Friday, 6 July 2012

Decades 101 - The roaring twenties!

Hello there, my pals and gals! 

This post is going to start another series on this blog! Can I get a HIP HIP HURRAY, please?
This series will be called... Decades 101! As simple as it sounds, I will talk a little bit about each decade, what makes it special, its music, its movies, its fashion, its people, its everything!
Let's start with The Roaring Twenties!

i. Forget your troubles, 'cmon get happy!
The twenties were characterized as an era of great joy. After the Great War, where men and women spent their days either directly or indirectly on the front line of battle, it was time to enjoy life at the fullest. It's no coincidence that the twenties are one of the most depicted decades in media throughout history. The economy had a growth spur never seen before and urbanization reached its climax. Dance clubs had never been that popular, with jazz and foxtrot and the birth of Swing and the Charleston. Prohibition kept alcohol from being sold legally, and, despite frequent bootlegging, there were many, many youngsters who were able to have fun without it. That is something I, as a non-drinking young adult, struggle to find in 2012.

ii. Women are persons!
Silent screen star Louise Brooks
The role of women in society changed drastically in the twenties.
We were introduced in society and the workplace when men went off to war and everything in non-occupied zones were left in the women's hands. After the war was over, we weren't about to give up our rights and freedoms just because the men were back. On the contrary, we wanted to expand them. Women's suffrage was the extensive campaign to provide for members of the female sex the right to vote. Sounds awfully basic for today's mentality, but back then, it was a groundbreaking idea. Some notable suffragettes should be an inspiration for us all: We have Nellie McClung and the Famous Five, in Canada, an amazing group that included the first female judge of North America and the first woman elected to the Legislative Assembly of Alberta.We also have Katharine Houghton-Hepburn, founder with Margaret Sanger of the Planned Parenthood organization, that still acts today toward birth control and women's sexual freedom and sole founder of the Katharine Houghton-Hepburn Fund for Reproductive Rights. Finally, we have Emmeline Pankhurst, by far the biggest suffrage leader in history.
The twenties flapper is a well-known figure: The shorter, more revealing dresses (in comparison to wartime frocks and the Victorian Era), shorter hair, drinking, smoking and dating like there's no tomorrow. Without a care in the world for men's approval.
(In a fairly related note, it is possible to see that women's rights and liberation actually took a turn for the worse in the 40s and 50s. It wasn't until the mid-sixties that we started to get our rights back.)

Silent star Harold Lloyd in Safety Last (1923)
iii. In silence
Movies were an absolute craze for the twenties folks! The so-called Silent Era (from the birth of cinema in 1894 to 1929) consisted of highly visual movies, with plenty of on-screen pantomime, excellent soundtracks and some of the best thespians that ever graced this earth. Thanks to the absence of sound, movies in this pompous era were often accompanied by live piano music. Among the main stars, there was Harold Lloyd, Rudolph Valentino (who never had the chance to be in a spoken picture), the Gish sisters, Clara Bow and Louise Brooks. In 1927, the transition to talkies began, with the innovative first All talkin! All singing! All dancing! picture "The Jazz Singer". Among the stars that survived that transition there is Buster Keaton, Greta Garbo, Charlie Chaplin, Norma Shearer, Lilian Gish and Gloria Swanson.
Movies worth watching to get a feel of that era are: Metropolis (1927), Nosferatu (1922), It (1927), The Son of the Sheik (1926), Pandora's Box (1929) and Wings (1927), the first Academy Award Winner for Best Picture.
Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen's "Singing in the Rain" (1952), Billy Wilder's "Sunset Boulevard" (1950) and Michel Hazanavicius "The Artist" (2010) are glorious, albeit very different one from another, homages to the silent era.

iv. Trying something new
One of my role models, Amelia Earhart, and the Lockheed
Electra 10E
The culture of the twenties was among the richest in the twentieth century. Innovations were all-around. Mass production was an innovation in industrialism: Products finally accessible to the masses. Flying around the world! Women flying around the world! The birth of aviation as we know it started in the mid-twenties. Paris sizzled with the creativity of the likes of Picasso, Modigliani, Hemingway, Sartre, de Beauvoir, and so many others. Edward Munch's expressionism and Salvador Dalí's surrealism took the canvases and are still widely appreciated today as some of the most important art movements in history. Music was in charge of jazz and the charleston.

 To finalize, let's all delight ourselves with this beautiful charleston demonstration by the ever so talented Ginger Rogers:

Have a swell day, everyone!

So long,

No comments:

Post a Comment