1920s Culture American Culture and Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

It is noticeable, however, that despite illustrating the image of 'good life' among American consumers, it seemed that these ads were catered only to white Americans, which are often depicted as belonging to the elite to middle social classes. Further analysis also showed that apart from the under representation of minorities in these ads, white American women were the 'staple' elements contained in an ad. Although some of the ads appropriately use a woman -- that is, usage of a woman to advertise a food product -- there were also instances in some ads, specifically car ads, wherein women seemed to be objectified. Car ads are classic examples of the objectification of women in advertisements, wherein oftentimes, association between the cars advertised and woman depicted are inevitably linked together, creating the impression that a car is a want that needs to be achieved, in the same way that the consumer would want a woman. In these ads, the under representation of minorities and inappropriateness of using female models in the ads were highlighted as their salient features.

Despite the inappropriate representation of females and under representation of minorities in popular print ads in American magazines during the 1920s, they were very much a part of the new mass culture. In fact, all Americans, whatever their gender, race and social class, became part of the new mass culture, as each American contributed to the increased consumerism and materialism, responding to his/her need to consumer a specific product or brand, whether it is a need or just a want.

And because pop culture has advertising and the mass media to promote its products and goods, the new mass culture further widened, while at the same time, new "groupings" emerged, which were also economically-motivated. Products and brands were created and developed to cater to a specific target market. For each socio-economically determined target market (i.e., the elite, middle class or working class), there is a product and brand that satisfies the individual's needs and financial capability to buy this product or brand. Thus, as socio-demographics influence the individual's capability to consumer a product/brand, the products and brands themselves adjust to these differences among consumers, thereby capturing a substantial part, or oftentimes, all parts of the consumer market.

Fusing together the learnings generated from studying the nature of American society and culture during the 1920s, and analyzing print ads published in magazines during this period, it is not surprising, then, that the 1920s marked a radical change within America socially, economically and politically. Economic changes involve the creation and development of new products, technologies and services, promoting economic growth domestically as well as internationally. Social changes are inevitable effects of economic changes in American society. As previously discussed, the proliferation of new products and brands, and corresponding advertising strategies to inform consumers about these new products and brands, altered people's lives. This alteration of people's lives made them more materialistic and product-oriented, as well as influenced by the kind of image and culture promoted by a particular product and/or brand. Lastly, political changes also emerged as a result of these socio-economic changes. Political changes emerged in the form of racial and gender conflicts, wherein a renewed lifestyle allowed people to look more critically into the structure of American society, trying to adopt an almost egalitarian structure in the highly structured and hierarchical nature of American society and culture.

These changes in the socio-economic and political nature of American society had deep repercussions with the kind of society America, and the rest of the world, turned out to be, specifically in the modern period. The 1920s served as a springboard for American society to illustrate the path of the nation towards further development -- as America increasingly became a materialistic culture and eventually became a consumer-oriented society as it moved toward the 20th to 21st centuries.

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