Some say that it is useless to speak of world peace or world law or worlddisarmament – and that it will be useless until the leaders of the Soviet Unionadopt a more enlightened attitude. I hope they do. I believe we can help them todo it. But I also believe that we must reexamine our own attitude – asindividuals and as a Nation – for our attitude is as essential as theirs. Andevery graduate of this school, every thoughtful citizen who despairs of war andwishes to bring peace, should begin by looking inward – by examining his ownattitude toward the possibilities of peace, toward the Soviet Union, toward thecourse of the cold war and toward freedom and peace here at home.
President JohnF. Kennedy, American University Speech, June 10, 1963 The Cold War was a time inAmerican History during the twentieth century where the Communist nations werefighting against the non-Communist nations. However, the main countriesinvolved, or the ones leading the two sides were the United States and Russia.
The United States led the fight against Communist nations, like Russia. Butthese intense rivalries didnt just go on in the type of government thatshould be used or in who could develop the most advanced and most powerfulnuclear weapon of the time. This rivalry went into the culture of Americansocieties. The Russians were always being viewed as the toughest rival and theteam to beat according to the US. It is similar to how teams think of thedefending champions in a sport. The team playing the defending champions wantsto come out hyped up and with their A-game every time they are competingwith them. Another impact it had on the American society was how people startedacting and thinking. In many of the movies and television shows of the time,most people wouldnt have noticed, but the directors and producers were hidingsubliminal messages in them. Some of them depicting how awful the Russians wereor how supreme the Americans were. But was American society affected by the ColdWar, or was America just trying to make their society better to show it off tothe other countries? Basically, did Americas way of life and economy duringthe cold war improve because they wanted it to show it off or was it anecessity? The Cold War did affect the Americans way of life. America was ayoung nation and it was just beginning to develop into a dominant country. Itfirst really just established itself as a world power during the two world wars.
Therefore, the cold war was a time in which Americans were trying to get a namefor themselves by showing how great, life in their country was. Shows like LeaveIt to Beaver and Father Knows Best portrayed the stereotypical Americanfamilies. Even though everyone knows that there is no such thing as a perfectfamily, people still enjoyed watching these types of shows. Commercials, orshows like I Love Lucy, showing the stereotypical woman or housewife in thekitchen were another way of showing things off. It is really very difficult toalways own the latest models of things coming out. So a woman in a kitchen withall the new appliances is really unlikely. This was another way of showing offto other countries how life was or wasnt. However, the show I Love Lucy,mainly showed how much freedom a woman had when her husband wasnt home. Lucyconstantly did foolish things that werent exactly the ways women weresupposed to have been behaving. Once again, the United States was portraying howgreat life was in America compared to other countries. The majority of thetelevision shows during the 1950s showed no poverty, death, ethnic mixing, orracial tension. It just presented the perfect world. Juxtaposed, it couldbe argued that the Cold War didnt help shape the American society. Americanlife could have just formed like how it was supposed to happen; like humannature. When the men all came back from World War II, many women lost their jobsand werent as active as they were during the time of WWII. The jobs were allgiven back to the men, and women were once again treated very delicately. Theywent back to their old ways of life when a womans life wasnt supposed tobe strenuous. That then caused the emergence of the in-the-house-all-dayhousewife. The idea of the housewife then became more exaggerated and led to thecreation of the various commercials portraying the perfect lifestyle. Allof these reasons point to the society being shaped naturally just by the waythings were turning out. The cold war affected all parts of the American societyincluding politics. The major political event during the time was the Red Scare.
The Red Scare started back a few years before the 1920s and went away relativelyfor awhile during World War II. However, as soon as the war ended, the hysteriaover communism went away a little bit. The Reds, as communists werecalled, were seen as a danger to the United States and their citizens. The RedScare brought out one of the most politically repressive periods in U.S.
history because it took away many freedoms of expression, political activism andpress. It kept on going, however, due to the American communists, communistsympathizers, and citizens trying to achieve social justice. Most of thesepeople were intellectuals (writers and academics), government officials,political figures, teachers, college professors, and entertainers. The maineffect it had on Americans was that off fear. Many Americans were afraid of acommunist take-over and all the violence that followed it. Most of these fearswere portrayed in science-fiction movies, like Invasion of the Body Snatchers,The Thing, Invaders from Mars, and The Blob. These films all presented traitssimilar to either the communists or the stereotypical description of communists.
In The Blob, the blob shows how the communism is spreading slowly, buteffectively over everything. Like it is creeping through relativelyunnoticed. In Invasion of the Body Snatchers, the aliens act like the communistsin that they possess similar goals, which are to take over the townsmilitary, government, and other types of authority. These are similar to whatAnti-Communist Americans believed that the Reds were trying to do. All ofthese movies also show how directors and producers tried to show Americanshidden messages about communism. Therefore, it is likely that the directors wereAnti-Communist. Another aspect of entertainment influenced by the cold war wasmusic. Rock and roll was the most popular style of music at the time and therewere some songs that werent really dealing with the cold war in general, butthere were some songs in which the topic of the song dealt with a situation inthe cold war. Its typical audience was teenagers and young adults, similar tothe listeners of rap and hip-hop in todays society. Elvis Presley, theKing of Rock and Roll, was probably the most popular rock and roll star ofthe time. His music was different from others because he was the first tocombine both black and white sound. However, his dancing did bring on somecriticism from the older generation of people because they perceived it asobscene and indecent. Elvis, though not directly in his songs, was influenced bythe Cold War. According to his Federal Bureau of Investigation file, he was anundercover informant against radicals he saw as undermining the nation.
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