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Consumer Culture: Describes How Radio, Advertising, Automobiles, And Movies Effected The Consumer Culture Of The 1920's

926 words - 4 pages

Consumer CultureThe Twenties was a time of great social change for America. Woman had been given the right to vote, selling alcoholic beverages was illegal, and agrarian people were moving to the cities. While these social changes were taking place, economic change also began to take hold. Increasingly, men were working in factories--in jobs that required little or no skill. Work was repetitious, boring, and unfulfilling for most Americans, yet because most were experiencing times of prosperity, families had more money. The times were right for another change, a cultural change, and thus began the era of consumer culture that is a staple of America even today.Since one's work could no longer ensure satisfaction or contentment, people began to look for other avenues of gratification outside the workplace. Industry, too, was experiencing the stress of changing times because they had the means to produce many goods, yet the demand was simply not out there for many new products. Advertising became the tool to create the demand American industries needed to sell mass quantities of goods. Paradoxically, advertisers picked up on American's yearning for some sort of relief from the monotony and drudgery of industrial life. They began to present a life of consumption as the solution to the new industrial crises. Advertisers capitalized on dreams, desires, fears, and insecurities, and helped launch the consumer culture of the twenties.Radio also played an important role in launching the consumer culture. It was the medium through which advertising worked its magic. For the first time in history, one person, one ad, or one product could reach every corner of the American landscape. Furthermore, the radio itself was a product Americans began to find indispensable, and also contributed to the hysteria of consumption. It provided a form of entertainment and source of information. The radio became as necessary as food or shelter as its position moved from luxury to necessity. In fact, the radio began to homogenize American's culture because it linked every part of America together through communication. Children and young adults began to emulate their favorite personalities and listen to the same music because what was "hip" was played over the radio waves.Likewise, the movie industry began to contribute to the frenzy of consumption in the twenties. Not only was going to the movies an act of consumption, it also contributed to the creation of a national market and culture. Movie stars became American heroes, and people tried to model their own dress, speech, and style after their favorite star. Movies catered to human desire of sex, luxury, and beauty and, in turn, began to affect traditional American values. For example, women cut their hair short because movie stars did it and short...

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