Society and Culture (Media)

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The social impact of Cinema, 1917-45

  • By 1917 movies were the biggest entertainment media in the USA. 
  • Until the 1920s movies had no sound and silent movies had pianoists with The Jazz Singer of 1927 being the first movie with speech 
  • After the war, movies boomed during the 1920s movie thearters gave the public an entire evening out. In the 1930s most changed their feature movie at least twice a week. By 1941 there were nearly 10.5 million movie threatre seats on seat for every 12.5 people 
  • Movies were reviewed in magazines and in the 1930s there were about 20 fan magazines with readers rising upto 1 million
  • Clara Bown known as the 'It girl' specialised in the flapper role and many young women wanted to dress like her and have the same haircut, even asking hairdresses for her haircut. A few years later, men were asking for the Clarke Gabe cut  
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The social impact of Cinema (Studio System, Influe

  • The studio system 
  • In the 1930s and 1940s about 90% of all films worldwide were made in Hollywood.  They chose what movies were shown where and classfied them them according to their sutiability rating. 
  • The cheapest movies, B movies had a budge of upto $100,000 whereas A - movies had a budget of upto $500,000 to make 
  • The influence of the stars 
  • In 1925 Clara Bow made 15 movies amd Clarke Gable made 8 in the same year.
  • Stars didnt obey studio policy and regularly went to parties and clubs where drinking, taking drugs and sex were a commonplace
  • Big stars could earn a fortune with Shirley Temple earing 5k a week when the average in the 1930s was only $2,000 a year. Stars could also earn money by advertising produts, e.g MGM made a $500,000 deal with Coca Cola that its stars would drink during breaks from filming and during iterviews. 
  • Regulating the movies
  • There were many complaints about the movie industry towards the end of the 1920s and many people said female stars were too scantily dressed and drank and smoked all the time
  • The government produced the Motion Picture Production Code also called the Hays code and from 1930-66 all movies had to conform to the code. 
  • The hays code said that there should be no swearing, no nudity, drug trafficking or a potryal of white slavery
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The social impact of Popular music and Radio

  • Popular music 
  • In the 1920s and 30s some people still listened to old music from before the war, however, jazz was the most popular during the time period
  • Jazz dances such as Charleston and Black Bottom were very sexually suggestive .
  • Many jazz and swing players were black which gave some people racist reasons for not liking it 
  • By 1929.almost 50% of homes had a gramophone and the industry that made the records to play on them were booming. $75 million worth of records was sold in that year. 
  • There were specialist record labels such as 'Race records which provided jazz & blues music by black performers 
  • Radio 
  • In the 1920s and 1930s radio ownership grew rapidly. The first commercial radio station KDKA began broadcasting on 1920. By 1924 there were 600 commercial stations 
  • Radios needed money to keep going so started to advertise with the frist advertisement airing in 1922 in New York
  • In 1926 the first national radio station NBC opened with an American footbal game and after this many radio stations started causing jammed airwaves which led to to the gvenrment passing the Radio Act of 1927 
  • Father Coughlin was a priest who broadcast a series of sermons critising the KKK he had 40 million  listeners.He critised bankers & supported Roosevelt.However, when things went wrong he critisied Rosoevelt which lost him support 
  • Mass production made radios cheaper and hire purchase made them more affordable. Radio brought the world to peoples front room.
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The social impact of television from the 1950s

The 1950s

  • Television was sponsored and had advertisements and programes which created a national culture 
  • Early programmes showed very few black Americans with the first advertisement with a black American bieng in 1963
  • The post war baby boom meant adverts were centralised heavily around the the growing number of children. 
  • Political parties used telveision and bought air time e,g Eisenhower in his 1952 campaign 
  • Television meant that Americans could see their politicians in action and this worked well for Kennedy who was good looking and persusasive but less so for Nixon who was a wasteman

Expansion of television 

  • Television developed rapidly and recording techniques improved so programmes seemed more real which meant people watched more television 
  • Television could also show re-runs of favourite shows, In 1953 80% of television was recorded live by 1960 this was 36%
  • By the 70s news and sport were almost the only programmes shown live
  • Standards on commercial television were criticised in the late 60s by conservative and religious groups who disliked the way they glamourised crime and violence  
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Non commercial television

The 1967 Public Broadcast Act set up the government-funded Corporation for public broadcasting (CPB) which set up the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) in 1969. PBS was a national station and mostly run not for profit with education as their main aim and had a liberal agenda. The biggest success was Seame Street which in the 70s taught chuildren about racial tolerance and sharing as well counting and reading. 

  • More serious documentaries began to be made in the 1960s following the huge audience for the Kennedy-Nixon presidential debates in the 1960s which meant people were informed about major issues
  • In the 1970s real life began to seep into entertainment, for example MASH was a drama series set in the Korean War  and it contributed to the popular feeling against the war 
  • Some series reflected black family life and showed black families in their own homes and leading normal lives. This was better than black people being presented negatively as white people came to see black americans as normal people
  • Political satire became more popular, Rowan and Martins Laugh in was one of the first sketch shows openly to make fun of politicnas. This meant people began to look at politicians in a different light and were less respectful towards them
  • News programmes got more prime time broadcasting and did in-depth analyses. This meant people became more politically aware and more interested in these issues. 
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The influence of broadcast news 1920-80

  • Broadcast news was quick and better way of getting news than newspapers and a voice seemed more authoritative than a newsprint 
  • Radio news played an important part during the Depression as reports of the stockmarket fuelled fears about falling share prices which caused people to panic and sell shares 
  • Roosevelts radio talks helped him to restore confidence and trust in banks 
  • Ed Murrow made his name through WW2 where his team was based in London and reported from the front line.
  • He was the presenter of CBS news series See it now and in 1953 did a story on the red scare and broadcasted a story about a young airman losing his job because of possible family communit sympathese. He also did a whole show on McCarthy exposing him as a bully using film and audio clips. 
  • Through the 60s there was live news coverage of events such as Cuban Missile crisis and the Moon landing and people preffered television news because of pictures. The coverage of the Watergate hearings in the Senate was vital in the change of public opinion about presidency
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The influence of Broadcast news (Shaping opinion)

  • Broadcast news gave its own interprettion what was hapening despite the broadcasting company having final say over what was broadcast. 
  • News reports had anchormen who explained the siutation using maps and were seen as 'teacher figures' and trustworthy. 
  • Walter Cronkite's 1968 critical documentary on Vietnam aired after the 1968 Tet Offensive and was shocking to many people because someone who they trusted was critsising govenrnment
  • Unlike the Korean War, the war in Vietnam had televised report as well as radio reports or newspaper reports with photos.
  • In 1965 CBS news showed marines burning the village of Cam ne ( a village suspected of helping rebels) and the coverage was critical of the impact on South Vietnamese loyalty. 
  • After Vietname broadcast news gave its own interpretation of eents, shapping its presentation of news to fit the interpretation. Many Americans were unaware of the extent to which the news was giving an interpretation
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The Media and Jimmy Carter

  • The media relaionship with Jimmy Carter demonstrates how its story selection could influence public opinion 
  • At first, the media presented Carter in a positive light and Carter responded well. In the  early months of his presidency he had high level of support in the media and with the public (he had a 60 to 70 percent support level in his first months) 
  • However, once it became clear that his adminstration was managing policy making and Congress badly the media withdraw support and the media decided that Carter was incompetent and seized upon events that underlined this 
  • Carters brothers invovlement in various scandals reflected badly on Carter. In 1979 Carter was shown collapsing in a marathon which he even admited costed him his re-election.
  • In the same year whilse fishing carter was attacked by a rabbit which caused the media to mock him 
  • It is interesting to compare the way the media treated these inidents and the way they treated Roosevelts illness as he was never photographed in a wheel chair 
  • When, in 1979 52 US citizens were held hostage in the US embassy in Tehran, Carters inability to deal with the situation also cost him the elecion. Reagan relased them miniutes after he took the presidential oath 
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