Monday, March 28, 2011

Memes About the 50's - Cultural Programming




There is a particularly pervasive trope that is often bandied about the blogosphere...it is a straw man argument, and frankly, I'm tired of it.

This is the meme that many Men are pining for the 1950's. That we think the 50's were utopia, and if only we could 'go back' to that era, everything would be just fine.

Conversely, we have the other side of the coin - that the 1950's were utterly horrible for women, and that it's because the 50's were so horrible that the 60's sexual and cultural revolution was inevitable because of just how bad the 50's were.

Both of these caricature descriptions of that decade are shibboleths that need to be put to rest once and for all.

What the 50's were, was the last hurrah of a pro-family, pro-monogamy, pro-American ideal message transmitted via mass media culture.

The Father role was not undermined in sitcoms...it was upheld and revered. You had a show entitled "Father Knows Best."

The role of housewife was not demeaned, and chaste, virtuous motherhood was the primary female role model.

Children were portrayed as respectful of their elders and well behaved.

This cultural programming did not create a perfect society. Indeed, perfect society is a pipe dream that will never be possible. Ever.

But the mass media culture of the 50's served one very important function: it reinforced the norms and values of an orderly society in which people clearly understood the roles and expectations they were to aspire to when they reached adulthood. It channeled both male and female sexuality into the society building, civilization affirming, nuclear family. It portrayed Patriarchy as benevolent and ideal...an institution to aspire to.

Most shows of the era did in fact follow the general principle that Father does indeed know best. It did not undermine or seek to overthrow the importance and necessity of the role of Dad in the family.

If a show where to be made with that same title by today's Hollywood Babylon, it would most likely be about a pedophile priest defiling young boys with an incessant laugh track and glowing reviews.

Other than that, you'd be hard pressed to find a competent, sage, still married and admirable Father character in the mass media culture today. No, now it's all about girl power, career women, super-mom's with bumbling idiot husbands and fathers who need to be set straight by all the females in their lives...from their prepubescent daughters to their old ladies, representations of family men in today's modern day culture now basically has devolved into "Father Doesn't Know Shit."

Contrast that with today's mass media cultural programming... I guess it's stupid for people who actually value Fatherhood and the institution of the Patriarchal family and the civilized society it engendered to wish we could turn the clock back to that era, eh? Better to "keep it real" and revel in the pervasive depictions of broken families, familial dysfunction, emasculated fathers dominated by super-women, and career women having it all.

Does art imitate life...or life imitate art?


Or does the so-called "art" of our cultural mass media, actually program life?




19 comments:

Samson said...

I have this on my bookshelf: The Way We Never Were, a feminist's sociological look at the 1950s. It's actually a fairly good book, so far as it goes; the author offers statistics and other arguments in defence of the thesis that in fact, the 1950s weren't the halcyon glory days that many folks seem to believe. Out-of-wedlock births were much higher than we might think, for instance.

However, as I say, it's true as far as it goes that the 1950s weren't paradise. But as you point out, nobody should be arguing that they were.

Simon Grey said...

"Does art imitate life...or life imitate art?"

It's hard to tell. There's a correlation, to be sure, but it is difficult to establish causality. I would say that each tends to reinforce the other, and so either has the possibility of beginning an upward or downward spiral, as the case may be.

Keoni Galt said...

Samson - "Out-of-wedlock births were much higher than we might think, for instance."

Of course...but we did not have an endless hit parade of celebrity gossip, tv shows, movies, commercials, billboards, magazines etc. that glorified, rationalized, romanticized and ultimately normalized out of wedlock births as acceptable or even desirable like our mass media culture does now.

The 50's weren't perfect...but the culture at large did not glorify, promote and role model civilization-destroying pathological behavior and attitudes like it does now.

paige said...

Love this.

Freud's Country said...

Actually out of wedlock pregnancies were HIGHER in the 50s than they are NOW. But back then there were no single moms on welfare because you either got married to the father of the child or put the child up for adoption.

Anyway, regarding media propaganda, have seen this 4 hour documentary Century of the Self which tells the history of covert Freudian psychoanalysis being used on the American public since WW1 by the government, corporations, media and popular culture?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UcYBSXgtmKQ

Orville said...

I think most of us overlook the power of social conditioning for good or ill. Take for instance the blog post from Zerohedge about Japanese bureaucracy and the role of social conditioning in Japan, which apparently is very strong.

http://www.zerohedge.com/article/castration-hiv-scandal-and-japanese-bureaucracy-speech-masao-miyamoto-md

Workshy Joe said...

Keoni: I honestly do think alot of MRA guys (not all) want to turn the clock back to the social norms of the past.

One case in point: marriage.

Prediction: I don't think that marriage is going to make a comeback here in the UK. Its going to become an anachronism.

Tarl said...

As the man said: He who controls the present controls the past. It is necessary for today's "progressives" to denigrate the past, otherwise they would be unable to demonstrate that their policies have led to "progress". If the past wasn't Hell, then today isn't better, and tomorrow won't be Heaven!

If you're not a "progressive", of course, you might note that while the 1950s weren't "Heaven", "progressive" policies have increased the amount of Hell at home and abroad. From Detroit to Libya, liberal misrule means chaos, death, and destruction.

Samson said...

Keoni: I honestly do think alot of MRA guys (not all) want to turn the clock back to the social norms of the past.

I do too! To the 1850s, not the 1950s.

CorkyAgain said...


He who controls the present controls the past.


So long as no one bothers to look for themselves and verify what they're being told about the past, yes.

Thankfully, we're not yet to the point where all the history books that can tell us otherwise have been burned.

bevis said...

whoa...that's messed up.
I just started downloading episodes of father knows best off of bit torrent. Are you Scitzo and am I your other personality? No... never mind, I live in New Hampshire.

Therapy Culture said...

Orville, I just read that Japanese doctor's speech on HIV and the Japanese beurarcracy and it made me more suspicious of my own American government than anything else. As well as suspicious of the Japanese "doctor" who gave the speech.

He's a psychoanalyst for god sake!

Psychoananlysis is NOT a science - at all.

And the United States government went to Japan to open up the Japanese market for American beef?!?!

Is it the position of a government to lobby on behalf of a corporation?

The Japanese government was correct in trying to prevent that market from opening up.

And they are also correct for conducting clinical trials on FDA approved American drugs.

Big Pharma does not do enough testing of the drugs they push on us and the Japanese government knows this.

Sorry, but this doctor is just a puppet for Americorps.

Anonymous said...

With more knowledge comes more friction. Our information age is bringing multitudes of other lifestyles into our living rooms, and it is more important than ever to develop filters.

I should mention that there are certain shows that expose the true failures of feminism, notably "Till Debt do us Part" and "Princess" on slice.tv. For the discerning mind, these shows expose manginas and entitlement princesses.

- Lovekraft

anceldelambert said...

At the very least, there is American Dad now, which shows that EVERYBODY is crazy and useless in the modern world, not just fathers.

Steve said...

Other than that, you'd be hard pressed to find a competent, sage, still married and admirable Father character in the mass media culture today.

Hank Hill.

Anonymous said...

"I do too! To the 1850s, not the 1950's"

Serious? Whenever we sheepishly caved in on woman by giving them undue political power,is where we must get back on track to. These myths that woman and man are interchangeable and equal has only very recently popped up on the Civilization radar.

Feminism doesn't merit anything; it's actually a cancer on society. There's no way forward other than cutting it all out, lest the body dies. Then again, if the body dies.....Either way feminism dies, which helps me sleep better at night.

Anonymous said...

@ Therapy Culture - very correct. If i detour slightly from today's topic, but focus on the cultural conditioning aspect, another powerful aspect of this has been GlaxoSmithKline's (big pharma) attempts in the last twenty years to get anti-depressants into the Japanese market.

In short, Japanese culture does not traditionally recognise depression like Western society does - they view it more as a form of melancholy and melancholy has been a pervasive, acceptable emotion in Japan.

So what did they do? Hire marketers, strategy consultants, advertisers and curry favour with Japanese doctors to change Japanese societies perception of the concept of depression. The result - growing drug sales. A truly disturbing aspect of social programming or engineering.

Starets said...

It certainly appears that there has been a decades long public propaganda campaign against the public in the west.
Television, radio, the mainstream media, and "pop culture" all play a large part in it, as does public "education".
It is easy to see much of the agenda; promotion of feminism, multiculturalism and mass immigration, denigration of western culture and western males. There has definitely been a sustained attack on the ideas of education and intellectualism, with a strong promotion of anti-intellectualism. At least since 9-11 there has been a lot of promotion of fear among the public; such as constant fear of acts of terrorism, in contrast to the "Keep Strong and Carry On" messages of the past.

**** ***** said...

i saw 2 movies in the last year that struck a chord...and i realize why. the father/son dynamic was the center piece and functioned as a base, a stronghold, a center point for learning values, morals, characters and life lessons. The films were Tron: Legacy and The Road.

Go watch them. I can't honestly remember the last time a hollywood made film even showed a father and son relationship as poignant and meaningful as these 2 films did.