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FIGURE 24.1 The il lustrations f or F. Scott Fitzg erald’sTales o f the Jazz Ag e, drawn b y John Held, Jr ., epit omiz ed thecarefree flapper er a of the 1920s .
INTR ODUC TIONCHAP TER OUTLINE24.1 Prosperity and the P roduction o f Popular Ent ertainment24.2 Transformation and Backlash24.3 A Ne w Gener ation24.4 Republican Asc endancy: P olitics in the 1920s
Following the hardships o f the imme diate p ostwar era, the Unite d Sta tes emb arked up on oneof the mos t prosp erous dec ades in his tory. Mas s pro duction , esp ecially o f the a utomobile , incre ased mobilityand f ostere d new indus tries . Unemplo yment plummete d as busines ses grew to meet this incre ased demand .
Cities c ontinue d to gro w and , according to the 1920 c ensus , a majority o f the p opula tion liv ed in urb an are as o ftwenty -five hundre d or more residents .
Jazz music , mo vies , speakeasies , and new danc es domina ted the urb an ev ening sc ene. Recent immigrantsfrom southern and e astern Europ e, man y of them C atholic , now particip ated in the p olitic al system . Thischalleng ed rural P rotes tant fundamentalism , even as quota la ws sought to limit new immigra tion p atterns .
The K u Klux Klan rose to gre ater p ower, as the y protes ted not only the changing role o f Afric an Americ ans butalso the gro wing p opula tion o f immigrant , Catholic , and J ewish Americ ans.
This mixture o f social, politic al, economic , and cultural chang e and c onflict g ave the dec ade the nickname the24The Jazz Age: R edefining theNation, 1919 -1929“Roaring Tw enties” or the “ Jazz Ag e.” The a bove illus tration ( Figure 24.1 ), which grac ed the c over o f F. ScottFitzgerald ’sTales o f the J azz Ag e, emb odies the p opular view o f the 1920s as a nons top p arty, replete withdancing , music , flapp ers, and illeg al drinking .
24.1 Prosperity and the Pr oduction of P opular EntertainmentLEARNING OBJEC TIVESBy the end o f this section, y ou wil l be able t o:
•Discus s the r ole o f mo vies in the e volution o f American cul ture•Explain the impact o f radio on nationalization and homog enization•Anal yze the w ays in which the aut omobile , especial ly the Model T , transformed American lif eFIGURE 24.2In the 1920s , prosp erity manif ested itself in man y forms , mos t nota bly in adv ancements in enter tainment and
technolog y tha t led to new p atterns o f leisure and c onsumption . Mo vies and sp orts became incre asinglypopular and buying on cre dit or “ carrying ” the debt allo wed for the sale o f more c onsumer g oods and putautomobiles within re ach o f average Americ ans. Advertising b ecame a c entral ins titution in this newconsumer ec onom y, and c ommercial radio and ma gazines turne d athletes and actors into na tional ic ons.
MO VIESThe incre ased prosp erity o f the 1920s g ave man y Americ ans more disp osable inc ome to sp end onenter tainment . As the p opularity o f “mo ving pictures” grew in the e arly p art of the dec ade, “mo vie p alac es,”capable o f seating thousands , sprang up in major cities . A tick et for a double f eature and a liv e sho w costtwenty -five cents; f or a quar ter, Americ ans c ould esc ape from their problems and lose themselv es in another
era or w orld . People o f all a ges a ttende d the mo vies with far more regularity than to day, often g oing more thanonce per w eek. By the end o f the dec ade, weekly mo vie a ttendanc e swelled to ninety million p eople .
The silent mo vies o f the e arly 1920s g ave rise to the firs t genera tion o f mo vie s tars . Rudolph V alentino , thelothario with the b edroom e yes, and Clara Bo w, the “It Girl ” with se x app eal, fille d the ima gina tion o f millionsof Americ an mo vieg oers. Ho wever, no s tar c apture d the a ttention o f the Americ an viewing public more thanCharlie Chaplin . This sad-e yed tramp with a mous tache , baggy pants , and a c ane w as the top b ox officeattraction o f his time ( Figure 24.3 ).638 24 • The Jazz Ag e: R edefining the Na tion, 1919-1929
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FIGURE 24.3 Charlie Chaplin ’s nickname “ T