One of the best examples of how pop culture has influenced ideals and values in the Western world can be seen with respect to the influence of popular music. Even during the pre-war and World War II years, popular music coincided with values and beliefs and influenced social...
One of the best examples of how pop culture has influenced ideals and values in the Western world can be seen with respect to the influence of popular music. Even during the pre-war and World War II years, popular music coincided with values and beliefs and influenced social movements.
In his book titled Cultures of Popular Music, author Andy Bennett cites studies conducted by Ralph Willett on Swing Jugend, the Swing Kid movement of the 1930s and 40s, found in Willett's 1989 article titled "Hot Swing and the Dissolute Life," published in volume 8, issue 2 of the journal Popular Music. During these years, American big band jazz music, also called swing, of artists like "Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller and Artie Shaw" became widely popular all over central Europe even in Germany (as cited in Bennett, p. 8). When America joined the war on the side of the Allies, the Nazi regime began forbidding the sale of swing. European youth used swing and the formation of the Swing Kid movement to instigate a "salient form of resistance to Nazi ideology both in occupied European countries and in Germany itself" (as cited in Bennett, p. 8). Hence, the pop-cultural trend of swing music in the 1930s and 40s played a prominent role within Western culture to protest against the Nazi regime.
After the war years, in the 1950s, popular music also significantly influenced and coincided with changes in Western culture. In the 1950s, the emergence of rock n' roll, a blend of both white and African-American music cultures, played a significant role in developing and underscoring changes in Western cultural ideologies and values. Elvis Presley was one of the most influential contributors to merging white and African-American music cultures by, according to Bobbie Ann Mason in her book Elvis Presley: A Life (2007), merging "disparate strands of blues, country, and gospel into a fiercely dynamic sound." This mergence helped to influence and underscore America's growing drive to break divisions between races, particularly seen in the racial segregation laws of the South. Hence, the pop-cultural trend of rock n' roll music coincided with and further helped to develop America's fight for civil rights.
Beyond merging racial music cultures, rock n' roll served to merge other cultural values, such as with respect to sexuality. African-American rock n' roll was far more sexual than the tamed down white versions of rock n' roll. Author Bennett points out that Presley also played a significant roll in bridging the racial divide between sexual values through singing while employing hip thrusts and other sexual gyrations. Bennett cites Jon Michael Spencer's chapter found in the book In Search of Elvis: Music, Race, Art, Religion (1997), edited by Vernon Chadwick, to argue that "Presley was instrumental in what [Spencer] terms the 'sexual seduction of whites into blackness' which ultimately gave rise to 'new and acceptable attitudes about sexuality' in white society" (as cited in Bennnett, p. 14).
The changes in attitudes toward sexuality influenced and underscored by the pop-cultural trend of rock n' roll also coincided with the Women's Liberation Movement of the 1960s and 70s, since one thing women of these eras protested against was the imprisonment of sexual values still being held on to since the Victorian era. Hence, the pop-cultural trend of music also influenced pop-cultural movements such as the Civil Rights Movement and the Women's Liberation Movement.