February 10th 2014
The New Mass Culture (1920’s)
The emergence of the cult of the celebrity and mass information.
Hundreds of thousands of middle class CND’s are buying American magazines by the end of
WWI, and by 1925 for every 1 CND magazine (hereafter mags) that is bought 8 American one
are read. The CND publishing companies are worried that American mags are immoral,
salacious, killing a CND job industry and undermining CND national identity.
By WWI most cities and small centers have several theatres and by the 1920’s there were over
830 commercial cinemas. Theatres asides from showing films were also used to show news
reels, as a sort of precursor to contemporary TV news. Cinema was popular early on with the
poor and recent immigrants as it was inexpensive and it was a useful tool with which to learn
English. The cult of celebrity was a concern as it promoted a flattening of culture across the
continent. Movies were also seen as a moral threat because many American movies
glamourized gangsters, cowboys, guns and ‘loose’ women. Hollywood found a middle ground in
its films as it ‘softened’ films made for CND when an early form of the Canadian Film Board was
created and started sending movies back.
By December of 1922 there were 58 radio broadcasters in CND signaling the start of ‘Radio
Mania’. In 1922 the Oath of Secrecy, which had been put in place in WWI to prevent enemies
from acquiring information regarding CND troops, ended. This created a new radio freedom,
and manufactures started to sell their radios not just to the military but to everybody and put
entertainment on the waves to popularize it. Newspapers advertised on the radio and published
when creation daytime soaps would air, department stores used them to boost sales and
electrical manufactures had a heyday.
Radio was touted as a tool to create a national culture and a national community of listeners,
where CND broadcasters could put forth a CND (English Protestant) ideology and morality. This
i9dea of radio as a national unifier was very appealing as CND was kind of fracturing (Prairies
farmers were angry with central CND QC was angry with Central CND etc.). It also acted a
class leveler and introduced new democratic forms, where it broadcasted bourgeois sensibilities
(English Bourgeois values) to immigrants and the working classes. It was touted as able to end
rural isolation (and keep people on the farms), keep women and children at home (make the
cities less immoral) all while boosting and protecting CND culture.
By 1929 there was direct wiring