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American Mass Culture

In: Historical Events

Submitted By dam3391
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Pages 6
Assignment 2
The American mass culture was primarily dominated by movies, radio and television. As technology advanced we saw a decline in one of the above categories and an explosion in the other. As they replaced each other in the role of providing americans entertainment, each left behind a legacy that is important to the history of America. In the early 1940's radio was considered vital to the every day life of an American. The radio provided entertainment as well as news to the broad audience that listened. Due to the inexpensive nature of the radio, it quickly became a very popular and common thing for people to have and use. While the radio is commonly known for broadcasting news and music, it also broadcasted shows that resembled soap operas. This shows would go on everyday at a set time frame and would engage the listener and cause them to imagine the scene that was acted over the radio. Some of the more popular radio broadcasts such as Abbott and Costello eventually transitioned to the television when it went mainstream. (Cross and Szostak 263) For the government, the radio in the 1940's was an outlet for propaganda. Countless advertisements where broadcasted about the war. Since the radio had a good deal of the population listening, it allowed for government to make mass speeches to people and for those people to receive it in almost real time. Radio in prime had successfully grabbed the attention of the American Mass Culture and allowed for our culture to grow at a rapid pace.(Cross and Szostak 266) Just like the radio played a major influence on the American mass culture, the creation of film and movies played just as an important part. While originally Thomas Edison saw no use for his invention of a motion picture photographer. The creation of it was vital to the American culture. Movies and film allowed people to enjoy visual stimulation and entertainment all from the comfort of a seat. It allowed people to see parts of the world and topics that where wildly talked about in person, and gave them a better understanding of the world and things around them(Cross and Szostak 258) Film created an activity where one could now see animated movies such as Fantasia or Dumbo. This allowed for the culture to expand to knew heights, and gave insight to other cultures around the world. The government played a large role in the growth of film and its impact on the american society because of one major reason; war. In the governments mind, film was vital in spreading propaganda because of its ability to give the person a visual stimulation of the enemy and what "crimes" they are committing. It allowed for the average american to see just what their country is fighting for, and to see what the people they are fighting against look like. (Cross and Szostak 260) While eventually the use of film for personal entertainment and news lessened, it still was an important part of American history. To this day, American culture still is deeply rooted in viewing films in theaters, not because of the lack of entertainment at home, but because of the excitement that the big screen and stadium seating brings to an individual. Just like radio and film played a vital role in the development of american culture, television played a just as important if not the most important part. Television revolutionized the way Americans obtained information, entertained themselves and decorated their houses. With the creation of the affordable television, we saw a majority of costumers purchasing products on credit. While the concept of credit buying was flawed, we also had to note the importance of this concept. Since televisions where relatively large in size at the time, we saw a drastic change in the decor of the family room. Rooms where now often set up with the primarily focus being the television. (Cross and Szostak 266) In fact, some of the most famous pictures of quote on quote family time depicted a family sitting in a couch watching the news on a tiny black and white television. Visual entertainment could now be obtained without ever having to leave the house. Television allowed for the first time, a broadcast of speeches of presidents and congressmen. Americans could now get a real time view of the war at hand, and see almost in person the difficult situations our soldiers are faced with. Television changed the way people lived. It produced a means of entertainment like no other. Essentially it built upon the idea of film and delivered it to every household. (Cross and Szostak 268) Radio, television and film all changed the way people went about their daily life. No longer did one have to rely upon newspapers and magazines for news and information. American mass culture embraced all three, and this in return allowed for the growth of our culture in ways that where never before thought possible. With the creation of these technologies our country became more united, and thus become more cultured. Our idea of entertainment changed drastically and we now had numerous ways of obtaining information at a much faster rate then before.

2. The book "The Bronx is Burning" by Jonathan Mahler uses baseball to depict the cultural changes of New York City during the 1970's. Mahler uses the owners, managers and players of baseball to depict the changes in wealth and race tension during this time period. Mahler parallels baseball to this cultural change to give the reader a clear and more precise understand of the importance of baseball, and the resemblance of baseball to the changing times. When comparing Baseball to the political aspect of New York City, one must first start with the mayors and owners of the team. Mahler compares George Steinbrenner to the position of mayor and relates his management of the Yankees to that of the current mayor Beame. The Yankees during this time period had a very rocky few seasons and this directly mirrored the steady decline of New York City. As time progressed the Mayor became more distraught and eventually had lost control of his city. The city was declining and while the mayor was doing what he could to salvage and rebuild, there where too many issues to be overcome. The race tensions between players on the Yankees directly mirrored the race tensions that was growing between the citizens of NYC. The signing of Reggie Jackson brought both anger and gratitude to the city. Mahler depicts Jackson's career on the Yankees as one of hardship and trouble. Martin the then manager of the Yankees would often pick on Jackson and blame him for the slump that the Yankees so often found themselves in. This parallels the changing culture of NYC by showing how people where quick to blame another person for problems that they faced. Racial tensions grew as the crime rate in NYC increased. (Mahler) Mahler uses the Son of Sam murders to directly tie into the changing culture of this time. While the murders took place over the time span of a couple of years, it was evident that NYC was changing. Seeing as to this murderer couldn't be stopped or caught, Mahler used this to parallel with the fact that the Yankees couldn't avoid large slumps. When a blackout occurred in NYC it caused for the highest rate of looting every seen by the city .(Mahler) New York was at this point no longer a point of interest to many companies because of this high crime rate, and many companies moved to either California or another state. With this, the city became relatively poor, no longer was it the money maker that it used to be. The expenses that went into the city gave little improvement to the worsening conditions that it faced. This can be seen to resemble the millions of dollars in contracts signed to make the yankees the best in the world, while in reality only appearing to make them the most expensive team in the world. (Mahler )

Every aspect of baseball can be compared to the cultural changes in America. The team it self represented the distraught citizens the managers, the corrupt or poor government and each team as a separate city with its own unique problems. Mahler follows the seasons of the Yankees to parallel the ideas of baseball to our culture and does so in a unique manner. The history of Yankee's baseball at this time can clearly represent the race tensions, political change and poverty among the city.

Works Cited

Cross, Szostak, First. Technology and American Society A History. 2nd. Saddle River, New Jersey, 2005. 250-270. Print.

Mahler, Jonathan. Ladies and Gentlemen, the Bronx Is Burning: 1977, Baseball, Politics, and the Battle for the Soul of a City. Picador USA, 2006. Print.

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