If You Think The 1950s Were Better, Watch This
If You Think The 1950s Were Better Watch This

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This is a portion of my 6 part PBS television series, making sense of the 60s. You can't look at the 1960s and what happened without looking at the life young people lead in the 1950s. Especially suburban white teenagers. Some of you may say that you didn't have those rules way back then. Some of you may say that you liked the rules. But in my examination of this time, we found at least 40% of those who grew up back then, hated these rules. Unspoken rules. Social pressure rules. When I interview these people as adults, they all felt the same rules even though they were not written down.


iscrewy : Every 60s documentary is the same. Just more baby boomer circle-jerking. "Hey guys, remember how bad things were before us? Remember when WE discovered sex? Remember when WE made rock music? Remember when WE single-handedly ended Jim Crow?" Lol, everything good that happened in the 60s (and bad, to be fair) was done by your parents' generation. They were the ones holding political power at the time, not a bunch of stoned college kids. And when you guys did get into power, you were mostly neo-cons.

苑安雄 : 'Control your emotions' is an extremely important point that we need to reemphasise today.

cmmndrblu : "everyone watched ozzie and harriet and assumed they lived that live." nowdays just replaced "ozzie and harriet" with "facebook and instagram..."

Banania : It's a shame that the video is so one-dimensional in it's criticism towards the 50s, i think the reality is a bit more complex than "everything was fake and oppressive". Once the late 60s and 70s came around, divorce rates skyrocketed and families became a disintegrated mess with many single mothers and the archetypal "divorced dad" became a thing. This wonderful flowery freedom people achieved in the late 60s came with a juicy pricetag, not once mentioned in the video. People dismiss the nuclear family so easily nowadays.

Real One : imagine in 20 years they'll do one of 2010s, they would describe this time as the depression-era.

Spooksville Scoob : The 60's weren't any better. The 60's "cultural revolution" is bearing rotten fruit. Also, cringy videos "teaching kids the proper way to behave" versus what we have today? Complete moral relativism and chaotic nihilism? Suicide rates the number 1 killer of men between the ages of 18 and 59? A rudderless generation dropping out of society? Pointing out that things weren't perfect don't mean that things are any better today; we just have more communications tech today.

D. Carmo : The wanting of order, civility, and family values more likely came from what the "greatest" generation experienced. The 30s and 40s brought hunger pains, high rate of unemployment, and the knowledge of a bomb that could wipe out a city. That kind of experience of a collective low point may reasonably gravitate people toward structure and decency. A lot of baby boomers who'd eventually rebel against those values were able to practice a life of loiter and pleasure due to their parents taking on the mental and physical burden of maintaining a family and a check book.

Mike Marley : At least familys were staying together and divorce was not so common except in hollywood who eventually made it fashonable.

Opinunate ted : Things were economically better in the fifties. But people were pretty isolated in their suburbs. The extended family has broken down, no grandparents, aunts, and uncles and cousins for a housewife to hang out with in the daytime, to help take care of the kids, to talk about problems with. alone all day with the TV, cleaning the house, watching the soaps, wondering why her nice clean house isn't making her happy. So she goes to the doctor, talks about vague symptoms, sad, low energy, irritable, anxious, trouble sleeping. putting on weight. He smiles, lights another Camel, prescribes her a hundred valiums for her nerve s, a hundred dexedrines for her energy and weight, a hundred seconals to help her sleep. Tells her to come back in when her supply runs low. Those are tranquilizers, amphetamines, and barbiturates, and I'm not exaggerating, they did get prescribed that way. Now, Suzy is in high school, becoming a young lady, but she is feeling the same symptoms as her mommy, the same kinds of problems. Not popular at school. Nerves, lonely, sad, putting on weight. So mommy takes her to the same doc and he gives her the same kinds of pills. It's called "better living through chemistry." Later, Suzy goes to college, then wastes her education by going to the Hiaght Asbury in San Francisco. She fgets involved with smoking marijuana, dropping acid, sleeping around, acting crazy, later ends up doing reds, meth, smack, her parents wonder why. We raised her right. Why the hell did she run off and get all messed up on drugs?

Mike Gehre : Pfft! Nobody believed these shows were real life. The films were guidelines. Yes, everyone was expected to obey authority. Now? Sheesh-violence, insolence and anarchy

jmbuff1 : The cultural revolution of the 60's is much more complex than a simple reaction to the "stultifying 50's" as this documentary would have you believe. There is a significant political component left out here that leaves a gaping hole in this analysis. In particular, the political movement of the "New Left" and the post modernists of the 60's had much more to do with the 60's and it was decades in the making. It's roots can actually be traced as far back as Kant who was critical of Enlightenment values, and even Marx to some degree with his hatred of capitalism. Why it happened in the 60's has more to do with timing related to World War II and certain events exposing communism during the early Cold War. It's a complex history that can't be explained in a YouTube post, but Stephen Hicks' book "Explaining Postmodernism" is an excellent resource that goes much deeper into the intellectual roots of the 60's revolution. I can assure you it wasn't Ozzie and Harriet that gave us the radical changes to society brought about in the 60's and ever since..

Robby Bonfire : Ok, here is a woman who was not around in the fifties telling us what we who were around were all about. Problem with the Nelson’s was they were too conservative then, for the slime culture that is Hollywood, today.

Carlos Saravia : It’s there gonna be a part 2? I wanna see the rebels.

Real Deal : Haha the 50s were great.

Randall Munson : “Jenny thinks parking in cars with boys at night will make her popular” .... yeah, it will! I’m going to call her right now. She’s older now but I’ll bet she still puts out !

YusefDeeb69 : so you're saying that 1950s educational films led to Woodstock? I'm not following the logic

coreycox2345 : I was five when the 50's ended. My honest recollection was pretty much "Leave it to Beaver." We had relatives outside the nuclear family who had problems (like being in jail) but it really was innocent and somewhat idyllic. At least until 1965. From this, I may have been lucky to have not reached puberty until the 60's.

prayerpatroller : What a shallow analysis of the 50's. I'll take their divorce rate over ours any day, and pretty much every other statistic too. We've taken some steps forward, but many more steps backwards, and we've taken the largest step of all, the step of arrogance. We think we're so smart.

MisterZ3r0 : Thanks for the video, Mr. Hoffman. Your documentaries are insightful.

Teri G : This is really interesting. You can see two opposing dysfunctional ways of thinking between the maladaptive social rules of the 50s with the resulting, countering maladaptions taken on by those who grew up at the time. Conformity isn't entirely good or bad. It's bad to be oppressed and repressed, but it's good to have some rules and standards. It seems like millennials are a result of parents who didn't give us clear cut ways of being in life.

Warren McFerran : I lived in the 1950s. That period was better. Saying that no one lived like Ozzie and Harriet, or like Leave It to Beaver, is ludicrous. My family did!

jack meeellleee : the twenties will make the sixties look like the fifties

Daniel Eyre : Yup my parents, uncles, aunts and even grandparents told me things were worse back then. Crime was worse and life was worse and most families weren’t functional. But people didn’t talk about their problems out of embarrassment. And conformity and bullying were rife.

Midnight Ryder : One must look at this point in history as being the pivot separating what kept mankind from going extinct for thousands of years, to what we have today. People of today are unable to fathom what everyday life was like. People then went to bed at 8 pm cause there was no electricity and it got dark. You raised children with the intent of giving them the knowledge and skills to survive, and carry on the family name. Most children didn’t make it to age of 16. We lived in tight knit communities. Most ppl never traveled more than 25 miles from where they were born. Teenagers have always been the ones to challenge their previous generations way of doing it. The 50’s marked the end of traditional ideas, and allowed new generations to set new standards to keep up with progress. This is the rabbit hole which has led us to what we have today. Raising children in 2018, there is no right way. Ones ability to raise children has deteriorated. It will never again be as it was. Things move forward exponentially towards an unknown path. The rebellion of each generation has steered us to the now, as it pertained to each generation, with little foresight to long term.

Brian Arbenz : I predict the boy shown at the 6:00 mark will rebel in the Sixties by marrying a witch!

ian1493 : The 1950s involved a lot of social pressure and conformity. But this helped to avoid things like single motherhood, broken families and crime. It's was perhaps too overbearing but the flipside of that was lackadaisical nihilism best embodied by drug addled hippies living out of vans. Nothing good came from that, just weakness. Easy times create soft people and those people are the baby boomers. Thanks for damaging the nuclear family, assholes.

nenabunena : this doc making it seem like conformity was so horrible and only of the past. the west have always valued individuality over conformity, which is why they always have innovations by that 1 single individual who wants to change things. here in asia, conformity is still pretty much in, whether being promiscuous is now conformity or being conservative is now or in the past conformity, it is inherent in the culture

Ecléctico Iconoclasta : I would definitely want to bring back the economic policies of the Eisenhower administration but with the individual liberties we have today. That was the age of the highest prosperity of the country and the rich were well taxed, there was a major infraestructure renewal which created millions of jobs, state colleges were free and there was some very useful tariffs which protected jobs in the country. The economic policies part is what the republicans don´t want from the 50s. They are only interested in the social authoritarianism and the racism parts of it.

Stoned Dreaming : The people who are alive today who claim this was indeed better wouldn't think of actually living in those days. Wouldn't dream of losing their individuality for this level of conformity.

GusBusPlus : Damn those 2050s human juveniles, with their extended lives and brains in jars.

Imfphas20 : Myth? It was an ideal. Ideals are something one always strives towards.

Ryan W : Nice to see conservatives miss the point. While the video should have been more even handed, the takeaway should be that there are down sides to both liberal and conservative media. The dominance of far left bias in contemporary media and education is not great, but a conservative bias isn't much better. Some of the advice given by parents in this video was good, but given the cultural backlash later on, it can't be viewed as having succeeded. We need both conservative and liberal voices in the media, ones that engage with each other in an honest effort of getting at the truth and doing right by everyone. What we don't need is to engage in partisanship that makes us all shortsighted to the broad arcs of history.

Danny Kelly : I'm from Ireland I work 7 days a week 12 hours a day not many days off I think I'd rather like to be born in 50s America


ReptileMan 0912 : A point made in this video is that families tried to portray themselves in the 50s as "perfect" and "functioning", but the harsh reality is that there are always dysfunctions. The culture of that time period was a "keep your business to yourself" which can sound appealing but in some cases as when my mother had to witness her father brutally beating her mother and my mom as a pre-teen screaming outside for help with people turning a blind-eye was something that occurred then which wouldn't be tolerated now. How society viewed your family was vital in that period's culture and efforts made to keep an image were important -- this is why many disabled children were often given away to homes because of the fear of embarrassment or damage to a family's reputation. There were goods and bads, for sure

Glen Winstein : Depends what you compare.   Dwight D. Eisenhower while more had more.   Obama/Trump whie more have less in an oligarchy.   Dwight warned about growth of the military/industrial complex.   Now it's grown out of control.

Charles Mascari : I lived through the 50's, these people didn't. The 50's wasn't a myth.

Mussi93 : To all the whining people on here talking about how people had "values" and that life was easier and better back then: Just because you can't understand and deal with the complexities of modern life, doesn't mean that nobody can. You like it the easy way and don't want to change your way of life, we get it. The mother should stay at home, cook, make a few babies and die. the father should get a job, come home at 5 and get some coffee freshly made by his wife who was just waiting for him to come home. What a great life, there's no need to question anything, just function everyday. A simple life for simple minds.

LookABear : I find particular interest in a bit dated historical analyses of boomers lives.

xxvamp03xx : 1950's = fake. I never liked that decade even though I never lived it.

centervilletn : the 45 through 63 were prosperous years for americans...ww2 devistated most of the world and we had new manufacturing facilities and lots of new infrastructure...ect...

nostalgic guy : 1960s: I don’t need your ruuuullles man. 2010s: My kid just OD’d and his stepdad is on unemployment

Captain Totes : I don't understand why there are so many dislikes on this video. Oh right, maybe it's because people are delusionally nostalgic about the 50s

Stephen Hogan : In the 50s we had rules for doing the right thing. Today there are no rules for behavior and people tend to misbehave like children. The ideal would be people willingly behaving like civilized human beings without needing rules.

Jsuarez6 : 1:12 Mr. Steven Mintz!!! He was my history professor at the University of Houston way back in the 1997. He had a bit of dry humor. His class was enjoyable.

missartist123 : My husband is a lot like this. He’s from India and sometimes it feels like he stepped out of the 50’s

Cillian Murphy : I really prefer nowdays.. back then everyone where the same

Herb Sewell : A compelling perspective. While the notion that people were repressing themselves as a whole is plausible, it's difficult to prove and isn't grounded as the other claims were. Even allowing everything here as true, the laudator temporis acti may still believe the cultural norms of the 1950s are a model to be approached to come closer to the ideal set of behaviors, even if the model itself may be excessive, as moral laxity and self-expression might currently be in excess, or even say of the two sets of mores, modern day and that of the 1950s, that of the latter is preferable, despite its drawbacks.

chrisbacos : Jenny's a ho (hahaaha). Don't read comic books, don't stand out. That same mentality even carried over into the 60s and 70s when I was a schoolboy.