Manhood was shaken to its core during the Great Depression. Never before has an era had such an altering impact on the way we perceive masculinity. This is best portrayed in the popular culture of the day that demonstrated conflicting views of men at the time. This division of what masculinity is developed directly from the cynicism, escapism, and the traditional view of what the American man should be.
Popular Culture depicts a media response to what is happening in society at the time. During the Depression early on, Pop Culture tries to force the traditional American way of living and perspective of manhood despite the growing change in sentiment. This traditional view on pre-depression American masculinity has the man as the bread-winner and protector of the family unit . This customary view of masculinity was pushed by men like Henry Ford. Ford used his Sociology Department to control his employees to what he thought the proper American Father, employee and man should be. Henry Ford was quick fire any employee that had emotional, drinking or gambling problems . Carrying into the beginning of the Great Depression, the media still tried to promote this age-old vision of what the proper man should be. In movies like, King Vidor’s The Crowd, James Murray plays a man who is stuck in an environment where he is asked by society to be just another man “working behind the endless desks manned by faceless clerks.”
By the mid 1930’s the average American man felt the growing confrontation with between the traditional American man and the lack of means to achieve it. It has often been argued that men's roles in society have to be artificially created and so are fragile and in constant danger. "It is impossible to strip [the woman's] life of meaning as completely as the life of a man can be stripped," anthropologist Margaret Mead wrote in 1932 . For many men, the Great Depression went a long way toward stripping their lives of... [continues]
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