Elvis Presley: Nuclear Sex Bomb

I’ve been holding off writing this post for a while, since sex has been, in one way or another, a key subject in several of my recent posts and I would actually like to move away from the topic to something else.  But I’m tired of having this page marked in this book I am reading, and I did want to share it.

The book is The Abolition of Britain by Peter Hitchens.  Published in 2000, it was written in a pre-9/11 world, yet it’s impact and relevance is not diminished — at least not so far.  I have only just begun reading it, yet so far it is meeting the high expectations I created for it after reading its marvelous introduction.  I don’t know that I can recommend it yet, having not finished it, but I must say that at this point it is beginning to look like required reading for anyone interested in where Joseph’s sons — both the UK and the US — are headed.

The passage in the introduction that I have had marked to post about was this one (from p. 13), concerning the impact of America on the mores of Britain:

The triumph of Elvis Presley, whose influence was rightly seen as revolutionary by American conservatives, brought an entirely new thing into our lives–the sexualization of the young, combined with the narcotic emotional power of modern rock music.  Even in the vast and flexible society that is the modern USA, Presley was the cultural equivalent of a 100-megaton explosion.  In Britain’s narrow, restrained atmosphere, the charge was more powerful still.  Presley dug beneath the fortifications of British sexual reserve, leaving them so weakened that John Lennon and Mick Jagger could knock them down completely.

First, this passage grabbed me because I have a couple of big Elvis fans in my life, and I am a fan of some of his music as well.  I think his incredible voice, which got better as he got older, puts many of today’s popular singers’ voices to shame.  (My wife is not one of the “big fans,” although we currently have two Elvis songs residing in my wife’s iPod and one cover of an Elvis song by someone else.  I also have a big Mick Jagger fan in my life, though I seem to be related to no John Lennon fans.)  Secondly, it is a part of Hitchens’ larger discussion of why the post-WWII surge of American “tastes” and “values” were too much for Britain’s circuitry — a really excellent analysis, which I have never considered before.

However, the passage struck me most of all because I suspect he is right and it got me to thinking of all the black and white clips of official-looking men of the time warning about the dangers of rock and roll and Elvis’ hips.  They are often shown for the sole purpose of being mocking — stuff about corrupting youth, etc.  Yet, in the final analysis, as “ridiculous” and “prudish” such warnings seem now when we compare Elvis to what we see today, those men have been vindicated to a certain degree.  We can see such things not as the doom of our sense of decency, in and of themselves, but as powerful steps in the wrong direction.

If the popularity of Elvis’ hips was the key that unlocked the door to society’s acceptance of the below-the-waist antics we see in music videos today, then Elvis should have stilled the pelvis and kept his hunka hunka burnin’ love to himself.  And, in retrospect, the debate as to whether or not his hips should have been shown on television might have been a worthwhile discussion after all.  More truly relevant than the “quaint” with which it is usually dubbed.
Makes me curious if there were any “prudes” or “Puritans” who complained when married couples on TV began to be shown in the same bed (like Mike and Carol Brady) versus in separate beds (like Ricky & Lucy Ricardo).  It may have been a change that occurred with nary a complaint at all.  I’m no expert in TV history, and perhaps there never was an explicit, codified standard about the same bed/separate beds arrangement — just an informal understanding.  I am not familiar with the politics of changing TV standards through the decades, and I would like to know how the same bed/separate beds change played out.  Perhaps some of you out there can enlighten me.

But if there were complaints about the change back then, I wonder if — were we to read them, now — hindsight would make the prudes seem more like prophets.

Regardless, so far Peter Hitchens’ The Abolition of Britain seems an incredible read — even if I am reading it seven years too late.  And if anyone out there is interested in what the Bible says about the future of America and Britain, they should check out our free booklet on the subject.  You can click on the picture below for an HTML version of the booklet, or you can click here to order a free copy to be sent to you (which will have the illustrations and maps that the HTML version is missing).

The US & GB in Prophecy

7 thoughts on “Elvis Presley: Nuclear Sex Bomb

  1. Patsy Annis

    Being 65 now, I went through the era of Elvis vs Pat Boone in my teen years. I was a “prude”. My parents were modest and taught us modesty in all we did, yet both my parents loved music and it has been a major part of my life. Where they loved “hillbilly and bluegrass gospel”, we kids were allowed to choose our own music. I was exposed to all kinds of music in school and learned to love most forms, but to this day love “cowboy” music the best. At the time Elvis came on the scene, he repulsed me — without any real influence from my parents. I didn’t see his hip movements as sexual; I saw them as ridiculous and childish. At that time, I preferred the smooth voice and clean-cut appearance of Pat Boone to the more growling sound of Elvis on his regular music.

    I responded differently to him when he sang gospel music, however. It was like he was two different people. The feeling that he put into this spiritual side of himself was far more appealing to me and to many of my friends. We looked at him in a different light with this music. The hips were not in question either when he sang like this.

    When Ed Sullivan and the media made the big issue about his hips, I remember sitting with my parents and watching the Ed Sullivan issue on TV — discussion after discussion and the media actually showing the hip movement that Ed Sullivan would not allow to be shown. We laughed at it together and could not see the problem. My parents and I all thought he just looked ridiculous. I think now that the media hype promoted the “sexuality” part of his performance. By drawing all the attention they did to it, they planted the seed in young minds that grew into the problem it became. As a performer, he probably realized the free promotion he got from the media over it and really started to emphasize his movements. Those first times I saw him on TV, he really didn’t put as much into the hip movement as he did after it drew so much attention.

    Today, as a Senior and a dancer, I appreciate his music more than I did when he was alive. I still don’t like a lot of it, but must admit there are songs that he did that are good and not harmful to us (lyrics) like so much of today’s music.

    Re the “shared bed”. I remember Lucy and Desi in separate beds and I remember asking my Mom why they had separate beds if they were married because all the married people I knew slept in one bed. She didn’t know why, but later the TV Guide ran an article about it because people were asking them why. The article said it was because of the Standards that were set at that time for what could be shown on television. The moral code was very high then. If I can remember properly, it seems that the “reality” of the issue is what finally let them change — real married people shared a bed. After all the debate, however, when they did put the married people into one bed, the country kind of went up in arms about it.

  2. I listen to a Christian radio station (Radio74.net) which actually plays Presley’s religious songs from time to time — such as “Crying in the Chapel.”

    I didn’t really think of that as a Christian song when I heard it on top 40 radio as a boy. But then someone sang it at a Feast site in the Netherlands in the mid-90’s on a “praise and worship” night. I suppose it could serve as inspirational to some people.

  3. I recognized Elvis’ tremendous talent (one of my guilty pleasures was his forerunner to the music video, “Jailhouse Rock”, and I much appreciated his “In the Ghetto” and certain other movie and religious songs). But I never allowed myself to become obsessed with him, no more than with the Beatles or many other artists and groups that had tremendous talent.

    I suspect the fact that John Denver was my musical north star when I came of age as a songwriter (about age 15 and onward) had a lot to do with all that. So did the fact that I’d been a reader of THE PLAIN TRUTH for five years already.

  4. Thinker

    Hello Mr. Smith,

    Hope you still read responses to old posts.
    I was a big Elvis fan in the past. You can maybe say that some of his music is fun and I agree that his voice got really good with songs as “Are You Lonsome Tonight?”
    But…I was baptised 1971,and I really believe that in the World Tomorrow we are not going to hear alot of the music that we have been used to in our lives. It’s not just the words. It’s the music itself and the way that it is sung. I know we can only do so much as far as listening to the correct type of music or we may not have much to listen too. Some of the classical music that has been much loved over the years may not exist in the Millenium. Rock and Roll may be good if done right or being fun music.
    How are the artists and composers going to feel when in the second ressurection they are going to be told “that is not the way”,as far as their original music?

    Thanks

  5. Howdy, Thinker —

    I do *indeed* still read responses to old posts! 🙂

    I agree. I look forward to the day when some of our most talented musicians whose directions were confused and misguided in this life will live again and direct their talents in the right direction, being mindful of Christ in everything. Should be some good stuff!

    Thanks for the comment, old post or not!

    Best regards,
    Wallace Smith

  6. Deano

    Howdy Mr. Smith,

    Man! I don’t know how I missed this one!

    Yeah, Elvis had a pretty good voice. I believe it is true that what he did wasn’t that big of a deal in and of itself. But I also believe that it opened up a door to the path on which we find ourselves today – musically speaking. And also performance-wise. Not to mention the whole attitude of the generations that have succeeded that one.

    I remember a song he recorded where the chorus went, “I’m evil – my middle name is misery . . .” I think that was the year I was born, 1968 – maybe not. Maybe he was trying to compete with the Stones’ Sympathy for the Devil or Paint it Black. I dunno.

    At any rate, things have escelated. Today we here Glen Danzig singing, “. . . and I’m tired of being alive . . . and I’m tired of your bleeding light . . . don’t try to fill me up with your lies . . .” as if God is a liar.

    Of course there are much worse than that even today.

    It brings to mind a situation in the Bible. If I remember right Judas Iscariot started out by just pilfering the money box a little here and there – but he ended up possessed by Satan at the end.

    “A little leaven”, as it were. It was a subtle beginning to a destructive end. Or so it seems.

    Anyways . . . babbled on enough.

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