Monday, 21 December 2015

History of Hollywood

Established in 1853, Hollywood was originally a single adobe hut on land outside Los Angeles, CA. Through successfully growing crops, by 1870 Hollywood was a successful agricultural community.

The name Hollywood came from Henderson Wilcox and his wife Daeida who moved to Los Angeles in the 1880's. Daeida met a woman on a train who described how her home was named after the Dutch settlement of Hollywood. Liking the name, Daeida named their new ranch 'Hollywood'.

By the early 1900's filmmakers began moving to Los Angeles to avoid lawsuits from Thomas Edison's Motion Picture Patents Company in New Jersey. Since most patents were owned by Edison, many filmmakers were often sued to stop their productions. Los Angeles provided a ideal filming location, that was close enough to Mexico that filmmakers could escape should they be sued by Edison.

Without interference from Edison, Los Angeles became increasingly popular and attracted many more filmmakers, who eventually moved into the neighbouring area of Hollywood. Today Hollywoods filmmaking industry accounts for approximately 3.2% of U.S GDP, with a revenue of $504 Billion annually.

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

The Salem Witch Trials

The Salem Witch Trails which took place during 1692, in the colony of Salem, Massachusetts is a bleak time in American history. They were a number of trials in which people (mostly women) were accused of witchcraft and therefore being in league with the Devil.

These absurd accusations show one of many instances in which American society became fragile and essentially weak. The Salem Witch Trails were ‘fuelled by residents’ suspicions’, due to illnesses and a fear of the Native America tribes attacking the colony the citizens created a scapegoat. This shows that there was a clear vulnerability in society at the time, it also gives an insight into how strong and powerful religion was to society at the time and how this eventually fuelled citizens into claiming that the supernatural elements were at work in the colony of Salem. Due to this and the significance in the cruelty of the punishments, which were suppressed onto the people, it makes it a compelling aspect of American history.

Saturday, 12 December 2015

Final Blog Task for Semester 1

Find, post and analyse anything at all you think would add to this module’s examination of the US.

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

'We in America today are nearer to the final triumph over poverty than ever before in the history of any land.' - Herbert Hoover, 1928.

The Great Depression - Belle Glade, Florida
'Buddy,' youngest child of a migrant packinghouse worker from Tennessee, sitting on the only bed for six people, which is rolled out on the ground at night and pushed back during the day.

Contemporary - East Biloxi, Mississippi
Unable to afford rent for an apartment, these day laborers live in abandoned church bus.
When Herbert Hoover ran for President in 1928 he said, 'We in America today are nearer to the final triumph over poverty than ever before in the history of any land.' It was a year later that the Stock Market crash of October 1929 sent Wall Street into panic and wiped out millions of investors. This started the deepest and longest economic downturn in the history of the Western industrialised world: The Great Depression.

The first image shows 'Buddy' a child of a migrant worker, sitting on a bed for six people. His surroundings appear dirty and unclean, and devoid of any home comforts. This would have been a typical situations for many Americans at the time and is a contrast to Hoovers statement just a few years prior.

The second image highlights how many people who are employed still cannot afford housing on minimum wage. The conditions are cramped and despite being of a far higher quality accommodation than that of 'Buddy's', these conditions are far from the standard that many in America enjoy.

Hoover may have predicted the end of poverty in the U.S.A, nearly 90 years later, and with 14.9% of Americans earning below the poverty threshold, his prediction has still got a long way to go before it is achieved.

Depression vs Recession

These two photos illustrate two similar aspects of the 1929 depression and 2008 recession. The top photo shows a large amount of white men queuing for free coffee and donuts. This image show that it was primarily men affected by the mass unemployment. Whereas the second image depicts how people of all ages, races and genders that were affected by the recession, this could perhaps show the change in American society as more people, primarily women, were able to work and therefor were affected when the stock market crashed. However both pictures show how the actions of Wall Street lead to the destruction of a large amount of people's lives as many struggled to feed themselves, let alone their families.

Monday, 7 December 2015

The Great Depression and The Recession

During the Great Depression there was a clear inflation of unemployed people, as wages began to rise, more people were laid off. This in turn led to an increase in competitively between the working people, as they were in need of jobs.

Similar to the Great Depression, the recession saw an increase in unemployment, however there were many more ways in which people could deal with the lack of jobs, compared to the Great Depression.

The two images are very different. The first images of the men at the job centre demonstrates how patriarchal society was. The image only consists of unemployed men searching for work, whereas the image of the protest shows a diverse range of people who have come together to fight their cause. Therefore also showing the significance of community, rather than the competitive nature illustrated in the first. Furthermore, the black and white image only focuses on the employability factor of the Great Depression, which was also the case with many of their protests. However, 'Occupy Wall Street' are focused on the cause of the issue and consequently want to ‘kick the ass of the ruling class’.

Saturday, 5 December 2015

Blog Task for Week 12 *updated*

Find, post and compare two images, one an image of urban America from the Great Depression in the 1930s and the other any image of America from the recent recession (2008 and after). These can be images of poverty/deprivation or images of wealth/consumerism. NB  do NOT post images of rural poverty.

Interesting Links

'In Search of the American Dream', The Atlantic (2007) 

'What Is the American Dream? Dueling Dualities in the American Tradition', The Center for a New American Dream (2011) 

Mission statement, The Center for a New American Dream  

'Rethinking the American Dream', Vanity Fair (2009)  

'The Great Recession', The State of Working America - click on the side links for more info 

'What Caused the Economic Crisis?', Slate (2010) 

'Did the Great Recession Bring Back The 1930s?' NPR (2012) 

Time Magazine Cover, November 24, 2008,16641,20081124,00.html 

'Now & then: Is the Great Recession so different from the Great Depression?', What Went Wrong (2011)