One of the most severe and longest-running economic downturns in modern history is the Great Depression. As per historical findings, the period of the Great Depression started in the United States in 1929 and went on lasting almost a decade until the affected economies completely revived.
Scholars explain the period as one of the biggest economic turmoil in History, where unemployment peaked at its highest. One out of four American workers found themselves unemployed. Even after so many years, it is hard to pinpoint the exact cause of the Great Depression. But researchers have their causes and theories to put forward.
Looking into society, there was a crisis with mass migration reshaping the known cultural and social norms. While pre-existing foundations struggled to survive, new ones strengthened and flourished at their best. Talking of Hollywood and the films produced during this time focused on “social conscious” dramas. And how the working class tried their best to find a way through economic turmoil. So overall, it was a period of change.
Causes Of The Great Depression
World War 1 had weakened political coordination among multiple nations, affecting international trade and foreign affairs. The consumer market was unstable, and manufacturers producing the most output became fierce rivals. Life was unpredictable, and people were finding it hard to deal with so many alterations, leading to a series of events that ultimately, according to historians, caused the Great Depression.
The era of 1920 saw the stock market in America undergoing rapid expansion. The stock prices suddenly expanded multiple folds, and people used their disposable income or mortgaged living spaces to invest in stocks. But on October 28th, 1929, things changed. It was a Black Monday, marking the start of the great decline. By November, the stock prices fell by 33 percent, with businesses and consumers getting psychologically shocked.
Moving on to other causes of the Great Depression, the Federal Reserve System, which had to take care of the nation’s (USA) economic reserve, failed to speculate on the upcoming changes.
Social Life And The Great Depression
As mentioned, the Great Depression saw multiple changes in the pre-existing structures, with families migrating to new places for a better life. Economic trouble was consistent among people, leading to political turmoil. Countries like German and Japan saw the rise of military power and dictators like Adolf Hitler and his Nazi regime.
The authoritarian rule of these regimes served as a backdrop for World War 2, exposing the common public to uncertainty for further years. Moving the focus to the social setup of the Great Depression, there was a rapid rise in the crime rate. People were desperate for jobs and often sought theft and forgery to get food for their families and continue making it through daily life.
Also, this time was a black period for the women, with them choosing prostitution to make a daily living, earn money and pay bills. There were more alcoholics than ever, and items had a cheap substitute to fulfill the economically depleting market demand. Products were losing on the quality part. For example, people started smoking cheaper cigarettes in replacement of Cigars.
Hollywood Transitioning Through The Great Depression
Hollywood was undergoing a transition in every way possible during the Great Depression. The makers were all focusing on recognizing the power of the consumer and evaluating their tastes. There were musicals like 42nd Street, Gold Diggers of 1933, and Footlight Parade, addressing the time. Films were now based on realistic visions of attainment and aspiration other than simple idealistic picturization. Actors like Mickey Rooney, Judy Garland, and Fred Astair became the ultimate models of courage, strength, charisma, triumph, and vulnerability. For the Americans, it was like a way out of the harsh reality and gaining some strength they could infuse into daily life.
The period of the Great Depression was long-lasting, bringing multiple changes to the social and political life of regular citizens across Europe, Asia, and America. Overall, it was a great time of turmoil, and people took time to adapt to all the changes.