Fascination with high society
Americans were fascinated with all aspects of high or higher society up until a certain point in history. Many stories and books dealt with the subject of "getting into high society." Probably the most famous novel on the subject is "The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald, who also deals with it in his "Tender is the Night" and "The Beautiful and Damned." The theme figures prominently in Theodore Dreiser's greatest novel "An American Tragedy" and in "The Rise of Silas Lapham" by William Dean Howells. A great many short stories featured the pleasures and problems of the rich, including perhaps the majority of those written by F. Scott Fitzgerald and the comical stories of P. G. Wodehouse. Virtually every newspaper in America carried a "Society" section in which the doings of the most important people in the area were chronicled. But one could argue that the American public has lost some interest in the subject and the people. What happened was that the movies came along and stole the spotlight from the old rich and the new rich and from the bourgeoise in general. The movie stars were better looking and more glamorous and led more interesting lives. Coincidentally, talking pictures came along at about the same time as the stock market crash of 1929 and the beginning of the Great Depression. Many little Americans were financially and psychologically devastated by this disaster. They tended to blame their troubles, rightly or wrongly, on the rich businessmen who had been their heroes and idols in the past. Americans did not want to read about the parties and travels of the upper class while they themselves were frightened and struggling for survival. The upper class in America has never recovered its charisma. The same applies to what is left of the aristocracy in Europe, who used to hold such fascination for democratic Americans.