Influence of Rock and Roll and Television on American Society in the 1950s

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The 1950s was referred to as the ‘Golden Age’, during this time America was trying to rebuild society because of the war. This was a time for people to unite and come up with ideas that would recover society. Then came the 50s which was significant because it introduced rock and roll and television. Baby boomers around this time period were a big part because they were the audience to rock and roll and television. Rock and roll was a mix of blues and country music, the upbeat of the music is what got the youth hooked. Rock and roll gave a chance to the youth to express their feelings and change behavior. Secondly, television became relevant, because televisions were in development. People would go to the theaters to watch, but with a television set, they were able to watch at home. Television had a variety of shows to choose from like comedy, news, drama, and action. Millions of people were intrigued by rock and roll and television which positively influenced them. Rock and roll and television were important in the 1950s because it helped rebuild American society as well.

Elvis Presley was one of the main rock and roll artists during the 50s, through his rebellious lyrics he inspired the youth to be expressive. Presley wrote the song ‘Big Boss Man’, which became very popular. “Big Boss man, why can’t you hear me when I call? All right, you know you ain’t so big, I said you're just tall that’s all, all right” (Presley). Presley uses 'Big Boss Man' as a person that tells him what to do. But in the lyrics shown he means that the ‘Big Boss Man’ is just a tall man that thinks he has control. These lyrics inspired the youth because the way Presley interpreted the song, he showed that he was not scared and was staying strong. Presley wrote another hit single titled, ‘Blue Suede Shoes’, that was about a pair of suede shoes: “Well, you can knock me down, step in my face, slander my name all over the place, do anything that you wanna do. But uh-oh honey, lay off of them shoes. And don’t you step on my blue suede shoes” (Presley). Elvis claimed that he can get beat up as long as his blue suede shoes do not get ruined. Elvis showed a wild tone through the way he talked about no matter what happens to him, he does not want his shoes to be touched. Suede shoes during this time were significant because not everyone had them and wanted to keep them as clean as possible. Presley caught the attention of the youth because he wrote a song about something that people wanted but not everyone can have.

Television sets improved the 50s because people were able to stay at home with their own television set that had colored content. Peter Lev was a man who lived during the 50s and experienced the impact of television: “In 1950, more than 7.3 million TV sets were sold in the United States, and US TV sales were never less than 5 million in the years 1950-1959. Poll results released by Paramount in 1950 revealed that families with television in the home decreased their film-going by 20-30 percent” (Lev). The statistics showed since there were millions of television sets sold, less families went to the theaters. Television sets offered variety shows, so therefore, going to the theaters became rare. Television sets were more convenient since families did not have to go out to watch TV when they had access to it at home. By 1954, there were 26 million TV homes, televisions also differed in size and color was established, which caused theaters to be lost in interest (Wasko). Television sets drew the people in because it offered different sizes which can be pretty convenient because not everyone would want the same size. Colored films played a huge role because before films were in black and white, so having color would be more enjoyable to the audience.

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Rock and roll positively influenced everyone because it showed that skin color did not matter. Rock and roll was a social outlet, during this time America was segregated, but because of rock and roll, blacks and whites played with each other, recorded songs together, and played on each other’s radio stations. Rock and roll showed an optimistic side of society at this time because skin color did not matter when it came to the genre. Whites and blacks got along well because they made songs together and their songs made it on each other’s radio stations. With celebrities spreading this message across, discrimination would decrease because they had a large amount of fans, and those fans would be inspired enough to change. This was a key part of the 1950s because it helped shaped American society by trying to show everyone that race does not matter. There were many rock and roll rock stars such as Buddy Holly who would let the African Americans open for their performance, the stars consisted of Chuck Berry and Chubby Checker, they would perform for whites. Buddy Holly showed a good example of being non-discriminatory, because he allowed black artists Chuck Berry and Chubby Checker to perform for a white crowd. This showed a positive impact on the people because it showed that the African Americans were just as capable of making music as whites. Rock and roll was not only a new genre of music but showed morals and good influence. This helped shaped American Society because both sides were willing to make a change not being discriminatory towards others, they are showing that no matter what the color of skin is, everyone can do whatever they desire.

Television was significant because it offered a variety of shows for people to watch which brought Americans together. For example, ‘I Love Lucy’ was one of the most popular shows of the 50s, since it brought a huge inspiration to many people. “The ever-potent magic of the Lucy phenomenon is instantly recognizable to each successive generation of children, and the comfort it generates stays with them as they mature into adults and beyond. Lucy is neither male nor female; rather, it is about wanting to belong, about being loved, about wrestling with our own selfish impulses-and our own egos-in order to peacefully co-exist with others. It is about familiarity and bringing out the best in ourselves and those we interact with, and in turn about seeing others' weaknesses and protecting them. It is about support, friendship and understanding. It is about human nature” (Gilbert). ‘I Love Lucy’ was one of the top shows of the 50s and had very important messages that people carried on throughout their lives. With this show was televised, it spread the message to many people and inspire. ‘I Love Lucy’ was a show that was worth given a chance to watch because the 50s was a time of racism, the aftermath of World War II, and rebuilding society. It showed that people can be themselves without judgement and that everyone should love one another despite gender, appearance, and personality. Many families owned a television set and would watch shows together. For instance, Wells was a lady that lived through this time and she shared her experiences with television: “Kept up with certain shows, we watched them for sure, did not want to miss one show, worked the whole evening so we can be ready to watch, we stop at afternoon to watch TV” (Wells). When television sets came out, Wells and her family would watch every single episode of a show that was aired on. Television brought her family together because they watched the entirety of shows, and made sure that they did not miss an episode. The family time spent was momentous because it was a break from the strict values in the household. This included wives that had to do a majority of chores, the kids that had jobs and school. Television was pivotal because it was a way for families to spend time with each other and was a payoff to all the work surrounding each family.

Rock and roll and television helped shape American society because they showed good morals and brought everyone together. Rock and roll introduced a new genre of music and meaning. Rock and roll had the youth hooked because it allowed them to express their feelings and be free. This genre also introduced the idea of different races to collaborate with each other, which was important because for years everyone stuck to the same beliefs about being racist and exclusive to others. Because of rock and roll millions of people would be inspired to change since they saw their idols changed the way of thinking. Rock and roll would forever change America because it showed that everyone is capable of success despite appearance and that you can convey your feelings through writing. Television brought a lot to the table because people had access to shows at home and would gain influence from them. It wasn’t only people that experienced tv, there were families that witnessed it together. This would impact America because family life was very strict but thanks to television it gave them a chance to spend time with each other. People would gain influence from shows like ‘I Love Lucy’ because it showed that everyone should accept and love one another despite appearance or gender.

Looking towards the future, rock and roll has made a big impact because in all types of music today different races collaborate and continue to inspire. Without rock and roll musicians of different races would rarely get together. Because of the big following of rock and roll had it would make people accept different races which made them okay with it. Also, television forever changed American society, because there was access to shows to watch with family and friends. Without the invention of television sets family life at home would still be strict and the idea of ‘family time’ would not be much thought of. Television was resourceful because there was a variety shows to pick from in which people that had the same interests could watch and spend time together. Pop culture in the 50s was really the ‘Golden Age’ because American society was rebuilt with positivity and innovative thinking.

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Influence of Rock and Roll and Television on American Society in the 1950s. (2023, March 01). Edubirdie. Retrieved April 14, 2024, from
“Influence of Rock and Roll and Television on American Society in the 1950s.” Edubirdie, 01 Mar. 2023,
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