Social change and popular entertainment

Leisure Time and Consumerism

  • Age of Mass Entertainment: The Roaring Twenties saw the rise of mass entertainment. Increase in consumer spending and leisure time helped to fuel the growth of the entertainment industry.

  • Consumerism: Post-World War I prosperity led to increased spending on consumer goods like cars, radios, and appliances. Advertisements in newspapers, magazines, and on radio further promoted consumerism.

  • Vacations and Travel: Due to better wages and working conditions, more Americans could afford vacations and travel. The automobile industry played a significant role in facilitating this.

Film and Radio

  • Hollywood: This period saw the birth of Hollywood as the global centre of movie production. Silent films and then ‘talkies’ became a popular form of entertainment.

  • Radio Broadcast: Broadcasting became widespread, allowing families to listen to news, music, dramas, and sports events at home.

  • Charlie Chaplin & Clara Bow: Actors like Charlie Chaplin and Clara Bow were iconic figures of this era, representing the dynamism and carefree spirit of the Roaring Twenties.

Music and Dance

  • Jazz Age: The 1920s is often referred to as the Jazz Age. This was a new type of music that originated among African American communities in the South and quickly spread across the country.

  • Dance Marathons & Social Dancing: Social dances like Charleston and the Foxtrot were popular during the 1920s. Dance marathons were also public entertainment events frequently held in this era.

Sports and Celebrity Culture

  • Sports Boom: The popularity of sports increased dramatically, spurred on by professional sports leagues and athletes such as Babe Ruth (baseball) and Red Grange (American football).

  • Celebrity Culture: The popular entertainment industry led to the growing influence of celebrity culture. Movie stars, singers, and athletes all contributed to this new social phenomenon.

Literature and the Harlem Renaissance

  • Flourishing Arts: American literature and arts flourished during the Roaring Twenties with authors like F. Scott Fitzgerald examining the decay of American dream in his works.

  • Harlem Renaissance: This was a cultural, social, and artistic explosion among African American artists in Harlem, New York. It played a crucial role in redefining African American expression and establishing the foundation for future civil rights activism.