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A Zillenial on the Fifties...

The golden age of Hollywood. The decade that brought us iconic women, iconic fashion and plenty of iconic movies. Marilyn and the grate; Debbie Reynolds wishing us all a good morning; Hepburn in Rome, falling in love with an american newsreader. Back in the real world, we were falling in love with James Dean, the Labour party and NATO. The glowing years have always seemed more beautiful times, which appears to be an opinion that most teens share.


Donald O'Connor, Debbie Reynolds
and Gene Kelly
After watching 'Singing in the Rain' (a revolutionary movie musical from 1952) I had a lengthy conversation with my friends about how much better the fifties were (specifically Gene Kelly!) Considering neither of us were anywhere near alive back then, both of us were pretty assured of how tight we are. When I asked other zillenials, words they used to describe those years were 'classy', 'dramatic' and 'romantic'. Many people also said that they felt like they were born in the wrong generation: wishing they'd been alive for the fifties.

But do we only want to live in our romanticised idea of the decade? Was it really as magnificent as everyone seems to believe?


An example of the sgregation
The sense of community everyone imagines was actually compromised by disease for big parts of the fifties. In 1952, the worst epidemic of polio ever recorded broke out, killing over 3,000 people. That meant some theatres were closed, swimming pools shut and public transport ultimately feared. For three years, children and parents alike lived in fear of the disease: until a vaccine was found in 1955! This restored everyone's zest for life, repopulating diners and drive in cinemas all over the nation.


Parks in jail in 1955
However, all of the all singing all dancing love that we seem to envision wan't exactly there. Racism and segregation were both massively relevant. Racial segregation meant that black and white people were split up from each other in everyday activities and places. There were separate sections of restaurants, different drinking fountains and nobody was allowed to swim together. Even on buses, black people were expected to give up their seats when a white person was stood up... which led to Rosa Parks' famous protest. Instead of getting up so someone else could occupy her seat, she remained sat down, leading to her arrest. That bravery led to a bus boycott which seriously damaged the public service industry. It gave the message that people weren't going to stand for the segregation anymore.


The dreammm!
The fifties also comes with the idea of amazing romance. Nowadays, you see someone you start to like on Snapchat, start grafting and that's it. Back then, a man would take a woman out. They'd go to a diner, sip a milkshake and he wouldn't try a cringe pick up line that he'd heard on 'Love Island'. The, they'd walk home together- probably perform a musical number or two under the vintage lamp posts- and he'd politely kiss her hand. Sounds like the dream, right? To be honest, this beautifully real love seems like something legitimate to the decade. However, the hetronormalcy was also something that belonged there. Being gay was still very much illegal for many more years. Love was only okay between a man and a woman who were the same race.


James Dean
So, as gorgeous as James Dean may be, does his amahhhzing wall lean outweigh all of these negatives? Before writing this, I would have said that Hollywood's glory days were the time for me. But no, I'm not too sure. As great as old romance is, I don't think I'd want it unless everyone could have it alongside me. No mater how much I like 'Some Like it Hot', I'd have to give the years of Eisenhower a hard pass.

Comments

  1. Loved this post it’s so interesting and also it was so sad about the racial and segregation issues! X

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for reading! I found so much interesting information about it all and it made me so thankful that times have moved forward x

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  2. James Dean is so beautiful!! Such a good post! X

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  3. James Dean is so beautiful!! Such a good post! X

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So true! He is such a glorious being! And thank you so much for reading! xox

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  4. Brilliant post. Great way to get across some factual information whilst telling it in the way you did. I often romanticise the 50's but I think that's when I'm forgetting all the segregation and racism. I hope you write more posts like this one.

    Abby | www.exactlyabby.co.uk

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm so glad that you liked the format of this. Before I started, I had such a rose tinted image of the decade, but now I think I understand it a lot more. I'm planning on making it a series, so the next post will be up in two weeks xox

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