The Roaring 20's

Ritvik A., Madison G., Donna D., Sebastian H.

Dance Marathons

  • Couples would dance for hundreds of hours in competition for a monetary prize

  • Opposers of dance marathons included: movie theatres, churches, and women’s groups

  • Promoted as an escaped from work and an opportunity to win cash prizes

  • New dance forms were created and popularized including: the Charleston

  • The dancing was a manifestation of the social light-heartedness of the culture at the time

  • Led to controversy over the traditional vs. modern views of society

  • The contestants were fed twelve times a day which was a powerful incentive for poor people who could not afford to feed themselves to participate

Birth of Mass Culture

Advertising

The growth of advertising was primarily due to the rise of the printing press and increased use of industrial machines. The prominence of mass-manufactured products created a marketplace where more goods were available than ever before. The birth of such a marketplace inspired competition, which in turn, made companies begin advertising campaigns to incentivise the public. These conglomerates changed the announcement of a product from simply just a statement, into modern day advertising, where the goal is to entice and convince consumers that they need the product. The easiest way to do this was to advertise to the mass public; this led to the birth of mass advertising.


Radios

The radio connected a sparsely populated nation. It enforced globalization on a national scale, causing new trends to form. The main appeal of the radio was it’s ability to provide entertainment and content without fail. It connected the nation together and created a place where people regardless of social construct could be informed. Radios were present in almost every location - rural, urban, farms, and ethnic areas. Stations propagated new ideas based on the area they catered to. Ethnic stations allowed for immigrants to be more included in the mass appeal. Radio also spread advertisements to millions, leading to mass consumption of mass produced products.


The Cultural Civil War

The Jazz Age/Harlem Renaissance

The economic downturn and morale of the American people also caused the shift in the music industry from the blues to jazz. Jazz, a product of poor black musicians, and a trend in dancing consumed the country who believed that prosperity would never end. This explosive popularity in the music industry also spurred on the sale of radios.


This time period, between the end of World War I and the Great Depression, was called the Harlem Renaissance. The Harlem Renaissance was characterized by the mass migration to Harlem which became a cultural center for black musicians, writers, and artists. The majority of these talented individuals came from the South during the Great Migration.This movement was more than just an artistic or literary movement - it was a showing of black pride and also help to relax racial stereotypes in young whites. Some of the most famous individuals from this time include: Langston Hughes, Rudolph Fisher, and Duke Ellington. Langston Hughes was a man of many talents: he was a poet, social activist, and one of the earliest innovators of a movement known as jazz poetry. Similarly Fisher was very talented;however, he is most widely remembered for being a writer. His work was published in many black newspapers and was appreciated by many regardless of race. Through these combined elements of black influence, many social barriers and stereotypes were broken as white people realized that other ethnic minorities were just as capable at producing in the arts. The Harlem Renaissance and jazz age contributed to the cultural civil war by expanding the horizons of the arts in America and linking people closer together than ever before through shared music and more importantly, the radio.

The New Woman

The feminist movement was gaining strength and momentum in the roaring twenties. Women, during this time, were able to maintain a more social life and more freedoms before they were married. The most iconic figure for women at this time was the flapper. The flappers were single, young, urban women living in middle class society, most of whom held steady jobs. However, the flappers were different from the standard image of women as they were very active in nightlife of the city even smoked and drank, despite the prohibition laws. Most people identify flappers by their attire, the shockingly short knee length dresses and bobbed haircuts, just further proved that this was a new era for women. The 19th amendment proved to be critical for feminists of the twentieth century. The amendment granted women the right to vote. After so many long years of working towards suffrage, women were finally allowed to participate in the political world. This movement contributed to the cultural civil war because women were able to pursue their own socioeconomic and political goals, not what their father or husband told them to.

The Economic Status

The 1920’s were a time in which automobile, film, radio, and chemical industries skyrocketed thus positively impacting the economy. The increased use of mass production in the creation of new technologies made them more affordable to the middle class. During this time, a class of Americans emerged with surplus money and a desire to spend more, spurring the demand for consumer goods, including the automobile.


Throughout the 1920s, the United States automobile industry began an extensively rapid period of growth. Before the war, cars were a luxury only available to upper class citizens; however, through the use of the assembly line in manufacturing, the increase in productivity and mass-produced vehicles led to automobiles becoming common place throughout the U.S. These changes in production heavily reduced the cost of cars, and as a result the automobile industry's effects spread to many other areas of society such as highway building, motels, service stations and new housing around areas of mass transit. Industries pertaining to automobiles also grew; steel, glass, and petroleum were in high demand, leading to a rise in profitability. In 1920, the United States produced sixty-five percent of the world's oil. State governments began to build roads and highways in rural areas. Gasoline stations were installed all across the country, evidence of the sudden and continued growth of the petroleum industry.


The descent from the Roaring Twenties into the Great Depression was steep. The decline of the economy in urban America began in 1929, when the stock market suddenly crashed, causing billions of dollars in assets to disappear. While the Great Crash only directly affected a small portion of Americans who owned stock, cutbacks in industrial production lead to an economic downturn nationwide.

Final Response

The spread of innovations in communication and technology led to and created a modern connected society, even through the nation’s downturn, by introducing new mass culture, incorporating all members of society, and increasing industrial demand.


The growth of mass culture created a more modernized nation by connection each individual to the mass market. Innovations such as the radio, film, and advertising allowed both companies and individuals to connect to more people than ever before. The radio connected a sparsely populated nation. It enforced globalization on a national scale, causing new trends to form. The main appeal of the radio was it’s ability to provide entertainment and content without fail. Radios were present in almost every location - rural, urban, farms, and ethnic areas. Radio also spread advertisements to millions, leading to mass consumption of mass produced products. The prominence of mass-manufactured products created a marketplace where more goods were available than ever before. These conglomerates changed the announcement of a product from simply just a statement, into modern day advertising, where the goal is to entice and convince consumers that they need the product. The easiest way to do this was to advertise to the mass public; this led to the birth of mass advertising. Mass production and marketing led to the establishment of a mass consumer market - this market was also interested in movies. Film led to the rise of celebrity actors, and eventually the spread of documented visual news. It also spread national trends and propagated ideas and beliefs to all viewers. All of these new forms of communication led to a more diverse nation having more alike beliefs - a mass culture.


The incorporation of all members of the society in popular culture changed the mass culture and its values by introducing new ideas and morals. The introduction of Black humanities in the Harlem Renaissance, expanded the horizons of the arts in America and linked people closer together than ever before. It shocked White Americans with the understanding that blacks could created art or music or literature just as well as they could. Women’s rights allowed for women to be more involved in popular culture than they had been in the past. Women contributed to the cultural movements with new ideals such as the flapper, and also in dance movements.

The introduction of technological advancements during the time period led to a rise in industries which positively impacted the economy. The United States automobile industry began an extensively rapid period of growth in which all related industries skyrocketed. The changes in production methods allowed lower classes to participate in these aspects of society and through the resulted surplus in roads and highways in rural areas, society became interconnected. The descent from the Roaring Twenties into the Great Depression was steep. The decline of the economy in urban America began in 1929, when the stock market suddenly crashed, causing billions of dollars in assets to disappear. While the Great Crash only directly affected a small portion of Americans who owned stock, cutbacks in industrial production lead to an economic downturn nationwide.


During the roaring twenties, the influence of mass culture, emerging social constructs, and economic advancements led to the growth of a modernized society in times of distress.

Bibliography