A mechanical nightmare,
The wonderful world of technology,
Napalm, hydrogen bombs, biological warfare,
This is the twentieth century,
But too much aggravation
It's the age of insanity,
What has become of the green pleasant fields of Jerusalem.
The Twentieth Century: A Century that witnessed changes in technology, society, culture and attitudes in more ways and more circumstances than any other century before it. The historian Eric Hobsbawm who labelled it The Age of Extremes considers it "A Short 20th Century" (comprising 77 years between 1914-1991) that really began and ended with the rise and fall of the USSR, while others argue that it began with World War I ("The Seminal Tragedy") and more or less continued into the Turn of the Millennium until 9/11.
The century was characterized by rapid, shocking and sudden changes in governments, society, culture, science and technology. So much of this transformation that the world of the 1990s would feel different to the world of the 1910s. The idea that every decade had to have its own aesthetics was more or less invented in this century, chronicled through photography, motion picture, and television. Art and science came to depend on one another, and the technologies they made led to the rise of cinema (what is called "the art of the 20th century") and popular music which depended on radio, sound-recording equipment, portable media note , and music videos for their commercial viability.
It was the century that saw the greatest advances and gains in society, such as women's rights note ; widespread decolonization, the end of the 19th Century empires, and the rise of a global community of nations; anti-racism as a central pillar of acceptable civilization; the possibility for more people to travel the globe via commercial air transport; great permissiveness with sexuality expressed more freely by all classes than centuries before it; profanity in serious literature such as James Joyce's Ulysses; and towards the end of the century, the acceptance and debate of LGBT rights becoming a public movement. note
Yet despite this, the century was remembered by the two bloodiest world wars, by violent genocides, by brutal famines, the use of chemical weapons, and later city-destroying nuclear weapons; a huge dissonance among developed and undeveloped nations; a situation on overpopulation; great environmental crises and an awareness in pollution and climate change; and the growth and spread of political movements such as fascism, socialism, and democracy that overthrew the old systems, and created governments with varying results.
In a nutshell, with the greater entanglement, flourishing of information, and greater complexities of life and society as a whole the message of the 20th Century was that "the world got better and nobody is happy about it".
Note that while decades technically end in 10 years, there would be a cultural bleed in between decades. Culturally, the century started with the death of Queen Victoria and ended with Y2K or 9/11. Or alternatively, it started and ended with the affair around the Balkans.
The Twentieth Century is divided into decades with each one having it's own cultural identity (though many do overlap with others), which are:
- The Edwardian Era, Also known as the "La Belle Époque"note : (1901 - June 1914, though it may extend until 1919) King Edward VII on the Throne, rich white people, rich economy, high endeavours, ragtime, silent movies, Art Nouveau, elaborate dresses with S-bend corsets, Gibson Girls, suffragettes, Theodore Roosevelt, the Theory of Relativity, Freudian psychology China under new management, Russia and Japan at war, Mexico in flames, the Congo-gate scandals, weird and wacky flying machines, "horseless carriages", motion pictures and other inventions, and the RMS Titanic. Once used as a nostalgic setting until as late as the 1960s.
- World War I: (Summer 1914 - 1919) The war that was supposed to "end all wars", until its sequel came up. Archduke Franz Ferdinand shot, trench warfare, the fall of various empires, map redrawings, rise of ethnic nationalism, independence movements, Red October, unresolved conflicts and loose ends, accompanied by the rise of modern and postmodern art movements note , English war poetry, Beige Prose and Charlie Chaplin.
- The Roaring '20snote : (1919/20 - October 1929, although the decade culturally ended between 1933/35) Bootleg + Flappers + Jazz x Booming Economy = par-tayz. Also with gangsters, the silent films and talkies, radio, Coco Chanel, stylistic and futuristic Cubism, Bauhaus and Arts Decoratifs, Weimar culture note and Soviet Montage, gin tubs, gangsters, and "23 Skidooin' bees knees seeing a man about a dog",
- The Great Depressionnote : (October 1929 - December 1941) Parties were over with a crash and the worst has begun. More gangsters, the dust bowl, the New Deal, the rise of American labour movents. Those Wacky Nazis, Spanish Civil War and Stalin's purges aside, expect for elaborate musical sequences with Busby, and Screwball Comedy soundfilms with Ginger and Fred, raunchy pre-code flicks, gangsters like James Cagney, comedians like The Stooges and The Marxes, and bombshells like Jean Harlow in a sexy satin slip.
- The '40snote : (September 1939 - 1949/50) A turbulent time, a mark of transition. All the while it's swingtime for soldiers with Glamorous Wartime Singers in Technicolor and bebop for badass private eyes with Femme Fatale stunners in noir.
- World War II: (Autumn 1939 - Autumn 1945) Even worse than the crash and its prequel, you have aerial dogfights, Pearl Harbor, Cool Tanks, The Holocaust, atomic bombs, the dawn of the Cold War, violent post-war independence movements, Carmen Miranda and pin-up girls. All in all, the bloodiest decade in the history of mankind.
- The '50snote : (1945/47 - 1961/November 1963) Hot War was over, Cold War has begun, Germany and Korea split in two, nuclear and communist/capitalist fear, the Khrushchev Thaw, 1920s nostalgia, housewives with aprons and elaborate dresses, your standard father, family moments, Baby Boomers, Rock & Roll, greasers with suave pompadours, rebellious teenagers, television, a turbulent Hollywood with Marilyn Monroe on the vents, and a wave of avant-garde foreign directors, and SCIENCE! A rather affectionate, if not parodied, nostalgic setting.
- The 60snote : (1957/63 - 1973/74, although you could say it ended as late as 1976) The Vietnam War, The Space Race, The Kennedys, The Civil Rights Movement, The Prague Spring, The Miniskirts, The Beatles, The British Invasion, The Hippies, The New Hollywood, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, The Space Odyssey, The Graduate, The Psychedelia, The Free Love Sex, The Mindbending Drugs, The Rockin' Roll, man, The Wierdness, The Wonders,... The Articles...
- The '70snote : (1968/69 - 1981/83, some would say it ended as early as 1979 with the Iran Hostage Crisis and the Disco Demotion Night) Disco, disco and more disco, dance because it never dies!!! Also big sideburns, afros, hot mustaches and beards, blockbuster movies, kung fu fighting, disco, polyester, glam rock, roleplaying, the Time Warp, gas crisis, disco, rebellions, revolutions, spiritual discoveries, environmental awareness, lava lamps, Punk, very low necklines, women without bras, Pong, heavy metal, economic malaise and Disco. Also, møøse...note
- The '80snote : (1977/82 - 1991/93) Everything's BIG!!! BIG HAIR, BIG POWER SUITS WITH BIG SHOULDERS, BIG ECONOMY, BIG DEBAUCHERY, BIG POLITICS, BIG MOVIES, BIG PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENTS, BIG TECHNOLOGY, BIG BRICK CELLPHONES, BIG JAPANESE IMPORTS, BIG RETRO CRAZE, BIG NEW MUSIC, BIG MUSICALS, BIG CELEBRITIES, BIG BODYBUILDERS, BIG RUNNING GAGS, BIG!!! Totally a de-fin-IT-elly radically BIG nostalgic setting. And BIG MØØSE... note
- The '90snote : (1989/91 - January 2000 for many, and September 2001 for others - with some even arguing that it didn't really "end" until as late as 2006) The Great Politics Mess-Up, Weast Germany, The New Russia, Cool Britannia, the rise of the EU, The Yugoslav Wars, Bill Clinton, The Internet, Alternative Rock with the fragrance of teen spirit, fresh Hip-Hop "Yo, Vanilla Ice Ice Baby", House Music, teenage angst, upbeat parties and concerts, flannel shirts, loose sagging pants, coffeeshops, Jennifer Aniston's signature haircut, anthropomorphic mascots, The One With The Yellow Mouse, Boy Bands, the Spice Girls, Britney Spears, the Lambada, the Macarena, TV shows and games you grew on this decade and are now a victim of Rule34 internet memes and parodies. note
You know what? Forget it. Off to the Twenty First Century!!! Where there'll be jetpacks, and food pills, and holographic møøse, and...
The editor of this page hired to continue writing this index after the people had been sacked, wish it to be known that they have just been sacked. The edits involving The Twenty First Century will be completed in an entirely different style at great expense and at the last minute.