We might have Charlie Chaplin to thank for that 'distracted boyfriend' meme

It looks like the famous silent movie star created the original meme back in 1922 with his film Pay Day.

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Bonnie Burton
Journalist Bonnie Burton writes about movies, TV shows, comics, science and robots. She is the author of the books Live or Die: Survival Hacks, Wizarding World: Movie Magic Amazing Artifacts, The Star Wars Craft Book, Girls Against Girls, Draw Star Wars, Planets in Peril and more! E-mail Bonnie.
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Whenever a new meme goes viral on the internet, it's easy to assume the idea popped up that day. But when it comes to the "distracted boyfriend" meme, we might as well go back in time to the the Roaring Twenties and thank Charlie Chaplin

Remember the 2017 photo-turned-meme of a guy walking with his girlfriend and then turning to leer at a passing woman? His girlfriend looks insulted by his actions.


The "distracted boyfriend" meme.

Google/Screenshot by CNET

Well, it's similar to a scene in a 1922 short movie called Pay Day in which the famous silent movie actor and filmmaker plays a construction worker. 

Chaplin's character tries to hide his paycheck from his wife who wants all the money. 

He manages to keep enough money, after his wife takes her cut, to go out drinking. He returns home in the nick of time to pretend he has just woken up to go to work.

Filmmaker Peter Goldberg originally alerted everyone on Sunday to the idea that Chaplin was to thank for the meme, when he tweeted a screenshot of the scene in the film where Chaplin's character walks alongside his wife while turning to look at another woman walking by.

Of course, others of Twitter had a few things to say about the Chaplin origins of the meme.