Skip to main content

tv   American Style  CNN  January 19, 2019 7:00pm-8:01pm PST

7:00 pm
of excess. >> with every ying there's a yang. a pendulum swing to one side so far it swings back to the other. and the world changes. profoundly. how you live and what your values are, that's what style is. >> style is how you surround yourself. >> it's each generation finding their identity. >> have you ever broken any rules? >> i'm looking at the '40s and '50s. there's a tremendous amount of change. >> the bikini was the biggest thing since the atom bomb. it's scandalous.
7:01 pm
>> hollywood has always been so influential in how women view themselves. >> i mean katharine hepburn made pants happen. >> going against the grain had become its own unique identity. >> what are you rebelling against? >> what have you got? >> '40s and '50st were america finding itself. a voice for american style. ♪
7:02 pm
♪ in the beginning of the 1940s, american style was very simple without a lot of adornment. >> coming out of the '30s, consumption was not something you did. we all hear stories about grandparents saying hold on, i'm going to save that tv dinner foil. i'm going to use that again. that's the mentality of growing up in a depression. when you don't have stuff, you work with what you have. >> most women learned how to sew at a very early age, and they would make their own shirts and dresses and, you know, whole wardrobe. my mother had a sewing machine. i was constantly telling her what i want wanted and she would constantly tell me it would have
7:03 pm
to be something else. it was a different mentality. >> and everyday man would probably own one suit and one hat. >> my grandfather would take my mother to baseball games. he always was in a suit and tie and often a vest. on the hottest day. my mother, who loved to go with him, would say why are you wearing a suit? he would say, you know, i'm taking a lady out. i always wear a suit. there wasn't a lot of ingenuity going on in fashion. >> america was still a remarkably provincial country. the leading emphasis not only in fashion but in art was in france. >> americans felt very second rate when comparing ourselves to europe.
7:04 pm
we have always seen europe as the leaders. >> americans looked, i think, to europe as aristocratic. we had europe as the icon of style. >> before world war ii, we were a nation of copiers. we have been a nation of copiers. >> december 7th, 1941, a date which will live in infamy. the american people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory. >> during world war ii, everyone was involved in that war effort. >> war ration book number two, 180 million of them rolling off the presses. coupons that represent civilian americans' future purchases of
7:05 pm
rationed goods. >> the government rationing that happened as a result of the war dramatically impacted style. >> textiles are not being used for apparel purposes, at least on civilians. everything is being channeled to the war efforts. >> during the war, extraneous waste of materials like extra pockets would be forbidden by the new rationing rules. >> men's clothing, which used to be identified by having jackets with lapels and pants with cuffs and pleats, all that access fabric goes away. >> you could not have flaps on a jacket pocket. the pants could not be wider than 19 1/2 inches. >> women were asked to give up their silk stockings so they could be recycled for war purposes. >> off with the stockings, girls. they are due for the discard and the war effort needs them.
7:06 pm
the stockings will be used in making powder bags for firing heavy guns. >> the scarcity of things pushed people to be more creative like women drawing on the back of their legs to imitate the seam of their stockings. >> it's a trick with the eyebrow pencil. legs or eyebrows, it's all the same, only difference is the shape. >> girls would turn table cloths into skirts, for example. >> people were very much behind the war effort. it was something that created a sense of community and pulling together. it made people feel involved in what was going on around them because it literally hit them in every aspect of their home and domestic life. >> pre-war women were still predominantly in the household. it was crazy before to have women in the workplace. certainly, not even considered that women would be something like a welder. but when world war ii hit, all of a sudden, women flooded the
7:07 pm
workforce. >> but it's really not good to wear a big, puffy skirt when you're operating heavy machinery, so utilitarian needs required women to suit up and hit the factories. >> the age of rosie the riveter changed the sense of style, changed how they expressed themselves. >> it was a change in the lifestyle of the woman, and i think that affected what she was exposed to. she had new influences, new environment, new stimulus. as a child, i was fortunate to have young aunts. they went to work, and they really paint the picture of how life had changed drastically because of the war. >> it was an emancipation for
7:08 pm
the woman. they had that strength that women have when things are tough. >> wearing the pants and taking on male roles had a subliminal message that there could be a toughness about women that was never identified before. that changed everything. >> for men certainly in the '40s, it was considered not a manly thing to be even thinking about wardrobe. you just wore clothes. >> but there was a style that started for men, and it was a very different, very colorful style. >> a very extravagant way of dressing that was embraced by minorities. ♪ ♪ i want a zoot suit with a pleat, with a great shape and
7:09 pm
cuff to look sharp enough to see my sunday gal ♪ >> zoot suits were primarily worn by african-american and latino american men. >> people who were sort of on the outside edge. >> the suits were long jackets and very full trousers and had various accessories like a watch fob on a long chain, et cetera. it was really one of the first youth cultures. >> some might see the zoot suit as flashy, and perhaps it was, but these are the most marginalized people in society. even though they may have been treated as second-class citizens, when they put on these zoot suits, they suddenly had an identity. they suddenly could see themselves in a different light. ♪ a got a zoot suit ♪ in the latest fad ♪ to see my sunday gal
7:10 pm
>> the '40s were a period when there was tremendous panic, paranoia about youth cultures and particularly when they were minority youth cultures. so there were a lot of racist reactions against zoot suiters. most notoriously in the so-called zoot suit riots in los angeles in 1943. crowds of white men and servicemen were beating up latino and black men for wearing zoot suits. >> soldiers who were on leave, seeing these guys and saying, you're unpatriotic. >> you know, they defied the war rationing efforts. >> the pride of these individuals wearing the suit was
7:11 pm
offensive to a lot of conservative white males who were not comfortable with men of color asserting themselves in any way, even in the way that they dressed. >> the zoot suit came to be the kind of lightning rod of prejudice and fear and racism. it was the symbol of conflict in the united states. that rocking chair would look grahh, new house, eh?e. well, you should definitely see how geico could help you save on homeowners insurance. nice tip. i'll give you two bucks for the chair. two?! that's a victorian antique! all right, how much for the recliner, then? wait wait... how did that get out here? that is definitely not for sale! is this a yard sale? if it's in the yard then it's... for sale. oh, here we go.
7:12 pm
geico. it's easy to switch and save on homeowners and renters insurance. to be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing it's best to make you everybody else... ♪ ♪ means to fight the hardest battle, which any human being can fight and never stop. does this sound dismal? it isn't. ♪ ♪ it's the most wonderful life on earth. ♪ ♪
7:13 pm
it's the most wonderful life on earth. everybody all set? oh, any recommendations? the salmon roll's ok. just ok? is it fresh? sort of. the chef had it this morning. unfortunately he went home sick, but he left instructions with kyle! this fish is raw. do we need a minute? yes. just ok is not ok. especially when it comes to your network. at&t is america's best wireless network, according to america's biggest test.
7:14 pm
now with 5g e. more for your thing. that's our thing. our so we reward a every let's see what kate sent. for you. for all of us. that's for me. navy federal credit union our members, are the mission. hollywood, brilliant tinsel city of lights and fantasy. hollywood, glorified,
7:15 pm
glittering, fascinating, mythical kingdom. hollywood, the glamour capital of the world. >> before world war ii, we would head to the paris couture collections, we would sketch, we'd photograph them. and then we would bring back all of those ideas and copy them here. the only place in this nation where anything was happening that was creative and innovative in fashion was hollywood. parson school of design launched the first program in fashion in 1906. where did the early graduates go? they went to the up-and-coming and then burgeoning film industry in hollywood. ♪ >> hollywood has always been america's dream factory. and that was especially true, i think, before the rise of other media like television. americans looked to hollywood movies and saw the kind of lives they wanted to live.
7:16 pm
the cars they wanted to drive, the clothes they wanted to wear. >> film was very escapist. people went to see fred and ginger rogers because they wanted to escape the misery they were living in during the war. >> people went to the movies. it was, you know, exciting. >> it also sees the emergence of glamorous new idols. >> hollywood was it. these were the gods and godesses around whom america formed their dreams and their ideals. >> back in those days, there were movie magazines, portraits of movie stars one after another. they are the ones that are projecting style. so you had somebody like rita hayworth, ava gardner. they represented sort of the iconic cha, cha, cha. iconic.
7:17 pm
>> everyone wanted to look line joan crawford. everyone wanted to look like audrey hepburn. >> marlene dietrich. she's the one that owned the crisp white shirt and the capri pant and the flat. and your hair back and possibly a little scarf. so many people loved that style because you don't even have to say anything when you walk in the door. you look sophisticated. >> my mom ingrid bergman, she did a film called "for whom the bell tolls" where she had very short hair. and that hair she told me she had heard about women going to the hairdresser and saying i want the ingrid bergman haircut, very short hair. >> today when we think about the '40s, we think about big shoulder pads. >> '40s was the age of the shoulder pads. >> joan crawford was very short. she had hips that were about the same width as her shoulders. she was never going to be a glamorous goddess without a little bit of help.
7:18 pm
but adrian, the costume designer at mgm, said rather than try to hide her broad shoulders, let's accentuate them. so he creates the shoulder pads. she comes into a room and it is a powerful entrance. because she's got these big masculine shoulders. it helps establish her image as a powerful woman competing head to head with men and usually wins. >> she's a working woman and she is a pioneer. it's a woman who is in charge and it's a woman who is independent. that's what american style is about. >> adrian came up with another solution for her. he creates for the movie "letty linton" this dress. and it's got big puffy taffeta on the shoulders. and what it does is it creates this illusion that joan has a tiny little waist and tiny little hips.
7:19 pm
this glamorous impression of joan crawford that goes on to become the first hollywood design that is copied and mass produced and sold in department stores all across the country. >> so they would have it in the window with a picture of joan crawford, which sold many, many, tens of thousands of copies. >> hollywood has had an effect on the public, wanting to live that lifestyle or wanting to emulate the stars. >> you say it's the same as joan crawford wears in her new picture? >> it's styled the same and it definitely reflects the hollywood influence. >> may i have it? >> it's yours. >> i thought the '40s were a gorgeous period of time to watch. they all talked like that. they all talked very fast and they had that voice. i don't know what it was, but i liked it. >> have you ever broken any rules, selena? >> of course you're right. shall we make an exception in her case? >> how about we make up a rule of our own? >> katharine hepburn was a
7:20 pm
gender outlaw from the time she said being a little girl is a torment and she insisted that everybody call her jimmy. she wore boy's clothes and that was the world view she had when he went to hollywood. she didn't want to start playing the game of hollywood where you put on the prettiest dress. >> i mean, katharine hepburn made pants happen. >> it was seen as being tomboyish look often with mannish jackets. so it was that glamorization of that androgynous look for women. >> she did it beautifully and i think in a very feminine way. she didn't look as though she was trying to be a man and fool all of us. she was katharine hepburn and she is saying, here i am, and i'm me. and i love that about her. >> it was a huge pushback against hepburn wearing pants. gossip columnists would spend the entire column writing about how she wasn't living up to the standards of what people expected a woman to do in public and how they expected her to be and act.
7:21 pm
>> it certainly gave women who had never worn pants and thought this was something i simply can't do in my real life, it gave them a lot of confidence about this is okay, i can do it. katharine hepburn does. >> she successfully stood up to what hollywood expected her to be and she won. building a better bank starts with looking at something old, and saying, "really?" so capital one is building something completely new. capital one cafes. inviting places with people here to help you, not sell you. and savings and checking accounts with no fees or minimums. because that's how it should be. you can open one from right here or anywhere in 5 minutes. seriously, 5 minutes... this is banking reimagined. what's in your wallet?
7:22 pm
- did you know, the exact same hotel room can have many different prices? it all depends on where you look. - wait, you paid how much? - oh, dear! - well, this is awkward. that's why tripadvisor checks over 200 booking sites (cash register ringing) to find you a great price, and the hotel you want, so you don't end up overpaying for your room. no offense. find the right hotel room for the right price. ♪ hoo! read reviews, check hotel prices, book things to do. tripadvisor.
7:23 pm
the latest inisn't just a store.ty it's a save more with a new kind of wireless network store. it's a look what your wifi can do now store.
7:24 pm
a get your questions answered by awesome experts store. it's a now there's one store that connects your life like never before store. the xfinity store is here. and it's simple, easy, awesome. i can worry about it, or doe. something about it. garlique helps maintain healthy cholesterol naturally, and it's odor-free, and pharmacist recommended. garlique
7:25 pm
the world still looks to paris as the source of creative fashion, a position it's maintained for centuries. >> before the war, american fashion wasn't even registering on the map. there were only two magazines that controlled fashion in america for women, and it was "harpers bazaar" and "vogue," and they didn't care about american fashion. it was very boring for them. but eleanor lambert changed everything. >> eleanor lambert was a trailblazer. she saw an opportunity for american fashion. she was really the first american fashion publicist. an incredible public relations powerhouse. >> eleanor was an art student at chicago art institute. she came to new york and got a job working for a publicist. at the time, opera stars were
7:26 pm
the biggest stars of the day, and she was promoting them. her boss noticed she was a good publicist. so he said i will give you a desk and a phone, but you can't represent opera singers. you have to find another kind of client client. she said what should i do? he said what do you like? she said i love art. she went up to 57th street and signed up five artists and became a very successful publicist for artists. she was the first publicist for artists. on and on and on. adele simpson, who was a fashion designer, came to her and said, hey, american fashion is really strange because the garment manufacturers don't promote the designers. they don't even know their names. we need to be promoted too. and the french designers get a the lot of attention, but we don't. it gave her an idea. her idea was contact the publishers from newspapers
7:27 pm
across america, invite them to new york to write about collections of these designers. the publishers sort of pushed back and said we don't even have fashion writers. she said, then send your best writers and just like that, eleanor lambert created the first fashion week that took place in new york city during wartime. >> twice a year the dress institute welcomes to new york the visiting editors ask writers of 150 leading newspapers. on parade during press week are the collections of every noted designer in the wholesale market. >> the first fashion week it was just american designers. >> how neffy rosenstein is handling her evening gowns are minutely reported by ladies of the press. >> the fact that fashion week started in the midst of world war ii is shocking. it shows you the escapism aspiration of fashion. >> editors from across america didn't have to write about cooking and cleaning anymore. they got to write about fashion. well, of course, it was a slam
7:28 pm
dunk and changed everything. and eleanor lambert became the most powerful person in fashion. and she used that power to raise the visibility of american designers. like lilly dache, hattie cartegy, nettie rosenstein. >> and claire mccardell, who's attributed to having created american sportswear, by which i mean casual clothing. >> one of the most exciting prints we have ever seen is designed by claire mccardell. she's shown here are tapered slack. >> claire mccardell making for the most part separates. it's ready to wear. it's not couture. >> she wanted to design for the everywoman, outdoors, athletic. function was very important. the dress had to work with a woman's lifestyle. >> she used common gingham. she used calico. and they were very affordable for women to buy. >> mccardell also was a champion
7:29 pm
of denim, a textile that is associated with all things america, and she brings them into the fashion arena. >> fashion was taking a shift from what are the europeans wearing to the fashion industry is now designing for me. >> it was a startling moment for america. it was a big deal. >> claire mccardell led the way for many american designers. ann cline, donna karan, michael kors, norma kamali. they all have this american style. >> claire mccardell stopped going to the european shows. she said i'm not going anymore, because my creativity has to be original. she never went back to europe.
7:30 pm
she was making stuff in america for americans. >> you see this independence and america carving out its own unique identity. >> sportswear became the defining style of the united states. - [narrator] this is the moisturizer for rough, dry skin discovered by hard working farmers who shared it with family who recommended it to friends. udderly smooth, the moisturizer for rough, dry skin with no greasy after feel. hard working moisture-rich udderly smooth. zack. poor uncle edward.
7:31 pm
[ somber music playing ] he's passed away six times this year. [ cheering ] [ upbeat music starts ] let's go! let's go! let's go! and we don't even have an uncle edward. and yet somehow, i think this is what he would have wanted. [ cheering and screaming ] the volkswagen atlas. more room means more fun. (danny)'s voice) of course you don'te because you didn't!? your job isn't doing hard work...'s making them do hard work... ...and getting paid for it. (vo) snap and sort your expenses to save over $4,600 at tax time. quickbooks. backing you.
7:32 pm
7:33 pm
7:34 pm
throughout the world, people hail the end of the war. it is five years and more since hitler marched into poland. >> reporters rush out to relay the news to an anxious world and touchoff celebrations around the country. >> the dawn of peace. 2 million new yorkers jam times square. >> all the pent-up emotions of three years, eight months of war. and to the victors, the spoils. peace is wonderful. >> there was a real optimism after the war ended. people were excited about what was to come. >> welcome home. >> women certainly enjoyed the end of the war. and all that that meant from a
7:35 pm
fashion standpoint. >> well, cut off my legs and call me shorty. look what's here, girls. nylon. for four years you have been waiting for nylons. four years of painting legs, bare legs, tattooed legs and mosquito bites. but all that and the war is over. see? don't they look like the real thing? i mean the nylons. the legs are the real thing. gentlemen, have you ever seen a lovelier, uh, smile? >> when rations were lifted after the war, there was an inching forward towards normalization. >> now all of a sudden women had options. so if they wanted to dress in the girliest of girly ways, they could do so. >> the bikini, in the words of the great fashion editor deanna breland, was the biggest thing since the atom bomb. >> it was named after the bikini
7:36 pm
atoll, which is where we tested the atom bomb. >> louis reyard, the french fashion designer, created this in 1946. and this midriff was never exposed before. it's scandalous. in fact, reyard had to find a woman of the night to wear it because regular models wouldn't touch it. they thought it would ruin their career to be seen in this bikini. scandalosa. >> it didn't really catch on for a long time in america because it was too shocking. people were arrested on american beaches for wearing bikini-like two-piece garments. >> at that point, we have to remember, women never even showed their ankles. >> it's a huge, huge phenomenon. its influence on customs and perceptions of what's socially acceptable is profound.
7:37 pm
♪ >> since the war, 10 million families have moved into new homes in the suburbs. after a hard day's work, the man looks forward to a home he can be proud of. >> the transition from '40s to the '50s was really the move from post-war recovery into a period of stability and prosperity. >> during the war, people worked six-day weeks. then all of a sudden, life changed. they were living in the suburbs for the first time. >> you had vacations for the first time. >> the economy was booming and there was a lot of disposable income. >> let's buy stuff.
7:38 pm
>> we start to become a nation of consumers. >> we start buying televisions and hi-fi stereo systems and you might even buy a car or two, shocker. >> car culture was important, especially in the suburbs. you needed a car now. just even the artistry of those cars, the paint job and the lines. those cars became really a symbol of america's prosperity and american style. >> once people started buying things, then you have to design things and a whole industry is built around that. it grows very quickly. these exploding catalog businesses, department stores, jcpenney, macy's. >> keeping up with the joneses became a new defining your identity through the material goods you possess. >> it's great times and people are buying a lot of stuff to buy a lot of stuff.
7:39 pm
>> after the war, i think is perhaps more confidence and a better understanding and identification of what qualifies as american. >> art, for example, the abstract expressionists revolutionized ideas of modern art. popular music, jazz, the invention of fast food. american architecture, the shopping mall. it was american cultural dominance on a global stage. >> but there's this tension of the 1950s. there's more prosperity and optimism, but there's this sinister undercurrent going on. >> mass conformity cast a very long and dark shadow over american culture. -these people, they speak a language we cannot understand.
7:40 pm
♪ [ telephone ringing ] -whoa. [ indistinct talking ] -deductible? -definitely speaking insurance. -additional interest on umbrella policy? -can you translate? -damage minimization of civil commotion. -when insurance needs translating, get answers in plain english at ♪ -he wants you to sign karen's birthday card. it's a high honor.
7:41 pm
7:42 pm
7:43 pm
in california the fbi rounds up 12 more. they are arraigned on charges of conspiracy.
7:44 pm
>> during the 1950s, the united states began its cold war with the soviet union, which led to an intense climate of repression at home and an emphasis upon conformity. >> communist party in the united states should be outlawed. it's a conspiracy to take over our government by force. >> if i had my way about, it they'd all be sent back to russia. >> communism was a label that was thrown around to label anything foreign and strange and threatening. anybody who was dressing different, if you were a beat guy and you were wearing your beret and your dark glasses, somebody was going to accuse you of being a communist. >> so there was this attempt to make everyone in the society act the same way, talk the same way and dress the same way. >> clothing advertisements become downright paranoid. they had things like dress carefully, you can't afford not to. people are watching you.
7:45 pm
>> when men came back after the war and went back into business, they adopted the gray flannel suit. it was a new uniform. they had their army uniform or navy uniform, and now they had their business uniform. >> the image there is someone who is just dressed for the corporation, the machine and his role as a cog in the machine. >> business attire began to get very specific rules at what you could and couldn't wear. >> guys all wore a very similar style lapel on their suits. they were grey flannel, skinny ties, a hat. hats were huge at that period of time. if your boss was wearing a gray flannel suit and a white shirt and a red tie and wingtips, you should probably do the same. >> you didn't want to rock the boat. that meant very austere, limited
7:46 pm
color, limited patterns. it was about fitting in. everyone wanted to look the same. >> but if men had a job where the gray flannel suit was part of their everyday lives, i think they were actually grateful. >> the soldier version of wartime masculinity shifted to the suburban father/breadwinner. >> it was seen as a good thing to be part of that great endeavor, which was rebuilding post-war america and the prosperity of those years that followed. ♪ >> women were strongly encouraged to go back to the home in the 1950s. >> some of the women wanted to keep working, but then some of the women did want to go back and just be mothers again. for men it was like, okay,
7:47 pm
things are back to normal. your executive husband is back home now. you need to become the housewife. >> to have been included in the workplace for a time and then being in essence kicked out, this is a hard thing to digest. >> but it was almost un-american for them to think they should keep their job when servicemen were coming home. >> their style of dress was then tailored to what was thought to be appropriate for a housewife. and there were books like ann fogerty's wife dressing, which explained how you had to dress to help your husband succeed in his career. >> well, whenever we cook inside, mom always does the cooking. and whenever we cook outside, you always do it. how come? >> it's sort of traditional, i guess. you know, they say a woman's place is in the home. i suppose as long as she's in the home, she might as well be in the kitchen.
7:48 pm
>> oh. >> you had to wear nice clothes so your children, particularly your daughter, would model herself on a feminine mom. you shouldn't even claeb clean the house or vacuum wearing blue jeans because your daughter would get the wrong idea. >> there was much more pressure in society to make sure that the family looked perfect. >> it became a time where that very white bread conservative nuclear family ruled. and the minute we see it on television, this was the kind of "leave it to beaver" family that becomes the image that popular culture is trying to say is the image we need to aspire to. but in fact, there was a movement in the 1950s who rebelled against that and said, you know, this is not natural. this is not the way people live. and this is an artificial construct you're trying to put on us to try to live up to when no one can live up to that kind of focus.
7:49 pm
>> the '50s came to a head when the kids started to rebel against the structures of their parents' generation. (engaging uptempo music) - with tripadvisor finding the right hotel at the lowest price is as easy as dates, deals, done. going on a work trip? dates, deals, done. destination wedding? dates, deals, done. because with tripadvisor all you have to do is enter the dates of your stay and we'll take care of the rest: searching over 200 booking sites to find you the best deal it's as easy dates, deals, you know the rest.
7:50 pm
(owl hoots) read reviews, check hotel prices, book things to do, tripadvisor. i am not for just treating my symptoms... (ah-choo) i am for shortening colds when i'm sick. with zicam. zicam is completely different. unlike most other cold medicines... ...zicam is clinically proven to shorten colds. i am a zifan for zicam. oral or nasal. hey, darryl. would you choose the network rated #1 in the nation by the experts, or the one awarded by the people? uh... correct! you don't have to choose, 'cause, uh... oh! (vo) switch to the network awarded by rootmetrics and j.d. power. buy one of our best phones, get one on us. to be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing it's best to make you everybody else... ♪ ♪
7:51 pm
means to fight the hardest battle, which any human being can fight and never stop. does this sound dismal? it isn't. ♪ ♪ it's the most wonderful life on earth. ♪ ♪ . . .
7:52 pm
♪ if you think rock and roll
7:53 pm
won't diminish in popularity, what do you think sustains i think popularity? >> well, sir, rock and roll has been around for many years. i personally don't think it will ever die completely out because they're going to have to get something mighty good to take its place as far as the young people are concerned. >> what about improving it morally and maybe taking the wiggle out of it? >> well, sir, you take the wiggle out of it, it is finished. ♪ the' 50s really sees the birth of the teenager as a phenomenon. during the great depression, if kids could be working they were working. >> in the '50s most teens no longer had to work so they were no longer forced to be an adult. >> they had allowances. >> there was idle time. there was time to get in trouble. >> the '50s had its radical side inasmuch as young people started to create their own culture. >> you have dating, which was a
7:54 pm
semi new phenomenon with less supervision. >> along came like rock and roll. ♪ >> rock stars like elvis were seen as being terrifyingly sexual. the new dances were all seen as being so sexual. >> so suddenly movies are these voluptous women like marilyn monroe and sex becomes very front and center. >> the role models that they had were vastly different than their parents. >> the beatnicks were really starting to come up, poets, artists, the actors, james dean. >> have you ever been in a drag race? >> are you kidding me? >> so there are a lot of different influences inspiring the younger generations to really break away from their parents. >> i mean their parents were june and ward cleaver and they
7:55 pm
were like, "this is so square." that's the word they used back then. you're totes square. >> the embracive iconic figures represented that moment when teenagers began to define themselves on their own terms and not their parents'. >> you see, we just like to live and have a good time. we don't see why our parents should find us so mysterious. >> the rebellious teenagers were making their statements and being heard, and they were starting to effect and determine style. >> from tough boy denim to black leather jackets, they were looking towards blue collar workers for their inspiration. >> before cowboys wore jeans, people in factories would wear jeans. >> teenagers were being inspired by motorcycle culture. >> teenagers were influencing the movies and then the movies were reinfluencing a broader culture across america as well. >> when teenagers started to rebel against the rules that they had grown up with, you see
7:56 pm
this tension between doing what you are supposed to do and being, you know, brando. >> on the weekends we go out and have a ball. >> what do you do? i mean do you just ride around or do you go on some sort of a picnic or something? >> a picnic? man, you are too square. i have to straighten you out. listen, you don't go any one special place. that's corn ball style. you just go. ♪ >> marlon brando came to hollywood, rebelling against the conformity of the 1950s. he was fortunate in that he had two roles at the very start of his career that allowed him to be who he was, so we see him as stanley kowalski in "a streetcar named desire" and as a rebel motorcycle rider in "the wild one." that's the movie where a young woman says to brando, what are you rebelling against? >> what have you got?
7:57 pm
>> brando iconicized the tee shirt. >> brando starts wearing this white tee shirt in public and the sales of men's tee shirts skyrocketed at that point. >> he made it okay to wear a tee shirt as a top. it wasn't underwear anymore. >> there was a freedom that was coming out in fashion at that point in time that was more individual. it became of more about, you know, what their image was when they walked out on the street. >> brando, his clothes seemed effortless. ♪ i think it is interesting that the three iconic male section objects of the 1950s, marlon brando, james dean and elvis presley, are very similar on one level, in that they're all rebels. they're all defiant to social norms. they dress to confront, they're hostile, aggressive, but they
7:58 pm
also have this vulnerability, this real feeling of needing to be taken care of. there's that softness within the gruff exterior. that helped define how we saw masculinity going forward. i do think these three characters in the 1950s set that trend that has really gone on ever since. >> in the '40s america had an inferiority complex about their style. >> what is so hugely important about the '40s and the '50s is that rise of american designers. >> individual style started to emerge. >> there was a lot of discovery. american style became globally significant and globally influential. >> the '40s and the '50s are as
7:59 pm
timeless as you can imagine. even today, every red carpet is rooted in that period. >> we had europe as the icon, but we were developing our own thing. >> old rules were breaking down, so what was once seen as completely unacceptable, now suddenly they're rethinking that. >> the big change is that people stopped hiding what they wanted. >> the '50s came to a head when the kids started to express their independence, their liberation, their sexuality. there was a great bifurcation in american culture between overt sexuality and repressed sexuality. that tension is what created the '60s. >> by the '60s there are a lot of people in america who are no longer interested in conforming. >> the '60s turned a switch, and
8:00 pm
that switch just changed everything. ♪ tonight, television takes a look at itself. >> what's on the idiot box? it's only an idiot box if someone is looking at it. >> i'll tell you about the golden age of television in this period of time. they looked upon it as the platinum age. >> our obligation is to entertainment. if we've left something to think about, so much the better. >> television should not be just entertainment. >> charges were leveled at the commercial television networks. >> congress has no right to interfere in the media. >> excuse me! >> we have the responsibility to give the audience what it tuned in to see.


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on