11-6 America: 1920s CULTURE – SYNOPSIS

1)“MODERN” – recent or present; developed or ADVANCED:
2)”CULTURE” – a people’s way of life
3)Twenties American culture was noted for being bigger and faster.

4)”Celebrity was mass fame through mass media: films, radio and magazines.
5)Celebrities were people famous for being famous.
6)Why this American love of “celebrity”??? H.L. Mencken famously stated:
“The inferior man must find himself superiors that he may marvel
at his political equality with them.”
7)What was he trying to say? Is celebrity ”worship” an American form of public
entertainment? We love to “build people up” that are somehow “special” so
we can tear them down. Ultimately, they are no better than us.
8)The most famous woman on the planet was Mary Pickford. She was
America’s sweet-heart. The movie actress was a multi-millionaire.
9)Rudolph Valentino was the most famous male actor of the time.
He played the stereotypical “Latin lover”. Women “worshipped” him.
10)When Valentino suddenly died at age 26, over 100,000 people viewed his body.
Women were trampled to death at the viewing of his body. Is this normal?
11)“Celebrities are not people – they are to all but themselves and a few trusted friends,
BRANDS“. Like a Nike “swoosh”, are they just entertainment “PRODUCT”?
Do you agree? Do you feel sorry for them? Why or why not?

Twenties SPORTS
12)Baseball was America’s “National Pastime. “ The greatest 1920s player was
Babe Ruth. Originally a pitcher for the champion Boston Red Sox,
he was sold to the NewYork Yankees.
13)Ruth “revolutionized” the game with the home run. He eventually hit
714 in his career. The previous high was just over 60 by a previous player.
14)In 1927, after hitting 60 home runs, (more than most teams) people asked Ruth why
he was paid way more than the President. He answered, “I had a better year.”
15)Ruth’s on and off-field persona was “larger than life.”
16)In golf, Bobby Jones dominated. His started a golf tournament for all the
best golfers called “The Masters.”
17)Tiger Woods became the first African-American to win The Masters,
hosted at a “country club” that did not allow black membership. (or Jews or Women)
18)The most famous boxer of the time period was Jack Tunney. His fights
became national events.
19)In his prime, he would make over one million per fight, made possible by
radio and better fight promotion.
20)The Jack Dempsey versus Gene Tunney rivalry represented two Americas.
Dempsey represented W-A -S -P and small-town American culture.
21)Tunney represented immigrant(his father was), Irish, Catholic and “big city”
22)The National Football League started in 1920. Professional football did not
become real popular until the 1960s. (with the advent of the “Super Bowl”)
23)College football was the most popular brand of football.

1920s HEROES
24)The “Greatest American Hero” of the 1920s was Charles Lindbergh.
He became famous for flying an airplane solo across the Atlantic.
25)He was an ordinary guy who did an extra-ordinary feat. He was typically American – brave, “modern”(with technology), willing to try something “new”.
He was “modest” and refused to “sell-out” or cash-in on his fame.
26)Lindbergh symbolized to many what was right or good about America.
27)Why did Americans seek “heroes”? The 1920s were a time of great change.
People surmised it was a reaction against the “superficial” and more
“indulgent” times.
28)Americans sought the old virtues (good qualities) –
strength, courage, honest and justice.
29)Were heroes national ROLE-MODELS – someone to “look up” to?
30)Heroes were great individuals who “transcended” a rapidly mass and
uniform society. Yet, they somehow “represented” America as a whole.
31)Did American culture exhibit two contrary desires – conformity (be like
everyone else) and the urge to be totally different (stand out in a crow).

32)The Twenties experienced many “fads”. These are “fashions” or “crazes”
popular for short periods of time. Twenties fads included the popular
dance called “The Charleston”, dance marathons, flag pole sitting,
the mah-jong board game, crossword puzzles, yo-yos and roller derby.
33)Why “Fads”? The need to be “goofy” individuals acting “silly” in an
increasingly serious, dangerous and complex world?

34)Traditionally, the “courting” process took place in the home, where your
parents lived (unfortunately?), often on the front porch.
35)The car changed the “mating ritual”. “Petting” in the backseat became
the new American “pastime.” America’s young were called “Flaming Youth.”
36)”Dates” including driving anywhere – parties, parks, dances. Anywhere …
37)In 1929, a record 9109 cars were mass-produced in one day.
The price for a car was as low as $290.
38)Courtship also changed with popular use of the telephone. It helped to create
“instant intimacy”. (like “social” networking?)
39)Was “modern” courtship “PROGRESS”, making an already “complex” and “tricky” situation (courting) even more complicated, confusing and difficult.

40)Austrian doctor Sigmund Freud developed a psychological system, stating a person’s
subconscious explained people’s behavior.
41)The brain was divided into three parts. The “ego” or “id” was the “animal” instinct
and “primitive” needs part of our psyche. (I’m hungry – give me some food.)
42) The “super ego” was that part of your brain that governed your instincts.
It influenced people to do what was socially “acceptable”.
43)The “subconscious” was what was “underneath” the “conscious” – id and superego.
Freud felt this is what “secretly” explained people’s behavior.
44)Freud felt one could access one’s subconscious thoughts by interpreting
a person’s dreams.
45)Interpreting dreams became a popular game based on a simple (over-simplified?)
principle – everything could ultimately be traced to sex.
Are Americans “obsessed” with sex? Uptight? Tired of hearing about it all the time?

46)The first “Miss America” was held in 1921. the first winner, Margaret Gorman was
16 years old. She had measurements of 30-25-32.
47)The first Miss America was described as “girlish” and “wholesome” looking.
48)The pageant promised, “To take an “ordinary”, good-looking girl and turn
her into a “celebrity”.
49)”Miss America” would come to symbolize and represent American women.
Are beauty pageant winners today a good “representation” of American women?

50)”Tabloids” were cheap newspapers that provided “news” on what many people
were interested in, sensation stories about sex, celebrity gossip, more sex, crime,
more sex, and “weird” stuff.
51)One famous “scandal” concerned “Daddy and Peaches” – a 51 year old millionaire
and his 15 year old wife. Shockingly, the marriage did not work out.
52)Another famous tabloid scandal involved famous comedian-actor Fatty Arbuckle.
It involved the death of a young actress after a “raucous three day of party”.
53)Arbuckle was eventually arrested for the rape and murder Virginia Rappe.
54)In the tabloid news, Arbuckle was convicted in the eyes of the public.
Juries found little evidence that Arbuckle was connected with Rappe’s death.
55)After two public trials ended in mistrial, he was exonerated in a third.
The jury actually gave Arbuckle an apology. Still, Arbuckle’s career was ruined.
56)Another sensational crime involved rich guys Richard and Leopold Loeb, who
killed a young kid because they wanted to commit the perfect crime.
57)In the Loeb trial, both showed no remorse and openly confessed in
great detail to the crime, to authorities and press.
Tabloids – good entertainment, “garbage” not worth worrying about or libelous lies?
58)AMERICAN CULTURE: the good, the bad and the ugly.