The Greaser subculture was a largely American phenomena among the working class youth and motorcycle enthusiasts of the 1950’s. They were usually portrayed as of Italian or Latino descent in US pop culture of the time and were known for their flashy appearance and demeanor.
Greasers may have gotten their name from the ethnic slur for Italians, greaseball, because it implied that someone was the lowliest of the low and dealt in matters of filth. Greasers were also known as hoods or hoodlums because of their prevalence in crime addled neighborhoods.
The Greaser style was an important element to the culture, wearing leather was mandatory in most cliques, and letterman and bomber jackets were also popular. The Pompadour and the S-Curl were two of the most common hair styles among Greasers though others like the Duck’s ass were also common.
Greaser culture evolved out of motorcycle clubs who were formed by veterans of World War Two who came back to America with little ambition to rehabilitate into society from wartime.
The Greaser culture has become one with the memory of 1950-60’s America which also includes Muscle cars, motorcycles. American musical legends like Elvis Presley and movies and musicals on Broadway such as American Graffiti and Grease.
There were exceptions to the portrayal of Greasers as ethnic characters such as The Outsiders. Famous actors like Marlon Brando and James Dean heavily influenced Greaser culture during its popularity.
Greaser culture is no longer seen on the streets of America but there has been a romanticizing of 1950’s culture including Greasers in recent years. The video game Fallout has many references to Greasers in it as much of the culture and style of the Wasteland is based on 1950’s America. Greasers have played an important part in American culture since their beginning and will continue to play a part for many years to come.
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