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History the 1960s

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1. Describe popular culture in Britain at the beginning of the 1960s. Popular culture is literally culture that is popular. Whether it is music, fashion, films or the mainstream attitude of society. It appeals mostly to the working class, as they are the largest of all social classes and are the ones who generally follow this social popular trend. In the media, popular culture is mostly found in filmmaking and television as well as music. In the early 1960s,culture was not dominated by the values of early to mid-'50s. In fact, one could claim that the so-called 'swinging sixties' (the values and culture of the 1960s decade) really began in the late 1950s. For example, in the early 1950s children were expected to dress and act as their parents did. In the late '50s this changed drastically. In fact, teenagers still hold the rebellious attitude that teenagers in the '60s held. In 1960 American artists and groups mostly dominated British pop music - though, later, Britain began to produce its own 'copies'. Elvis 'The King' Presley was the most famous and most influential of all artists in the 1950s. The American wowed teenagers from the mid-1950s. By 1960, Elvis was a mainstream singer. Another artist - Perry Como - was a singer of sentimental song and was very popular amongst the older generation. Other British singers such as Billy Fury and Tommy Steele also copied Britain's more successful copy of Elvis, Cliff Richard. Richard copied Elvis in both style and appearance. By this time, (1950s) music had stagnated and dulled. By 1960, teenagers wanted a radical change to the sound of the music. They were tired of the generic 'boy meets girl', maudlin sounds of the 1950s. Thus came about the new group, 'the Quarrymen'. The group, later known as the Beatles, had a unique sound. Teenagers loved it. This was the music revolution. ...read more.


Channels aired music programmes such as 'Top of the Pops' and 'The 6.5 Special', both of which had mostly teenage audiences/viewers. Another invention was the transistor radio. This small compact machine allowed teenagers (the largest group that listened to pop music) listen to music in their own rooms. Also, there were new portable record players. Moreover, the famous 7" vinyl (a.k.a. the singles) was invented. This allowed to groups to sell one song at a time, promoting the sale of that song and ultimately it's album. Another use of the 7" vinyl was the 'EP' (extended play), which usually held four tracks rather than one. These inventions were cheap and affluent Britain's teenagers could easily afford them. Meaning, groups could easily be promoted without the worry of people not being able to buy records or listen to their music. Yet another invention was the Juke Box. These were often seen in coffee bars, and teenagers could use them to listen to their favourite stars. Another reason for the great impact for these two bands was general affluence. In the 1960s Britain was a very prosperous country. Prime Minister McMillan said 'You've never had it so good.' Meaning, the people of the country had never been doing so well financially. The country had a huge percentage of employment and average weekly wage had doubled. Therefore children had more pocket money. Children and teenagers, being the largest consumers of music, encouraged the success of the Beatles and the 'Stones'. The 1960s - the 'swinging sixties' - was a time of great social changes. The Beatles represented egalitarianism and the proletariats - the working class boys with regional accents who acquired much fame and fortune. The Rolling Stones reflected the sex revolution (thanks to the invention of the 'pill') and the growing drug scene. Both bands reflected teen rebellion. If these bands started 10 years earlier they may not have been such an impact because attitude to sex, drugs and rock and roll was totally different and in fact, frowned upon. ...read more.


In fact, this never-ending threat of another world war encouraged people, such as hippies, to try to live life 'to the full'. This ultimately encouraged sex and the use of drugs, as well as crime. People adopted a 'we are going to die anyway' attitude. Also in the 1960s: the assassination of two great people - John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King. This mirrored the amount of seemingly pointless hate in the world. Other events include the building of the Berlin wall and the Vietnam War, which reflected more threat and danger that was present in the world. A significant event that horrified the people of Britain was the Profumo Affair. It was a political scandal in 1963, which was named after the then-Secretary of State for War, John Profumo. Profumo had developed a brief relationship with a showgirl named Christine Keeler and then lied about it in the House of Commons when he was questioned about it. Keeler was also involved in relationships with the naval attach´┐Ż of the Soviet Embassy (Russia was not an ally of the UK at the time). The scandal forced Profumo to resign and it seriously damaged Prime Minister Macmillan's and his government's reputation. This event reflected the corruption of the British government at the time. Conclusively, it appears that particularly the contemporary younger generation perceived the 1960s as a decade of great social progress and liberalisation. No doubt, it was a decade of great financial progress as well. Also, the contemporary younger generation saw it as a decade of the breakdown of traditional authority, political power and a greater egalitarianism. Still, there is the more conservative view, held by the contemporary older generation of the 1960s, the traditionalists. They saw that the 1960s were a period of time where there was great damage done to society, where old, then-respected values were diminished or destroyed. 'We are reaping today what was sown in the 60s.The old virtues of discipline and restraint were denigrated' - Margaret Thatcher ...read more.

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