Friday, May 30, 2014
CNN shows how TV shaped "The Sixties" (but haven't we seen this before?)
CNN, on Thursday night, aired (at least three times) it’s one hour special “The Sixties: The Decade that Changed the World: Television Comes of Age”, produced in association with PlayTone. The link is here.
The documentary presented the effect of television on American culture, as if to suggest that TV helped fire up the Civil Rights movement. That’s partly because in 1960 the presidential debates were televised (I even remember the conventions that year, while in Ohio for the summer), and the 1963 Kennedy Assassination showed the importance of continuous news coverage. Perhaps not as many people had followed the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis on television, but I had, watching it on the GW campus.
By the late fifties, people had gotten used to seeing comedies about “real people” (“I Love Lucy”, “My Little Margie”, “The Honeymooners”, and even “Amos ‘N’ Andy”, which would seem inappropriate today). Disney had expanded the potential for television with shows based on the “four lands” of his Magic Kingdom, then just in California.
Programs that presented life in the view of kids (“Leave it to Beaver”) appeared. Then color was introduced, first as a luxury. It tended to be very garish at first. By around 1970, most programs were available in color.
We did have a color TV in the barracks at Fort Eustis in 1969. I still remember that. But in the middle 1960s at the University of Kansas, it was all black and white (one on the lounge on each floor; I remember the World Series – St. Louis and Boston – in BW).
The decade would end with the “Moonwalk”, preceded a few weeks before by Stonewall. After that, everything would change.