‘Distracted boyfriend’ was a popular meme format a few months ago, or for all the Extremely Online folk, approximately 2,000 internet-years ago. It features a boyfriend and girlfriend hand-in-hand, with the man looking back with interest at another woman, the original woman observing in shock and disgust. Memers perused the format to highlight giving unnecessary attention to something new: forgoing the boys for a cold one, or a strong, stable career and housing situation for avocado toast.
We previously tracked down the Barcelona-based stock photographer whose image reigned supreme on Twitter for 2.5 seconds, but apparently this tableaux wasn’t as new and innovative as first thought. As Gizmodo reports, the original scene (titled “Disloyal Man Walking With His Girlfriend and Looking Amazed at Another Seductive Girl”) mirrors one first played out by Charlie Chaplin almost a century ago.
Peter Goldberg, a film writer and Twitter person, posted the lookalike image on Twitter. The image above comes from Charlie Chaplin’s short film Pay Day, originally made in 1922. It sees Chaplin in a classic role, down on his luck and unable to bring dollar home. This scene in question sees his wife follow him to see where the money is going, while Chaplin, not knowing his wife is there, checks out another woman. Since then, it’s become a little meme format in itself.
However, as recent EU law proposals have threatened, meme-ing as we know it might come to a complete end. A proposed change to EU copyright law, in the form of Article 13, mean internet platforms and social networks would be totally responsible for filtering user-generated content, like text, video, and memes. It could affect free speech, and internet culture.