President Obama dismissed the Republican convention in these terms:
“Despite all the challenges that we face … what they offered over those three days was more often than not an agenda that was better suited for the last century. It was a re-run. We’ve seen it before. You might as well have watched it on a black-and-white TV.”
If only it were! That was the last time anything was consistently good on television. That was the golden age of TV, the era of Jack Benny, Gracie Allen, Rod Serling, Edward R. Murrow.
The Eisenhower administration! The early Elvis! Intact families! Route 66!
I guess the dividing line would be one’s attitude to the counter culture beginning in the late 1960s. Liberals would generally favor that, I suppose, with Conservatives bemoaning the changes (e.g., the sexual revolution).
Though the era of black-and-white TV was a vibrant, creative, and positive time culturally for America, it was no utopia, with real problems. For example, the institutionalized racism of the Jim Crow laws. But compare the early Civil Rights protesters–moral, religious, dignified–with today’s Occupy Wall Street protesters (unfocused, hedonistic, squalid). And, if you want counter culture, surely the Beatniks, reading existentialist philosophy and listening to jazz, were cooler than the Hippies, tripped out on acid and wearing flowers in their hair.
I wonder if we could date our cultural collapse from the advent of color television. (The first all-color lineup was in 1966, which would be about right.)