Pop Culture is the study of music, movies, fads, and major social events that shape the way a nation functions. America's pop culture basically started in the 1920's. The Roaring Twenties were also called "The Lost Generation". This phrase was coined by Gertrude Stein, a very popular author of the time.
The Twenties were the beginning of movies as we know them. At the beginning of the decade, the films were still silent(such as The Birth of a Nation), but as the years went on, they turned to "talkies", films with sound. The first of these "talkies" was "The Jazz Singer". Some of the movie stars of the time were Clara Bowe, Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, and Lillian Gish, from my own home town. Most of the popular actors and actresses of the silent films didn't make the transition to "talkies" very well because of accents or speech impairments.
The popular type of music was jazz. That is one of the reasons the Twenties are also known as "The Jazz Age". Some of the popular jazz musicians of the time were Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton, Bessie Smith, and Ma Rainie. George Gershwin was a popular composer of the times who wrote "Rhapsody in Blue".
One of the major political events of the Twenties was the Teapot Dome Scandal. This occured when the Secretary of the Interior, Albert Fall, sold the Navy's oil to private companies in return for kickbacks from them. This was done under the Harding Administration.
This was also a very restless time for people. Organized crime became very popular. This was probably because of the 18th Amendment which prohibited Alcohol. Because of this, people were almost driven to drink, just because they weren't allowed to. This led to the rise of the major crime lords such as Al Capone. Capone was pursued by one of the "Untouchables", Elliot Ness, who finally got him for tax evasion, although Capone had committed many murders.
People were also very cautious of immigrants. They were worried their jobs would be taken. This led to great deliberations over the trial of Sacco and Vanzetti, two Italian immigrants who were accused, tried, and electrocuted for murder. To this day, it is not known if they were the true perpetrators, or just framed because they were immigrants. The Red Scare, people's fear of the possibility of Communism spreading to the US, also made people untrusting of not only immigrants, but also of their own people.
The Ku Klux Klan also made a resurgance in the Twenties. Because of all of the unrest going on, it seemed a perfect time for them to act. They recruited four to six million new members in the Twenties alone. Their hatred grew to include Jews, Catholics, and foreigners in general, not to mention the African Americans. They also dominated the governments of at least seven of the Southern states.
Evolution was also in question at the time. A very famous coutr case, the Scopes Monkey Trial, was fought. It was a Tennessee teacher, John Scopes, who was teaching evolution in his classroom, versus the people who believed in Creationism.
Some of the fads of the Twenties were flag-pole sitting, dances(such as the jitterbug, fox trot, etc.), flappers, jazz music, crossword puzzles, the bob, Mah-Jonge, and Egyptian things. The most famous flag-pole sitter was probably Alvin "Shipwreck" Kelly who sat on a flag pole for forty nine days. Flappers were women who had bobs, wore "short" skirts, didn't buckle their shoes, and drank. The bob is the short hair cut for women that was made popular by the flappers. Mah-Jonge was a Chinese game that became very popular in America. Things from Egypt also became very popular because King Tutankhamen's tomb had just been discovered.
Some famous athletes of the time were Babe Ruth, Joe Jackson, Lou Gehrig, Jim Thorpe, Jack Dempsey, Knute Rockne, Red Grange, Gene Tunney, Bill Tilden, Gertrude Ederle, Helen Wills, Bobby Jones, and Johnny Weismuller.
George Herman "the Babe" Ruth was and is perhaps one of the greatest baseball players of all times. He played for the Yankees and was so good that Yankee Stadium became known as "The House that Ruth built." He was a member of the 1927 New York Yankees who were known as Murderer's Row because their awesome lineup is thought to be the best lineup in history.
"Shoeless" Joe Jackson was in the 1919 World Series, playing for the Black Sox. He was involved in the Black Sox Scandal in which eight members of the team threw the World Series. He, however, is now thought to be innocent of that because his average was high and his errors were low throughout the series.
Lou Gehrig played 2, 130 games until he had to quit baseball because of a degenerative nerve disease, now known as Lou Gehrig's Disease. This feat has only been beaten by Cal Ripken. He was known as the "Iron Horse" and also played on Murderer's Row with Babe Ruth.
Jim Thorpe was one of the greatest all around athletes in history. He was a Native American who competed in the Olympics in track and field. He also became a major league baseball player. He helped establish professional football as a national sport and later became the first president of the American Pro Football Association, now known as the NFL.
Jack Dempsey was a heavyweight fighter who was known as the "Manassa Mauler." Because he didn't immediately return to his corner after knocking down apponent Gene Tunney, the ref started counting late. This was known as "the long count." Tunney got back up at nine, but, it is said, that it would have been fourteen if Dempsey would have returned to his corner. Later that match, Tunney won, taking the heavyweight title away from Dempsey.
Knute Rockne was born in Norway and moved to America with his parents at age 5. His nick name was "the Rock". He had an undying loyalty to the athletes he coached. He was the head football coach at Note Dame. He was a very kind and caring man. One of his star athletes was George Gipp, "the Gipper" who, on his death bed, told Knute that whenever the team needed rallied, to tell them to win one for the Gipper. His best team was the "4 horsemen" of the 1924 season. He died in a plane crash.
Red Grange was a football running back who made football a national game. He was nicknmed "the Wheaton Iceman." He was the biggest sports star in the US and had a $100, 000 contract with the bears in 1925, which was alot of money back then. After he retired from playing ball, he became "the Voice of the Bears", a radio and tv announcer, until 1963. After he graduated from the Illinois, his jersey number, 77, was retired.
Bill Tilden was a tennis star that won the US Open from 1920-1925 and in 1929. He was also the first American to win the Wimbeldon. He was known for his powerful forehand and serve. In 1930, he left amateurs to go pro. His nick name was "Big Bill."
Gertrude Ederle was the first woman to swim the English Channel. She accomplished this feat in fourteen hours and thirty-nine minutes in 1926 at the age of 19. It was the world record for thirty five years. At the time she beat the fastest male record by two hours!! She also set twenty-nine US and world records between the years 1921-1925. She was known as "Our Trudy."
Helen Wills was one of the most outstanding tennis players of all times. She won seven US Lawn Tennis Women's Singles Championships and eight Wimbeldon titles. Her nick name was "Little Miss Poker Face" and, from 1927-1932, she won every game she played.
Bobbey Jones was the only golfer to ever win the British Amateur, British Open, US Open, and US Amateur all in one year. He expanded the popularity of golf from just the wealthy, to a game for everybody to play. The money he won from his golfing, he gave to the Red Cross. The achievements he made are now the standards against which current golfers are judged.
Johnny Weismuller won three gold metals in swimming and two golds and one bronzze in water polo in the 1924 and 1928 Olympics. He began training for the 1932 Olympics, but became sidetracked when he became the man we now know as Tarzan.
With the rise in communication, America's popular culture really began to take off during the Twenties. With the spred of radio, movies, and new automobiles, people were drawn closer together.
this one is for the 20's...it's a pretty good one....