There’s an old saying that goes, “There’s nothing new under the sun.” And now a screenshot posted on Twitter by an industrious fellow by the name of Peter Goldberg, may very well be proving that old axiom true—at least in the case of memes.
What Goldberg posted was a still from the 1922 film Pay Day starring silent comedic film star Charlie Chaplin along with the words, “I’m very sorry for this, but…”
It didn’t take long for savvy social media fans to recognize Goldberg’s Chaplin find as the OG version of the ‘Distracted Boyfriend’ meme —nearly a century before a professional photographer from Barcelona named Antonio Guillem made a name for himself with the now iconic snap.
Check out the wayback male gawker gaze, Roaring Twenties style for yourself:
I'm very sorry for this, but… pic.twitter.com/iewtkmUmkG
— Peter Goldberg (@peeto_g) June 11, 2018
But something wasn’t quite right…
There, fixed it pic.twitter.com/HYHAqp9aq9
— Tom Ryan (@tomdryan) June 11, 2018
— Lucas Garron (@lgarron) June 11, 2018
Once that was squared away, the revelation quickly got the internet talking:
The 'distracted boyfriend' meme might have been created by Charlie Chaplin nearly 100 years ago pic.twitter.com/gcT577ouEG
— Miguel Angel Garcia (@Miky1975_) June 12, 2018
If a meme had a grandfather, this is the meme.
— Duncan Stuart (@duncan_stuart) June 11, 2018
The OG. Now we have the original source material. This is ground breaking.
— Fen Bogarty (@SlipperyBogarty) June 11, 2018
sorry if this has been done pic.twitter.com/lAFSceiBLj
— salad gravy (@bragool) June 11, 2018
Hah! I recently watched Chaplin’s early stuff and found that the first appearance of the Tramp is a short about him photo-bombing a news broadcast. 100 years ahead of his time.
— Kevin Parry (@kevinbparry) June 11, 2018
Some folks couldn’t believe their eyes…
Is this real? Not photoshopped or anything fancy?
— Geoff williams (@Dferdog1) June 11, 2018
@peeto_g posted a still. I've seen the scene before, it's real. I just did a left-right flip, nothing else, to match the recent meme.
Problematic because Chaplin was famously left-handed and the cars are now parked the wrong way. Ah, well.
— roarde (@rroarde) June 11, 2018
There were other comparisons made, too. Chaplin’s minor rival (Harold Lloyd was his true box office competition), Buster Keaton even got a shout out:
— Holly (@Nivenwashere) June 11, 2018
don't bring buster keaton into this
— chris @ E3 yellin (@captjamestkink) June 11, 2018
— GTOpenguin (@ArtySmokesPS) June 12, 2018
— Angry Exile (@AngryExile) June 11, 2018
— LucidTaco (@ASneakyTaco) June 11, 2018
And some took it as meta as they could:
— Plastic Mohawk (@PlasticMohawk) June 11, 2018
— Torville Redenbotter (@TravBot) June 11, 2018
— Law Turley (@Treacle_A) June 11, 2018
H/T: Twitter, Indy100