America and the Twentieth Century: Continuity and Change

Table of Content

The end of World War II introduced the “Golden Age”, a time where low unemployment, stable prices, and economic expansion became the new norm. During this time mass culture slowly began to integrate itself into the lives of Americans. New innovations took over the lives of Americans; this included television, movies and radio. The increased financial prosperity gave Americans more leisure time which allowed them to take part in the new technological and entertainment world. Consumer culture arose, and the new way of living gave business enterprises a new way to make money. The new mass culture also allowed for new ideas to be projected into the lives of Americans. Movie and television culture shaped American ideas and lifestyles by mass producing movies about popular beliefs and by carefully creating images of the good life based on endless consumption which Americans would then follow.

By the end of the 1950s about nine of ten Americans owned a television set. Television became more popular than newspapers and soon replaced them as the most common source of information. Now that Americans had more leisure time, they spent most of their day in front of a television screen. With the now growing television popularity shows like Leave it to Beaver and The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet became the dominant television programs. These shows, set in suburban homes, influenced the way Americans lived and spent their money. Americans wanted their lives to be similar to those on television programs, so they bought homes and products that resembled those on television. American lives being influenced by television also allowed businesses to advertise their products to get people to buy them. Television became the most effective advertising medium ever invented. To make them more likable, big corporations sponsored popular programs and people which would raise their sales. Television allowed businesses to make money and influence the way Americans lived.

This essay could be plagiarized. Get your custom essay
“Dirty Pretty Things” Acts of Desperation: The State of Being Desperate
128 writers

ready to help you now

Get original paper

Without paying upfront

With Hollywood now being a national symbol for the modern consumer lifestyle, movie culture became one of the ideal ways to promote new ideas. Many filmmakers used their outlet to create movies about cultural tensions of the era. Movies like Bataan included an ethically balanced platoon with black soldiers fighting alongside white men, even though the army in America had segregated platoons. This positive interpretation of a desegregated army allowed Americans who watched the film to see how normal equality would be, and that racial inequality is not progressive. Some films implemented backwards ideas to continue to convince Americans that they should continue thinking in this certain way. One filmmaker, D.W. Griffith, created a style that dramatized major concerns of the like labor management conflicts, white slavery, prohibition and women’s emancipation. In his popular film The Birth of a Nation, the Klu Klux Klan is portrayed as a positive group instead of being depicted as racist. Griffith tried to influence his viewers into believing that his movie is the way people should be living. Movies had a big influence on shaping the lives of Americans, and the now popular entertainment continued to thrive.

In America today, mass culture is still a big part of everyday life. Movies are still made to strategically influence the viewer in a particular way and television is still used to advertise products for Americans to consume. Businesses have power over American lives which allow them to continue to make money. Projecting perfect lives on a screen where people spent most of their time in front of became the perfect way to get Americans to mass consume and spread different ideas of life at the time. The new technology of mass-produced movie and television greatly shaped the lifestyles and ideas of Americans in the 20th century by creating films, shows and advertisements that would persuade them to think a certain way or buy things to try to better their lives.

Cite this page

America and the Twentieth Century: Continuity and Change. (2022, Nov 25). Retrieved from

Remember! This essay was written by a student

You can get a custom paper by one of our expert writers

Order custom paper Without paying upfront