Sunday, August 17, 2014
Rebels, Causes and Dark Brooding Men
Whether in East of Eden or Rebel, Dean delighted audiences because of his blatant sex appeal. Remember, this was in the middle of the fifties when there were three channels on television and no sitcom could show a bedroom unless there were double beds for married couples. The United States was barely out of a devastating world war, trying to find its center, not yet ready to rebel against much of anything. That had to wait at least another decade.
Other singers during Elvis's era either were copycats in looks or were so squeaky clean that they belonged in the fifties. Pat Boone should have stayed in the fifties and not the tattooed ick he morphed into in the "oughts." Ricky Nelson. As clean cut as his parents. A good talent and a physical representation of the era.
So why did we need these rebels? Maybe it was because young people needed a reason to be different from the parental generation. Maybe it was a precursor to what would come a decade after Dean's death at 24 in 1955. After all, mass media was in its infancy with those three television stations and movie theaters providing the only moving images of stars. The Ed Sullivan Show brought musical acts into our living rooms, all but Elvis's pelvis waggling at the girls who screamed.
After a generation of deprivation with the Depression and WWII, youth needed an outlet. Our bad boys gave it to them. They opened the door for the later rock acts, hippies and social unrest of the sixties. Long live the rebels who show us it is all right to be different.
Betsy Ashton is the author of Mad Max Unintended Consequences available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The second book in the series, Uncharted Territory, will be released in June 2015. She lives for words and writing.