COMPARATIVE READINGS By: Chantel Henderson History 141
CULTURAL CHANGE IN THE 1920S: SOCIAL MORAL CODES CHANGE Especially after World War I, the social moral codes were changing from traditional Victorian values to a looser way of life. Those who were trying to keep the traditional small town values in American society pushed excessive patriotism, moralism and repression. They were able to achieve the Prohibition and immigrant restrictions, but these acts just made people move more away from those old morals and values. The movies in the 1920s were seen as a direct opposite to the old values and those who wanted to leave the old ways enjoyed these movies. Immigrants were attracted to movie culture because it was seen as a better opportunity for minorities, because the film industry was dominated by foreign born people.
CULTURAL CHANGE IN THE 1920S: CECIL B. DEMILLE Cecil B. DeMille was a notorious film maker in the 1920s. His movies demonstrated the transformation in the social codes with themes such as adultery and sexual fantasy. They also had glimpses of nudity in them. The films upset moralists, but mostly because they were so popular with the middle-class. Although the movies were about giving in to urges and going against moral codes, they always ended morally, which is why it was so popular with the middle-class. These ideas in pop-culture were available to a wider audience in DeMille’s films, but did not originate with him. Some of his movies were based on novels or plays that were published or performed before the war. The ending in the those were immoral, instead of his moral endings, and were accepted by the smaller upper-class audiences. For example, his film Old Wives For New was based on the novel written by David Graham Phillips in 1908. In the film, there is temptation and reconciliation, while in the novel, there is adultery and divorce.
CULTURAL CHANGE IN THE 1920S: EUROPEANS IN AMERICAN FILMS Europeans were interesting and new to Americans when it came to movies. They liked their exoticness and daringness to do things that Americans were forbidden to do. To Americans, Europeans = Passion Rudolph Valentino, a young Italian man, was a big European star in American films. American women were attracted to his grace, ease of movement, and dance skills, along with his portrayal of what American actors rarely portrayed, a sexual being. Right after Rudolph Valentino died his unexpected death in 1926, Greta Garbo, a Scandinavian actress, came into play as the next European star in American films. She had an inner intensity that few others even came close to and sprung excitement and emotions in the audience.
CULTURAL CHANGE IN THE 1920S FRANCE WELCOMES THE AFRICAN- AMERICANS During World War I, the American soldiers that went to aid France included both Caucasians and African- Americans. The French had never seen black people before and found them to be interesting. They welcomed them and treated them better than their own country treated them. The French disliked how the Americans segregated the blacks from the whites and actually preferred to have black soldiers with them. They stated that France is a “color blind” country, however they did not treat their own black soldiers, laborers, or colonies in Africa with the same kind of respect and generosity.
CULTURAL CHANGE IN THE 1920S JAZZ IS INTRODUCED TO FRANCE Although it was not completely brand new to France, jazz music became more introduced to French culture during World War I. James Reece Europe, an American Lieutenant, was a central figure in bringing jazz to France. He would travel around with his infantry and military orchestra to play jazz for the troops. Everybody loved it. The French liked and were surprised by the uniqueness of Europe’s band and could not replicate the rhythm. As the popularity for jazz grew, controversy towards it rised. Italy banned jazz dancing in 1926, German musicians protested against it, the archbishop in Paris banned jazz dancing because he found it to be provocative. Some of the French didn’t like it because it was American, others liked it because it was American.
CULTURAL CHANGE IN THE 1920S COMPARISON OF U.S. AND FRANCE The cultural changes in America and France during the 1920s both had influence from sort of media. For America, it was films and for France, it was music and dance. They both were becoming more liberal with their morals and lifestyle. Americans were influenced and interested by Europeans in their films and Europeans were influenced and interested in the new music from the Americans. Both America and Europe had people trying to keep traditional values and criticized the media for what it was promoting.
WORLD WAR II AMERICA’S P.O.V. America was recovering from the depression during the start of the war. President Franklin D. Roosevelt wanted to stay out of the war in Europe and thought that the U.S. should use its influence to create world peace. He also figured that being an ocean apart from the war could keep them out of it. Roosevelt tried to create peace with the enemies, but it failed. After WWI’s awry deal with Britain, Roosevelt was reluctant to lend them money this time around. He decided that he would sell Britain fire arms at a low cost price and would only take cash, but would not grant them their request for war ships because it would leave the U.S. vulnerable. After pleas from Britain for aid, Roosevelt, still wanting to be neutral, created the Lend-Lease bill that took 2 months to pass that would lend Britain funds and goods for the war. He figured that keeping Britain’s defense up would in turn defend the U.S. from entering the war. After pleas to join the war from Britain, Roosevelt did everything he could to stay out of it. Finally, after Pearl Harbor was attacked December 7, 1941, Roosevelt declared war on Japan.
WORLD WAR II BRITAIN’S P.O.V. Britain was also recovering from a depression when WWII was starting out. They were at first watching from the sidelines, but realized that Hitler’s army was making its way to them. They too wanted peace and no one was favorable for rearmament except for Winston Churchill who was not in office at the time. Neville Chamberlain, the prime minister elected in 1937, tried to buy off peace with the Great Powers, but underestimated their strength. After Hitler invaded Czechoslovakia, Chamberlain made a deal in Munich with Hitler that gave him half of Czechoslovakia if he promised to make no more territorial demands and that Britain and Germany would never fight each other again. Hitler took the rest of Czechoslovakia and invaded Poland ignoring the ultimatum. Winston Churchill became prime minister in 1940. He kept Roosevelt updated every 36 hours and then turned to him for aid, even though Britain was still reluctant to trust the U.S. after WWI. He begged Roosevelt for warships and did not want to agree to the 99 year leases on their transatlantic bases in trade for destroyers, but knew he had no choice. Churchill kept having to turn to Roosevelt for aid and complied reluctantly to Roosevelt’s terms. Britain was in desperate need of alliance and begged Roosevelt to join the war. After the Pearl Harbor attack, Churchill was ecstatic to hear that Roosevelt finally joined in.
WORLD WAR II AMERICAN RACISM TOWARDS THE JAPANESE During WWII, the most hatred and racism from the Americans was not towards the Nazis and Hitler, but towards the Japanese. They saw the Japanese as subhuman and as vermin. Political cartoonists would illustrate them as yellow rats, monkeys, and other animals. Before Pearl Harbor, the Americans thought that the Japanese were unskilled pilots and navigators, and unimaginative strategists. They thought that they would never be able to fly the distance needed to reach them. They dehumanized them so much and made the combat into such a hunt that the soldiers were not only not taking any prisoners, but they didn’t discriminate between killing Japanese soldiers and Japanese civilians. The same racism went also toward the Japanese- American immigrants in America.
WORLD WAR II JAPANESE RACISM TOWARDS AMERICANS AND OTHERS The Japanese were just as hateful and racists towards the Americans as the Americans were towards them. In fact, their political cartoons and propaganda was more elevating themselves than degrading a certain race. They saw all other cultures as below them including other Asian cultures. They knew they were still seen as immature, unstable, and unimaginative by western countries even after accomplishing industrialization, so once they became apart of the “Great Powers” they saw everyone else as impure and belittled. The standard negative image of Anglo-Americans were viewed as demons. Demons are considered bad, but they were not low like the vermin that the Americans portrayed the Japanese as. Demons were considered powerful and intelligent in some sort.