The Roaring Twenties It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing... Welcome to the Roaring Twenties Where…. the men are dapper; the women are looser; the hem lines are shorter; the alcohol runs from an underground river; and the guiding drive in life is PLEASURE The Roaring Twenties: also known as The age of the “Muckrakers;” the Jazz Age; the age of “Flappers, Fords, and Fanatics;” and the time when America went “From Riches to Rags.” The Roaring Twenties Were Shaped by…. Postwar disillusionment—despite the fact that Wilson was the peacemaker hero; social mobility of the population from West to East and the resulting “decay” in morals; mass production of many products for the first time, such as: cars, food, and clothing suddenly made everyone “equal” prohibition which left the door open for opportunists of all types. Postwar Disillusionment America’s involvement in the first World War shocked many Americans. For nearly two centuries, America had kept to itself, staying out of the wars that periodically rocked most of Europe, Asia, and Africa. The last large conflict America engaged in was the Civil War (1861-1865) and the majority of Americans had no concept of the realities of war as it was now fought. Postwar Disillusionment (cont’d) World War I brought about a revolution in war. For the first time, war was being waged with rapid-fire machine guns, tanks, heavy artillery, and nerve gas. Unlike the Civil War, WWI was mostly trench warfare. Fatalities from combat were huge but many also died from unsanitary conditions in the trenches which bred diseases like malaria, typhoid, and dysentery. Postwar Disillusionment (cont’d) Many people, particularly those in their 30s, were changed by the nature of war. Men returned from war jonesing on the adrenaline rush of combat; women, having tasted independence, were exploring all the ways they controlled their own lives. But mostly, people were disillusioned with the leaders of their day for sending so many young men to their senseless deaths. Social Mobility The Declaration of Independence of Can you say, yeah 1776 asserted that: all men are created equal and endowed with certain unalienable right… rights among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Social Mobility (cont’d) To achieve these goals, America had engaged in ever Westward expansion, stretching from “sea to shining sea.” This frontier attitude was the driving shape of the United States emphasizing: opportunity, individualism, self-reliance, ambition, and success. The original American dream focused not only on material improvement but also spiritual improvement. Think Little House on the Prairie. Social Mobility (cont’d) The 1920s, however, reversed this trend. Two events helped to turn the migration of the people back to the city. The exhaustion of farm land by poor agricultural planning and the introduction of the assembly line. Many people, who previously would have been farmers, returned to the cities to work for such leaders of industry as Ford and Rockefeller. The American dream, as a result, became not about a better life but about wealth. Social Mobility (cont’d) Also occurring at this time was: a call for women’s suffrage the Harlem Renaissance a shift in the definition of class from lineage to wealth All in all, a large number of changes that threatened to challenge the status quo and the white male’s dominance. Prohibition Passed in 1919, the 18th amendment stated: Section 1. After one year from the ratification of this article the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from the United States and all territory subject to the jurisdiction thereof for beverage purposes is hereby prohibited. Prohibition (cont’d) Rather than protecting America from the evils of alcohol, prohibition actually increased the popularity of alcohol. While illegal to produce and sell, speakeasies, gin mills, and do it yourself stills became common. Drinking actually became an act of rebellion against everyone and everything that the younger generation despised. Prohibition (cont’d) The demand for alcohol allowed the cagey entrepreneur to make a fortune literally over night. Obviously, a profitable market like this was ready for a takeover. Organized crime syndicates moved in on the small time operator and took over his business. It is estimated that over 500 million dollars went from the hands of farmers, brewers, and distributors into the hands of organized crime during prohibition. Prohibition (cont’d) Some well known names and events from the heyday of organized crime. A tommy gun: the preferred weapon (or gat) Al Capone of choice. Might St. Valentine’s Day Massacre Gatsby’s name somehow be connected? Hmmm… Elliot Ness John Dillinger Into this time of chaos and upheaval was introduced a man by the name of Jay Gatsby. Better known as The Great Gatsby Cover designed specifically for Fitzgerald by Francis Cugat. So what was the culture of the 1920s? music and dance fashion architecture sports language and humor Music and Dance Jazz ruled as the music of choice with popular artists such as Duke Ellington, Al Joleson, and Ruth Etting. The Swing was gaining in popularity but the most popular dance by far was the Charleston. Fashion Clothes were designed to mimic the hedonistic pursuit of pleasure. For women, the matronly hour glass figure was passe. Instead, the ideal was the boyish slimness of the flapper. Women cut their hair short into bobs and appeared in dresses that often times reached only their knees. Long strands of pearls that moved freely as the woman danced were also popular. The dress of the 1920s was a direct expression of women’s sexual identity Fashion (cont’d) Men also dramatically changed their appearances from only a few years before. The stylish man dressed in close-cut suits, often brightly colored, or dressed in traditional Oxford clothing. He parted his hair in the middle and slicked it back with brillantine which left it shiny and smelling like perfume. The well-dressed man was also rarely without some sort of affectation like a top hat or cane. Architecture Architecture reflected your status and the excesses of society. Old wealth tended to downplay their money, but new money thought the bigger and more ornate, inside and out, the better. Sports Athletics gained in popularity as an activity and spectator sport. Men and women alike enjoyed participating in tennis, swimming, and golf. These pastimes, of course, were largely enjoyed by the upper classes in Jones--one of the best of his private clubs. The masses were more day into watching than participating. Sports (cont’d) One event, which stood as a symbol of the degradation of moral values in America, was the 1919 World Series. The Chicago White Sox (considered the best team in the league) lost in 8 games to the Cincinnati Reds. Seven players, including Shoeless Joe Jackson, were accused of fixing the world series and were banned from baseball for life. Ever since then, the name “Black Sox” has stuck with the Chicago team. Language and Humor Just like today, the young people of the 1920s had their own language. Many terms actually have become common usage for today. See if you can figure out what these terms mean. Dumb Dora Cake Eater Giggle Water Everything’s Jake Language and Humor (cont’d) Ratings: Let’s see how you did Kiddo. 4 right--You’re too hep Dumb Dora Stupid girl 3 right--still pretty keen Cake Eater Ladies’ man 2 right--bluenose Giggle Water Alcoholic drink 1 right--flat tire Everything’s Jake Everything’s OK Language and Humor (cont’d) And let’s not forget about humor Marriage is an institution. Marriage is love. Love is blind Therefore marriage is an institution of the blind. Language and Humor (cont’d) Even back then there were dumb blond jokes. Did you hear the one about the dumb blond? How dumb was she? She was so dumb she wondered how electric light poles grew in a straight line. So now you got the real McCoy, the nitty- gritty on the 20s. I ain’t telling you no bunk; just the bee’s-knees truth. But before you scram, we got a little bull session to do-- some things to watch for in your reading. So grab some of your bubble water and sit back for the final drag. Things to watch for The symbolism of colors: Red white gold green blue yellow The power and allure of money (both good and bad): Themes: The myths of the American dream Reality vs. illusion Self-discovery Violence and Carelessness Now Scram. Get Outta Here.
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