The Circus of the Cell Phone Mystery

With more than 2 million hits, one YouTube video about Charlie Chaplin’s 1928 silent film, The Circus is generating considerable buzz on the Internet (Hello, trending Twitter topic.) In the video, filmmaker George Clarke analyzes one shot where a woman appears to be holding a cell phone. He delves into the footage, watching it close-up and in slow-motion. Logically this woman is a time-traveler.

Like everyone else who has watched this video, I do not know what this woman is doing. But I also don’t care. It is irrelevant to The Circus and how we should ultimately read the film.

Just because we have the technological capabilities to question what is happening in the scene doesn’t mean we should embrace this sudden hype surrounding this video.

I understand the fascination that comes from wanting to know. We live in a time where we should be able to deduce everything possible because of our technological advances. That is why not knowing what this one woman is doing is frustrating for viewers. How can we possibly not figure something that seems blatantly obvious out?

I’d rather accept that the mystery exists and leave it at that. In a way, this hype belittles The Circus. I prefer to see this movie, an entertaining Charlie Chaplin production, for what it is and not what it may be.

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