In Part One of this lesson, students considered how geography affected and enabled the rapid development of urban Los Angeles and its entertainment industry in the first half of the 20th century. Part Two of this lesson picks up in the 1950s, as Rock and Roll begins a takeover of American popular culture through radios, jukeboxes, and, increasingly, televisions, and encourages students to consider how the image culture of Los Angeles might have also impacted the sound of the city’s music.
During this period the lure of Los Angeles seems only to have become stronger, and the city’s population continued to swell, growing from 4 million in 1950 to 6 million in 1960, and surpassing 7 million in the 1970s, the decade investigated in depth here. Building on the discussion of Rock and gender begun in the Homework Reading from Part One, students will view clips from Sonic Highways and explore how the celebrity “star” identity and visual culture that came to overlap in Los Angeles may have helped Joan Jett and The Runaways transition from local “Glitter Kids” to an internationally known all-female Rock band in the 1970s. The Extension Activity invites students to compare the language used to discuss The Runaways with a current female band of their choice.