With the start of this new decade, the 2020s will be stepping into the shoes of one of the most culturally relevant decades in American history, the Roaring Twenties. Defined by economic prosperity, consumerism, and social change, the 1920s are beloved by nostalgics everywhere, even though they often pair their flapper dresses with rose-colored glasses.
Although this coming decade may not turn out to have as loud of a roar, the 1920s should not be put on a pedastal and the 2020s should not be critiqued and passd over for ritzier eras. Both decades have their high and low moments, and in many ways, inventions, ideas and movements born in the 1920s have grown and evolved to play substantial roles in current life. Here are six of these areas comparing the 1920s to the upcoming 2020s, but only time will tell if this next decade will also be remembered fondly as a cute costume and the theme for fun parties in years to come.
More than just the flapper dresses that symbolize the 1920s, women’s fashion changed drastically after the first World War to fit the needs of a new kind of woman. After the violence of the war, the pervading feeling among many Americans was to live in the moment and enjoy life, sentiments that became emblematic of the flapper girl. To accommodate both their recent entrance into the workforce and their need to move freely while dancing to increasingly-popular jazz music, women’s clothes became looser and more freeing.
While there may be more futuristic styles in the 2020s, the fashion of the future will look very similar to the fashion of the past. In this past decade, clothing items like bell bottoms from the 70s and chokers from the 90s have become in style again, and this is expected to continue in the 2020s. This trend, however, is rooted in the admirable goal of sustainability. The fashion world has become increasingly more aware of their role in pollution through millions of pounds of clothes thrown away each year, and this problem is expected to be addressed head-on in the 2020s.
Before Brad Pitt, Jennifer Lawrence, and other modern celebrities, there was Charlie Chaplin. The silent movies of the 1920s in which he starred brought the first generation of movie stars. These silent movie stars, however, did not enjoy their fame for long after the first “talkie” premiered in 1927. Also during the twenties, Hollywood became the movie capital of America.
Coming into the 2020s, cinema has recently enjoyed high and lows. In 2019, Avengers: Endgame became the highest grossing film, earning $2.796 billion. Recent movies have utilized high-tech special effects to create extremely-lifelike animals in The Jungle Book and resurrect the deceased Carrie Fisher in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Technology may also spell trouble for the traditional moviegoing experience. With streaming giants like Netflix and Amazon creating their own movie content, some worry that people will no longer drive to a theater to see a movie they could watch on their iPhone screen.
Before the 1920s, automobiles were extremely expensive and unattainable for the average American. With the help of Henry Ford’s assembly line, cars became much more affordable. After the federal government expanded the roads system and created federal highways in 1925, Americans became more mobile than ever before.
This wave of personal vehicles which started in the 1920s has resulted in over 90% of households in America owning a car. The cars of the 2020s, however, will look much different than Ford’s Model T. Electric cars from traditional car manufacturers and new brands like Tesla have surged onto the scene and are expected to make up 23% of new vehicles sold globally by 2025. Fully automated cars may not be in the near future, but 70% of new cars will have self-driving features by 2030.
Women of the 2020s owe a huge thank you to the courageous women of the 1920s who successfully fought for the right to vote, resulting in the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920. Although many women remained in the traditional role of housewife during the decade, the number of working women increased by 25% as a result of World War I. The flapper became the image of the “New Woman” who enjoyed more freedom and individuality than ever before.
Despite obtaining many more freedoms in between these two decades, women in the 2020s are still addressing issues like sexual harassment and the wage gap that have persisted since the 1920s. Recently, the #MeToo movement which called out many powerful men for sexual misconduct has made the issue of harassment more public and hopefully intolerable in the future. Women in the 2020s will move closer towards full gender equity.
Food in the 1920s was revolutionized by Clarence Birdseye who, in 1924, invented the quick freezing method used to store food frozen for long periods of time. At the same time, the U.S. underwent a period of Prohibition which imposed a ban on the sale of alcoholic beverages. Dallas plays a role in the history of food during the 1920s as the birthplace of the first drive-in restaurant.
Although those drive-ins and the subsequent drive-thrus seemed wonderful at the time, fast food has contributed to the growing problem of obesity in the U.S. which will continue into the 2020s. The new decade will not only look into human heath but the health of the planet. To mitigate the large environmental footprint of meat production, plant-based alternatives are becoming more popular and more mainstream in the 2020s.
The 1920s were a monumental age in sports history. After the radio became common in most households, fans did not have to travel to a stadium to hear play-by-play descriptions of a game. Because of increased leisure time and money, the playing and watching of sports became more popular, leading to the rise of star athletes like Babe Ruth. College football also boomed in popularity as WWI soldiers returned to play for their college teams and serve as a fun diversion from the stresses of wartime.
Although football has surpassed baseball as America’s most popular sport, traditional professional sports will still be loved and watched, even if games are streamed on phones instead of watched on televisions. The sports of the future, however, may be entirely digital as eSports grows in popularity. 500 million people are predicted to be watching games like Fortnite, League of Legends, and Call of Duty by 2021. A collegiate eSports league already exists, and in the 2020s, there may be formalized professional leagues that new fans can root for.