The Fifties: an invention of Sha Na Na / Scottish Highlanders / Rondald Reagan
October 3, 2008 9:50 PM Subscribe
Remember the Fifties? For a certain generation, who could forget those golden innocent days as depicted in shows like Happy Days, Grease and the band Sha Na Na. But it turns out that vision of the 50's is mostly fantasy and never existed, largely invented by a group of Columbia U students around 1969.
The idea of the Fifties that America still holds — the happy, "greasy" Fifties — was an "invented History." Up until 1969, quite an opposite cultural memory held sway. When Americans remembered "the Fifties," they thought of Joe McCarthy witch hunts, of an "age of anxiety," of the "shook-up generation" diving under their desks during A-Bomb drills, of the Man in the Gray Flannel Suit selling out and Holden Caulfield cracking up, or Allen Ginsberg '48 and Jack Kerouac '44 too "beat" to fight back. (see article for more)
..around 1969, “history” had been deliberately rewritten — almost invented. The "new Fifties" was no older than Columbia College, spring 1969, when the Kingsmen put on two shows: "The Glory That Was Grease" and the "First East Coast Grease Festival," attended by 5,000 students from Massachusetts to Maryland. That had been the first appearance of the word "Grease" and the first appearance of the greaser, who rapidly replaced the popular image of Beatniks and the Beat era. "This ascription of the social domain and style of hoods (in 1950s slang) or greasers (as they came to be known in the 1970s) as the emblematic experience of 1950s youth came to be a common trope in later media discussions of the era". (see article for more)
The Sha Na Na greaser, it turns out, has an unexpected Old World cousin: the Scottish Highlander. (see article for more)
In Ronald Reagan's time politicians began invoking [the fantasy fifties] as if it had been history, and trying to ally themselves with it. "Conservatives [in the Reagan Era] parlay(ed) the cultural nostalgia for the Fifties that had circulated in the 1970s into the basis for a political offensive …(see article for more)
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