Popular Culture

Essential Question:  How is the popular culture in the 20's different than the previous decade?
After winning the war, the 1920's were ruled by the youth, and everything about this decade was symbolized an intense felling of rebellion and breaking away from societies boundaries.  Improvements in the automobiles, radio, and airplane all made life easier and more enjoyable for Americans.  Their new gained free time was now spend doing fun things, such as watching sports games or movies.  


  During this time period, there was an explosion of self-expression, and the automobile possibly helped the most.  Also, the automobile helped change life in the 1920's, with the help of Henry Ford, and his mass production and assembly line, which allowed the price to drop from $825 to $360, and soon almost every family in America had at least one Model T in there driveway.  Some positive ways the car affected life, is that it let: people have personal freedom, children escape "oppressed" home life, and women escape home management and be a bigger part of the cultural scene.  It also allowed families to travel further for shopping and entertainment.

Radio and Movies

Radio: During the 1920's, the radio provided a cheap wan convenient way of conveying information and ideas.  this invention did not only bring the nation together, but it brought a whole new way for people to communicate and interact.
Movies: One way movies affected society is that it was a main source, along with the radio, that helped spread Pop Culture very rapidly throughout the decade.  Also, movies played a large role in the temperance movement throughout the 20's, and they were very influential on the American Public.  in the early 20's, they seemed to support prohibition and the temperance cause, but by the end of the decade, they were seen as supportive of the "wet" values in society.


In the 1920's, one of the first ways the airplane was commonly used was in the mail business, and instead of long distance mail taking a few weeks, with the airplane, it only took a few days.  Soon after airplanes were successful in the mail business, a few airplane companies began to offer flights for people, for a high price however, and usually only upper-class people could afford it.  As flights became more common, prices fell, and it almost reached a point where middle-class citizens could afford it.
Lindbergh: After being the first person to successfully fly across the Atlantic Ocean, Charles Lindbergh became very famous in America in the 1920's and 30's.  He relentlessly used his fame to promote commercial aviation throughout the United States.  He also promoted and supported the invention of Aeronautics, which led to the development of many important inventions.


Advertising a product changed from simply announcing the existence of a product in a dull, dry fashion to persuading the public they needed and deserved to own the product.  Advertisers hired movie stars and sports figures to persuade Americans to buy all types of products.  Magazines and newspapers changed from plain investigative articles to new consumerism culture.  Coca-Cola is a good example of a company that succeed from changing the way they advertised.  When first introduced in the 1880's, the product was marketed as a medicine, with claims that it cured headaches, and that it "revived and sustained" a person.  Seeking to build repeat business and brand loyalty, by the 1920's the company emphasized it as a refreshment and "fun food".  

"Golden Age of Sports"

The 1920's was a time when America and the world wanted to put the memory of the Great War behind them and enjoy life.  The War provided an economic boom for Americans, along with the automobile as a means of transportation.  People now had more free time.  With this new free time, people turned their attention to sports.  Baseball was the most popular sport during this time.  Writer Edgar F. Wolfe argued in the 1923 Literary Digest that the urban ballpark was a meeting ground for Americans of all classes and backgrounds.  The people are able to unite in “rooting” for the same ball club, and forget their selfish ends in discussing a subject that holds a common interest for both.  The New York Yankees and Babe Ruth were among the most popular sports teams and figures.  Growth in radio also contributed to the excitement for sports.  



Thinking Like a Historian

Turning Points : The new inventions and improvements like the automobile and radio created rapid growth throughout the United States.  The 1920's popular culture was a huge explosion compared to previous decades.  This was the turning point from Progressivism and Victorian ways to the new modern ways.