Like everything, entertainment is something that changes over the years. People’s tastes and what is acceptable at the time are heavy factors in what is produced and becomes popular. Another factor is the technology available at the time. Music, TV, and movies are all subject to these changes. While they seem slight at the time, looking by decades at entertainment makes changes seem huge in retrospect.
If we were to go back to the 1950s, we would see a much different layout and content coming from all those avenues of entertainment. Jazz and Blues were just starting to evolve into Rock & Roll, with the help of artists like Elvis Presley. TV shows were really starting to take off in popularity, with shows like “I Love Lucy” and “The Twilight Zone.” Movies, having been popular in previous decades, continued to evolve and films like “Singing in the Rain” and “Rebel Without a Cause” are released. The films and shows then were tame and very clean, with little swearing and small conflicts. The only bit of scary or strange comes with “The Twilight Zone,” which is perhaps one of the reasons it is still a classic today. Given the time, Elvis was considered a bit of a rebel and garnered controversy over his dance moves, which were censored on TV performances because they were considered scandalous.
Jump to the ‘60s and more rock bands like the Beatles and the Rolling Stones take the world by storm. Rock music was still considered scandalous but immensely popular, and the masses ate it up. On the film side of things, “Psycho” and “To Kill a Mockingbird” were released – two films that are still important and revolutionary today. Conflicts became more intense and emotional, and techniques in cinematography were better developed. For TV, more breakthroughs were made. The first televised presidential debate was held: Nixon vs. Kennedy. Famously, the Beatles made their television debut in America and gave them an even wider audience than they already had – they even made three live-action movies later in the decade.
In the ‘70s, bands like Pink Floyd, Led Zepplin, and AC/DC gave rock a grittier feel, while David Bowie and Michael Jackson shaped the dance-influenced pop music or “glam rock.” Films became more emotion-driven and focused on larger stories, with films like “The Godfather” and “Alien.” “Star Wars” also shook the box office and pioneered many special effects that are used today. TV stayed largely the same, but also became more over-the-top and centered on action heroes, with shows like “Hawaii Five-O.”
In the ‘80s, dance music became much more popular, and rock split into metal and grunge with bands such as Nirvana, Kiss, and Slayer emerging. Queen also became a popular band at the time. Comedies and action movies became very popular as well, with movies such as “Ghostbusters,” “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” and “Die Hard.” “The Shining” also became a staple of the horror genre. On TV, things were very similar to the ‘70s with shows like “Full House” and “Max Headroom.”
The ‘90s really shook things up. Rebellious tendencies were everywhere. Nirvana was in full swing, as well as Green Day and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Rap music also broke onto the scene, with Tupac and Notorious B.I.G. In movies, many films still popular today were released. “Schindler’s List” was one of the most important films of the decade. “Fight Club” was a real treat for audiences, with a twist ending and misdirection playing out. “Pulp Fiction” was also released – a film that would no doubt have traumatized audiences from the 1950s. On TV, sitcoms were ever so popular, such as “Friends,” but the TV show “Unsolved Mysteries” also aired, placing true crime at the forefront of TV. And now there’s today. Entertainment has become much more frenzied. Music has different styles to please audiences all over. Movies dazzle people with special effects, cinematography, and storytelling. TV can be funny, important, informative, or mindless. Our entertainment evolves with our preferences, and those are always changing. All forms of media will continue to evolve far into the future to become whatever people of the time most value, and what is popular becomes a mainstay in the medium for decades to come.