Challenges of rock and roll music in America in 1950s
The article is generally talks about rock and roll music in the 1950s. In order to learn more about rock and rock, I researched from various sources and works cited are listed at the end of article. Rock and roll is a genre of music which originated in America in the late1940s and early1950s which was accepted and rejected in equal measure with regards to the audience. The music is said to have evolved from drum beads by Africans and Celtic Folk music in Europe who had immigrated to America. Alan Freed was responsible bringing the music in mainstream. The term rock and roll is quoted from slang language of the African Americans in 1920s which was code word for sexual intercourse. The music was further popularized by the fact that in the early 1950s it was featured in commercials, films and TV sound tracks. Back then, most of the rock and roll artists were African Americans. The music was initially targeted for teenagers, poor white folks and black ghetto youths. The entrance of the music was considered to be a major revolution and upheaval in the music industry especially with the new technology in music what could now be recorded in 33 and 45 rpm. However, despite the fact that the youth especially teenagers found the music fascinating, the adults and people with Christian values found it to be less appealing and thought it had a negative impact on the young generation and devalued their culture and led to moral degradation at the time. The goal of the paper is to bring to light the social challenges of rock and roll in America in 1950. I will review some of the challenges and give a detailed explanation in accordance to the works cited. The challenges are as follows:
Racism can be described as prejudice of individuals due to the color of their skin. In the 1950s, racism in America was at its highest high. Whites believed they were superior to the black Americans and there existed racial segregation (Kramer, 111). Rock and roll artists were mostly blacks and the racist’s whites found it unacceptable since the music had a lot of white fans. To add insult to injury, the music also brought together the American black and white fans together despite there being racial segregation and this caused a lot of resentment towards the music from the white racists due to its ability to break the barrier of racial segregation.
Drugs and sex
This genre of music was highly associated with this drugs and substance abuse (Weinstein, 27-40). Most of the rock and roll artists were users of hard drugs and this was evident as their life styles were now in the public domain. The life style had a spillover effect to their fans that adored then and tried to copy their life styles. They also made recreation drugs look more appealing to the youth. Drug abuse often led to sexual immorality; furthermore, the artists were also associated with soliciting sexual favors (popularly known as groupies) in the back stage and after shows in wild parties where they also abused drugs (Spracklen 14).
America in the 1950 was a predominantly Christian nation. The rock and roll artists seemed to explore religion in their music by seeking to establish rock and roll as a religion with their god (Luhr, 300). Most Christians also believed that the music was satanic especially due to their tattoos, signs and rituals performed on stage. Though not viewed as a competition for Christianity it led to erosion of Christian morals and values. Thus, it led to rejection among the Christian faithful.
Before the emergence of rock and roll, the dress code in America was regarded to be modest, descent, conservative and this was deemed to be the American culture. Emergence of rock and roll brought with it a fashion of clothing which was especially popular to the people regarded as low class such as bell bottom trousers, long beards, ornaments and piercings (Feldman-Barrett, 30). This created a lot of disgust towards the lower class from the middle and upper class that deemed themselves descent and this was accredited to rock and roll.
Initially the youth did have a voice or a platform to express their opinions. Despite rock and roll being music, it afforded the youth a platform to speak out and also a platform for exchange of emotions and ideas like black power and equal rights. This led to emergence of a rebellious class of youth leading to a rebellious era which did go down well with the political class (Pérez, 185)
In conclusion, despite the positives like economic growth in the music industry and expression of black rights, it also brought with it negative social impacts as highlighted above. Rock and rock can be said was a form of movement in America in the 1950s. However the good outweigh the bad and with time some of the changes were gradually accepted by society.
Bertrand, Michael T. "Tell Tchaikovsky the News: Rock'n'Roll, the Labor Question, and the Musicians' Union, 1942–1968 by Michael James Roberts." Register of the Kentucky Historical Society 113.1 (2015): 138-140.
Spracklen, Karl. "Sex, drugs, Satan and rock and roll: re-thinking dark leisure, from theoretical framework to an exploration of pop-rock-metal music norms." Annals of Leisure Research (2017): 1-17.
Weinstein, Deena. "Rock protest songs: so many and so few." The resisting muse: Popular music and social protest. Routledge, 2017. 27-40.
Luhr, Eileen. "Cold War Teenitiative: American Evangelical Youth and the Developing World in the Early Cold War." The Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth 8.2 (2015): 295-317.
Feldman-Barrett, Christine, and Andy Bennett. "“All that Glitters”: Glam, Bricolage, and the History of Post-War Youth Culture." Global Glam and Popular Music. Routledge, 2016. 19-32.
Pérez, Richie. "From assimilation to annihilation: Puerto Rican images in US films." Latin looks. Routledge, 2018. 174-195.