Before I get started here, to follow-up on my Streetcar Named Desire piece, I watched the Simpsons classic, "A Streetcar Named Marge" which the entire plot is about Stanley hitting on Blanche, whereas it was so much more subtle in the movie. So, I guess, yes, Stanley rapes her, right after having a kid. Classy, but it's New Orleans.
The Greaser either defines counter-culture, or redefines counter-culture. The best way for me to say it, is The Greaser defines POP counter-culture. Before The Greaser, I can't think of a group of youngins that not only broke off from the parental teachings, but did so in a way they caught the eye of pop culture such as the beatniks, the hippies, the gangstas, the burnouts, deadheads, goth kids, emo kids, the tattoed crowd and the hipsters with their oddly colored belts.
Shit really changed in the 1950s. Sex started becoming a wee bit freer (though it wouldn't see it's revolution until a decade later), and rock'n roll was born. Kids wanted to rebel. Children didn't rebel before the 1950s, because before the 1950s, children were too busy either fighting in WW2, being poor in the depression, or being freaked out by their parents during the roaring 20s. Everything must have been so great in that window between WW1 and the stock market collapse. What was the hell was there to rebel against?
Perhaps it was the fact that the United States became the World's Super Power along with the U.S.S.R. and the arms race had begun. Capitalism vs. Communism!!!! The Red Scare led to the first patriotism gone Nazi with Joseph McCarthy and what not, the youths first sign of "Don't Trust Anyone over 30 or Republicans!"
On top of all this, the youth had more free time. Kids weren't put to work as soon as they were able to help families survive, instead, the started hanging out more with their friends, and somewhere along the lines, one kid had really greasy hair and kept his cigarettes rolled up in his sleeve and all the other kids thought it was really cool. Then another kid, who was probably attending the University, thought those kids were stupid, grew a pencil thin moustache, wore a funny hat and banged a bongo and read poetry, other kids followed. Then someone grew their hair long and ... whammy, you have counter-cultures up the ying yang.
Why the Greaser? What was he rebelling against? Were his parents memorized by their newly purchased television to the point The Greaser needed more attention, or was he simply being coddled too much to overcompensate for the parents lack of understanding his more important needs? That's what's happening in "Rebel Without a Cause," and it seems like a trend that caught on and will continue through the rest of life.
I'm going to stop right here because really, it was the 50s, the dawning of the television age when everything changed, and The Greasers are a mere footnote that deserves props for being the first pop counter-culture. The world wouldn't change this drastically again until television shows could start using internet chat rooms into duping pederasts into driving two hours to have relations with a 12 year old and get arrested, or people intentionally doing something real stupid to get their 15 minutes of fame and a couple day time talk show appearances. Ahh the new millenium, it will have to wait for now.