While the influence of British magazines in shaping public opinion predates the nineteenth century, it was during the 1800s that mass distribution became possible and an explosion in periodical readership occurred, vastly increasing magazines' opinion-shaping powers. The role of magazines as arbiters of nineteenth-century taste is seen in their depictions of the London theater. The magazines accorded some legitimacy to East End working-class theaters that mirrored the format of the fashionable West End theaters serving middle- and upper-class audiences. However, the magazines also depicted music halls – which competed for patronage with all theaters – as places where crass entertainment corrupted spectators' taste and morals. Finally, they suggested that popular demand for substandard fare created a market unfriendly to higher expressions of dramatic art.