tell our children, “no” they are still getting a text or a sext the next second, bombarded with it all online and tv and then we, the parents, are just as much plugged in. “Do as we say not as we Do”: we know how well that philosophy works.
Now for me, I have no children, so I don’t have to worry about their distorted view of sexuality. This is honestly how I see much of what is feed to kids, tweens, teens, and youth today. And again, it isn’t that I am a prude. But, I also think things such as Art, Books, Innocence, Imagination, Science, learning, and just general fun (hiking, fishing, horses what have you) are just as important as sexuality. Yet what is the percentage of those things compared with the percentage of sexuality shown and bombarding young people today?
Is there some evil agenda that is out to want to ‘take over our kids’? Some bad guy in a black hat rubbing his hands together and twisting his handlebar moustache, waiting to tie our children to the rail road tracks? No, and the real ‘evil villain’ is sadly , the very consumer society we all buy into and don’t want to let go of, because quite frankly it is easy.
People may want to blame various groups, or aspects of society, but we all contribute to the over all society of marketing and consumerism and that is where the devil really lies. The big stores, the oil companies (all of which petroleum is needed for everything including the computer screen you are now reading this one, the plastics that make up the computer and most of your home and cars, and of course all the electricity to power the whole kit and caboodle). We can rant and rave about various issues but honestly, the only way we could really be more in control of what our children do and experience is to have more to do with our own world. We would have to unplug some, pay more attention, turn away from that and to each other. But will that happen, most likely not. It is much easier to just stay plugged in and go forward.
To really address the  issue and face it head on we would have to allow ourselves to become not only a little uncomfortable, but to really look at ourselves in the mirror. It is much easier, I know, to want to blame others. We always want a scape-goat, its easier. It’s that political parties fault. Its the president, its the schools, its' tv. But, in my own opinion, all of that  is part of the make up our current society and this  goes hand in had with the ‘moral decline’ in sexuality.  The very way in which we live is part of the many problems in which we always complain. The very twisted view of constant overtly sexualized imagery (often quite negative towards women) is part and parcel with a plugged in, consuming life. We may be on this side or that on taxes, republicans, democrats, and so on, but that is all encompassed in the very overly commercialized world in which we live. Even the 1966 Charlie Brown Christmas special shows the writing on the wall of our commercialization. It is funny that this simple message now only stands as a way to sell more items. “Yeah, I get it, poor Charlie Brown…Oh, a plastic Charlie Brown Tree, oh decorations with the characters on it, gimme gimmme”. The irony, when we look round, is every where to see.
Even the lessening in people’s general attitude towards religion, rather Christian or what have you, has really been replaced by advertising. The TV, the Media and Shopping IS the new religion.  It is the focal point of community, what we talk about, where we meet, what we do. Even if some were very religious you can bet that they are still very much a part of that system which, in a sense, has been replacing the church/synagogue/religious meeting house for generations. If they shop, text, and support the system that uses overseas labor/materials at the expense of our own, it still is adding to what they may not like about the society in which they live. And it still supports the increased sexualized behavior, as that will continue to be the main selling point in advertising.
Every person has his or her own view of what sexual morality may be. Even un-religious parents still have a standard of what they feel is appropriate for what their child sees, hears and then reacts to. I think the sad point is that all that separates all the ‘groups’ on issues such as these are merely there and reinforced by the very society that needs these separations. Having more ‘groups’ = a larger customer base. And groups anger and hatred towards one another = free advertising. Because advertising is merely talking about it, noticing it, bringing it up. Even our ‘news programs’ and I use that term VERY loosely, are simply platforms for shouted opinions all the while creating a marketing stream to the various sites to buy things to support whatever side of the fence you are on. While we are wearing the labels of the companies we are supporting on our clothing, shoes, our children, and fighting with one another, we are also paying into and supporting that very system. It is making money off our passionate feelings either for or against various topics, including sexuality.
I think what makes me sad about most issues such as this, is the hypocrisy of the system which both supports and then pretends to be appalled by it. This allows the fanning of the flames of both sides and collecting up our money from the subsequent reactions. It makes me feel as if most of us really, rather we have different religious or ethnic bases, really do want the same thing. Yet we can’t ever meet on realistic ground to do so. And because of that will continue to be separated only to make it easier to be sold to.
As many of my readers know I often get a rant going and can’t help but get on my soapbox. But I am finding, as this second year of  1950’s living ends, my passion for it wane. It isn’t that I don’t care, but I am beginning to see again how even my outrage and discussion of it is merely a part of a larger problem. It has made me sort of step back AGAIN (I continue down this rabbit hole of self-discovery) and view my outrage with a sad smile. I believe in my desire for a changed world, but I also now see some of the futility of it. That in a way, our outrage and heated discussions are merely all fed into that same system that has us simply buying away our  values, pride, and ideals of a human community. Charlie Brown can be discouraged by the plastic shining commercialized world around him, but are we all prepared to do, as the other children did at the end, and come to realize it ourselves? I don’t know, maybe not. And if so, what does that mean for me? Feeling even more disconnect with the world around me, greater fear and sadness for my own country, which I love but feel slipping away; I’m not sure.
Well, I hope you enjoy the first part of this article from 1957 and I will include the rest in my next post (Monday, as tomorrow is site-day and Sunday is Q & A day).
And as always, Happy Homemaking.
 Search The Apron Revolution