Culture in America, circa 1960. Even 55 years ago, we were starting to ask questions about our accomplishments as a people – what contributions had we made as a society; not just of inventions and space-saving appliances and electronics and material accomplishments, but what about our accomplishments in the areas of Art and Music, Literature, Theatre and Film?
In 1960, that was a big concern. We were knee-deep in a Cold War, the Space Race and our Defense arsenal, and those inventions which made our military bigger, faster and more powerful seemed to be sapping us of our other strengths. Where were we in relation to music, to Art, to literature – who were the essential American writers, coming up in 1960? In fact, who were the playwrights, the serious composers, the film makers. What films were we making that reflected potent American values – those values which established out country in the first place? And what about plays and painting – who were the new and essential voices coming up, capturing the imagination and vitality of our nation.
An interesting set of questions – and in this episode of the multi-part series Image America from 1960, commentator and journalist Bob Considine asked several notable figures, among them Aaron Copland, Agnes DeMille, Stanley Kramer, Alfred Kazin, Jack Levine and many others what they felt the current status of American culture was and where it was headed.
The answers run the gamut – from optimistic to pessimistic. But we’re talking about 1960; a far and distant place and time from 2015. The innovations and developments these days are substantial, even within the past 5 years. It could never have been predicted in 1960 what it would look like in 2015. But the troublesome part is that our Culture; the Art, Literature, Film and Music have fallen into disuse and complacency – have become by-products of a post-Educated America. Our Cultural is no longer valued as it once was and innovation is more along the lines of Technology than Intellectual stimulation or artistic integrity.
Maybe listening to this episode of Image America may seem more strange and unfamiliar than quaint. And maybe that bodes for a worrisome future.
Here is that episode of Culture In America from Image America from April 18, 1960.