Why did Elvis Presley have such an impact upon US society in 1956 and 1957?
In the late 1950’s a teenager named Elvis Presley came into the American Life and changed it forever. His music was thought of as a whole new type of music and also rebellious. The teenagers of the time thought he was a hero, but the adults of the time thought he was a little rebel that no one should like and that he was the son of a devil. All the other music of the time was quite slow and boring, whereas Elvis’s music was fast and very exciting. Elvis often sang with these artists such as, Dean Martin and Nat King Cole. He sang “Love Me Tender” with Frank Sinatra in a one off performance. The adults reacted to this quite badly as it was not there type of music.
It wasn’t just his music that caused a stir; his dress sense also caused much media disruption. For very special evenings he may have worn a suit, but still tried his best too make it rebellious. He would have his top button undone, which in the time was very sexual. Any other time except a posh night he would wear very strange clothing. He would usually wear the collar on his shirt up and have more than his top button undone. The other performers of the time usually just wore suits and dresses, never anything different. Many of his clothes were black or pink-which was a very feminine colour in 1950’s America.
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On stage he was also quite a rebel. Many times when performing with ladies he would kiss them and grope them. His dances were also seen as very rebellious, they were very sexual in the leg movements. Elvis once said to a lady reporter “I’m not trying to be sexy. My movements, ma’am, are all leg movements.” He also wore a lot of stage makeup, including mascara. He was very different because no one had seen a white man move like he did before. Not everyone approved of his behaviour on and off the stage, but some did. Many religious figures did not approve and declared him the son of the devil. The Catholic Church even mentioned Elvis in their weekly newsletter.
Family life in the 1950’s was very different to what it is today. In the 1950’s many families were quite rich and getting richer. This is due to the rise of money made due to the war. Also there was a thing called the “American Dream” which was when a family or person wanted to live their lives to the best of their ability. They would usually have all of the new gadgets out at the time, but of all needed to have better ones than their neighbours. Many parents in this era would also give their children lots of money for pocket money to make them better parents than there neighbours too. Parents weren’t too keen on Elvis and his antics and they often stopped their kids from going too see him in concert and usually stopped them watching him on television. families thought that Elvis did threaten their family lives as it changed the way their children were viewing life. They thought he was ruining the “American Dream” by turning children into little rebels.
With teenagers and kids being the future of the American culture many advertisers picked up on the fact that the children’s parents were giving them lots of money. The advertisers picked up on this while advertising their product. Products like cars and televisions were specifically aimed at teenagers as they were thought of as necessities in the 1950’s. With the emergence of Elvis in the 1950’s advertisers thought it was necessary to use him too help promote their products. If the teenagers saw Elvis in an advertisement they would straight away go out and buy that car, just because Elvis said so.
As mentioned before children and teenagers where given more and more pocket money due to the fact that their parents were getting richer. Due to the increase in money given to the teenagers, the teenagers would go to the shops and buy a lot of items. Usually they would ask their parents too buy them a car but in special cases they would save up and buy their own car. Mostly though they bought there own music records and televisions. This sort of buying helped Elvis in many ways. If they bought televisions they could watch him on television and find out how good he is. If they thought he was good they would buy his records. If record sales were up for Elvis it would make him a lot of money and also could make more music due to the fact he knew he was liked by the public.
Due to this I have come to the conclusion of why I think he had such an impact on US society in 1956 and 1957. I think he made such an impact due too the teenage life and how much money they had. The teenagers enjoyed Elvis’s music because they thought it was fun and exciting. The rest of the artists at the time were quite boring and unexciting. Generally teenagers enjoy things there parents don’t and also like nothing better too make there parents mad. Parents generally didn’t like Elvis as they thought he was crude and very disturbing, often associated as ‘Elvis the Pelvis’ and ‘The son of the Devil’. With money in American families, then more money given to teenagers. This making the amount of tickets in concert rise a dramatic account as the teenagers would buy the tickets.