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POP Culture 1945 – Present

The end of World War ll with its’ mobilisation of Industry and Resources and the Atomic Bomb ushered in the Nuclear Age, the Nuclear family, the baby boomers’ generation. All these things sowed the seeds of a booming popular culture. Average incomes after World War ll increased five times faster than the 1901 – 1940 period. By 1945 two full days of rest (weekends) was law and annual paid holidays increased from one week to two weeks.

World War ll stopped a lot of markets between Australia and the world. So Australia started to manufacture goods you couldn’t get any more. This led to more jobs than they could fill, so with all this work around there was more money to spend. This led to a population explosion and bringing in all the British and European migrants to take up the jobs. A lot of the house building, concreting was done by Europeans who later influenced what food we would eat and other customs.

In 1947 half the population had home ownership. By 1966 ¾ of the population owned (or were on the way) to owning their own homes. From 1945 to 1959 private National Debt was increased almost 60 tiBy 1954 60,000,000 comics were purchased every year in Australia. Kids took their comics to the Saturday arvo pictures and swapped them, but comics were looked down on by a lot of parents as rubbish. Comics declined with T.V., V.C.R.s and video games.

By 1938 2/3 of homes had a radio. It was the housewives constant companion, delivering soap operas and handy hints by the day. It was the child’s after school friend, adventure show and activity clubs and serials like Superman, Dad & Dave and Biggles. At night it became the after dinner entertainment for all the family. Quiz shows, plays & music. You had to use your imagination a lot more in those days!

Australians in 1945 were the most frequent film goers in the world. In 1945 there were 151,000,000 annual cinema admissions in a nation of less than 7,500,000. 1940’s & 1950’s was dominated by American movies with a trickle of British films. Due to T.V. cinema audiences plummeted. By 1955 there were 1,700 cinemas in Australia and by 1966 700 had closed down. The renaissance of Australian films was a stop/start affair, but finally got off the ground by the 1970’s. The Government funded our films, actors and technicians with tax cuts and film schools. Which resulted in some of our home ground stars and film technicians becoming internationally famous. Meanwhile the clash of technologies changed behaviour and attitude.

People sang at parties or around the piano (pianola – an automatic piano that played by itself). Sing-a-long records were popular with people singing along to some films (following the bounding ball). Radio and sing-a-long T.V. shows. Records were popular, romantic ballads, musicals, novelty songs (i.e. the Chipmunks – crazy effects, echo sounding songs.) Children and teenagers basically followed their parents’ taste in music …. that is until rock and roll landed on the planet. In 1955 the movie “Blackboard Jungle” used Bill Hayley’s “Rock around the clock” as the soundtrack to a film about juvenile (teens) delinquency and from then on a lot of older people thought rock and roll was trouble. Teenagers in the 1950’s for the first time in history had their own money and spent it on what they wanted.

…. Youth culture was born. The 1960’s ushered in the British bands like the Beatles, Rolling Stones etc. America which led the way in the 1950’s had to wait awhile to recapture the popular music markets. Everything coming out of Britain was Fab! Brill! Carnaby Street (fashion) and of course Beatlemania. YEAH! YEAH! YEAH! Popular music really became in those years, totally youth oriented, and music like ballads, love songs, musicals, all but disappeared, to make way for all the different types of rock that swamped us (i.e. Psychedelic Rock, Sergeant Peppers, Folk Rock, Simon & Garfunkel, Soul Rock, James Brown) etc. With youth culture came the protest culture. Protest culture always existed in small political pockets in society, but with the rise of youth culture it became sexy and fashionable to protest. The generation gap had never been wider. Youth argued with their parents over politics, music, fashion, food, drugs and lifestyle. It was a hard time for parents.

Generation Y found that there was now less jobs and even with a University degree, jobs were betting harder to come by. And with the rise in part time jobs, full time employment (which you need to buy a car, get married, build a home etc.) was slowly drying up.

Generation Y felt that they baby boomers (born just after W.W. ll) had stolen their future and so they embraced technology and hoped this would lead them to a better future?

Australia has always punched above its’ weight in sports, and it takes a very large slice of our popular culture. The cartoons of sport in this exhibition just touch on the subject, as sport deserves its’ own exhibition all to itself. So enjoy popular culture from 1945 to the Present. This is a year 10 history subject and other shows on our website like Drink Like a Fish, T.V. or NOT T.V. and Life is a Beach & Video are extensions of the exhibition. In the future we’ll have complete exhibitions on Music, Sport, B.B.Q’s, Comics, Radio to completely fill out what is introduced in this exhibition.

Enjoy, James Bridges, President