In 1929, the booming American economy took a turn for the worst.
During the month of October, the stock market crashed, banks closed, overproduction and loss of sales occurred, and federal reserves failed. These factors dampened the American morale and contributed to The Great Depression. The arts and entertainment of the 1930’s is what saved most people’s sanity from the Great Depression. The arts and entertainment gave people time to not worry about what is going on in the world while they are watching the movies or listening to the radio. More than 60 million Americans watch a movie each week.
The Marx Brothers produced “Animal Crackers”. Walt Disney created an animated movie called “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”. Some of the serious films stared ordinary people and valued small towns like “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”. Dramas portrayed heroes rising up against corruption. In 1939 “The Wizard of Oz” was created and lifted up many Americans spirits. “Gone with the Wind” was created by Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable. The radio gave people information not just entertainment.
There were comedians like Jack Benny giving adventures of superheroes. Daytime dramas like “The Guiding Light” which later became known as soap operas. People could listen to sports like football or the news. People also enjoyed listening to songs that were in movies or musicals, country, or even swing music.
Artist and writers wanted to show people what was going on in life around them. William Faulkner created and used new techniques in his books like “The Sound and the Fury”. John Steinbeck did the best at being able to capture things happening during the Depression. He really wanted people to realize how important friendship and family are in order to survive the Great Depression. In “The Grapes of Wrath” Steinbeck describes the Joad family leaving their farm and traveling to California to leave the Dust Bowl. Children would read comics about superheroes or the comic strips in newspapers. Photographers went around to capture how the Great Depression impacted the lives of many Americans. The TIME magazine introduced Life a weekly photo magazine that was very successful.
Photographers Dorothea Lange and Margaret Bourke-White took photos of the Great Depression. Dorothea took pictures of people in California’s Central Valley. “Migrant Mother” is her most famous work.
She also traveled through the areas destroyed by the Dust Bowl and captured it with her camera. The pictures were put into a book called “An American Exodus”. In 1937, Margaret Bourke-White’s photograph of African American flood victims compared to a white family happily driving a car was in the Life magazine. Thomas Hart Benton and Grant Wood were painters during this time. Their paintings showed American values in the rural areas that were affected by the Great Depression. “American Gothic” is Grant Woods most famous painting today. Neighbors would gather together to play card games, board games, have dances, or just get together and talk.