How did the Cold War affect popular culture?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Cold War facilitated the concept of demonizing "the other."  When we examine how the Cold War influenced popular culture, it did so through the belief that the Communists were "wrong," or were "unholy."  There was little in way of understanding "the other," the dialectical opposite of American culture.  Rather, there was a wholesale condemnation of it being wrong and anything associated it as being wrong.  The rise of Joe McCarthy was but a small reflection of this attitude.  Another cultural reflection of the Cold War was to create a sense of binary dualism where one side was "correct" and another was "incorrect."  It fostered a simplification of global and internal affairs.  Such a dualism benefits those in the position of power because it removes complexity and critical thought in the equation, forcing individuals to simply embrace what is being told in terms of who or what defines the enemy.  In this light, the cultural effect of the Cold War was to not embrace a spirit of questioning or intricacy, but rather exist with an end product that is reflective of the attitude and demeanor associated with "winning."

larrygates eNotes educator| Certified Educator

During the Cold War, Communism was considered an insiduous threat which stood to invade American culture; it's only face, of course was the Soviet Union. Aside from its military power, most Americans were influenced by the athiestic nature of Communism. It was in direct response to the percieved threat of Communism that Americans began attending Church in droves. The words "In God We Trust" were added to our currency and the words "Under God" added to the Pledge of Allegiance. Movies such as "My Son John" and books such as Herbert Hoover's "None Dare Call it Treason"  played heavily on the idea that Communism would not take the country militarily, but by subterfuge. To be a communist or even a socialist was considered the worst form of treason. This in addition to the construction of bomb shelters, duck and cover drills, etc. in response to the percieved threat of a nuclear attack.

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