Megan Dowdrick

Life during the 1950s and 60s was greatly impacted by television. Not only was it effected politically, but also economically, diplomatically, and socially. It played a huge roll by giving people information that they never could've known without it.

TV impacted the political world, too. For example, McCarthyism was a huge part of the news on TV during this time. McCarthyism was the idea of getting rid of all communists is the US during the early 50s. A political cartoon was shown of Joseph McCarthy, the creator/leader of McCarthyism, where he was extinguishing the torch of liberty. This caused a lot of fear for foreign ideas and their values. They didn't feel free, especially after seeing the cartoon. Another example is the Kennedy/Nixon debate. Television was still new at the time, and Kennedy was able to use it to his advantage much more than Nixon. Kennedy wore make-up to look young and healthy on TV whereas Nixon thought that men didn't need to wear make-up, it's for women. This also made Kennedy look much healthier than Nixon and almost made Nixon look sick. Throughout the debate, Nixon seems to be very sweaty and fidgety. However, Kennedy looks calm and prepared.  Although Nixon's speech was very well said, he didn't look that great and his appearance ultimately led to his defeat in the debate. As many say, if you ask people who watched the TV, they think Kennedy won the debate. But, those who listened to it on the radio think that Nixon won it. The last politics were affected by TV was in the Kennedy and Nixon commercials. Kennedy once again used the TV to his advantage much more than Nixon. Kennedy had a fun, cartoon commercial with a catchy song. He also had many where he was out and about with people and answering their questions. He even had one where his wife spoke in Spanish for all of the Spanish community. Nixon, on the other hand, mostly sat by his desk and that's pretty much it for his commercials. Their different styles were clearly shown on TV, which also affected everyone economically.

Commercials started becoming more common on TV during this time. So, since everyone could see all the new brands, they wanted them. People wanted things that they didn't need which boosted the economy. Now that the same shows could be seen all across the nation, nationwide brands were created. Also, demonstrations were shown to see how well a product worked and make consumers want it even more. For example, a Band-Aid was attached to a boiling egg and never came off. Also, Remington Razors shaved fuzz off of a peach to show how well it worked. TV itself became a must-have in households everywhere and created a huge market. This new market caused a rise of big malls and markets. However, the movie theater business was threatened which led to them creating new movies in 3D. The TV increased the economy in a fantastic way, and also impacted American culture diplomatically.

During this time, Kennedy supported South Vietnam. He didn't want them to become communist. So, to get help for the war, commercials were shown where Americans were killing the enemy but not vice versa. They did this so Americans thought that they were powerful and helping South Vietnam win this war. The TV played a huge roll in getting Americans involved and supporting the war. Also, Americans were all connected when Kennedy spoke about the Cuban Missile Crisis on TV. He said that a US spy plane saw the Soviet Union was building nuclear missile sites in Cuba. Kennedy announced that he would have a long ring of ships surrounding Cuba to stop military supplies from coming in to them. Both leaders later agreed on a deal where Kennedy wouldn't invade Cuba as long as they dismantle their weapon sites. Finally, the TV helped out when Kennedy gave his speech about the Berlin Wall.  The wall separated the communist East Berlin from West Berlin. East Berlin built it to keep people from moving to the west so they weren't stuck on the communist side. It was considered one of Kennedy's best speeches. He said the famous quote, "Ich bin ein Berliner" meaning I am a berliner. He also stated, "Lass' sie nach Berlin kommen." That means, "Let them come to Berlin." This gave many Berliners hope that some day the wall would be taken down and they were able to have this hope all thanks to television.  In fact, television even affected American culture socially, too.

Not only had commercials showed amazing, new products, but stereotypes were also very common. For example, the "common housewife" was shown in the kitchen, always excited to cook. She was dressed very nicely and had her hair and makeup done, too. This set the standards for what every housewife should look like. Also, the little rock 9 were often shown on TV. The 9 black children trying to go to a white school was on many news channels all across the nation. Eventually, it became such a popular topic across the country that the President had to act on it. TV showed him and the government eliminating separate systems of education for blacks and whites. However, TV did affect some people in a bad way. Some became lazy and no longer went outside like they once had. Others became more violent because of what they had seen on TV. Either way you look at it, the American culture was greatly impacted by TV.

The invention of the TV completely changed American culture. It was changed politically, economically, diplomatically, and socially. Without TV, who knows how America would be now. It's very important to the impact of culture and is still changing the world.

Comment Stream