Media Magazine

About Silence and Disconnectedness

Posted on the 20 December 2011 by Themarioblog @garciainteract

TAKEAWAY: The 2011 silent film, The Artist, is a big hit——perhaps because it removes us from the constant chatter.  In a world of total connectedness, print may be its equivalent.

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Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo star in The Artist/photo courtesy of

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Photo courtesy of


Silent films. Chaplin. Newspapers. Tablets.

What do these things have in common?

Not much if you look at each of these items individually.  However, all of them seem to have come together like children under a piñata for me.

It all started when I saw The Artist, this incredibly entertaining movie where not one word is said, but, oh, the tap dancing and the fantastic acting, more than make up for it.
There are not many films that I can say I would like to see more than once: The Artist I can see a dozen times probably, and still finding something unique in it.  Ok, I hope you go see it.  To hear the critics globally praise it, The Artist’s team may have to practice some “words” to express their gratitude to the Academy when the Oscars are given out soon.

But I am not a film reviewer, and I am not here to extol the virtues of this 2011 French romance which takes place in Hollywood between 1927 and 1932 and focuses on a declining male film star and a rising actress.  Picture parts of Sunset Boulevard with a gender reversal.  Or remember that fantastically fun film, Singing in the Rain (OK, I have seen this one more than 12 times and still like it a lot).  The Artist has the charm of these, but the uniqueness of being a silent movie in a world that is anything but silent.

I am regressing here—-the excitement of The Artist, for sure—-and I want to get to the point: why am I discussing this film in TheMarioBlog?

Fortuitous connections

The New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd wrote about The Artist last week, and her take was all about the value of silence, and how we have lost it, and how this silent film of 2011 silences the chatter and, as she writes, “In the case of The Artist, silence is not only golden, it’s a reminder of how much you can articulate without words. If you take away the language, green screens and 3-D glasses, the feelings—pride, vanity , envy, fear, love—can be more primary and fascinating.

However, the part of the Dowd column that intrigued me——and inspired me to write this blog post—- was where she writes that she:

…loved the clever evocation of a primal fear featured in the many iterations of A Star is Born,” as well as Singing in the Rain,” “Sunset Boulevard and Invasion of the Body Snatchers and All About Eve”...

Dowd asks: Will you get to the top, only to be devoured by the hot new thing?

Same fears in some newsrooms?

Interesting and familiar, I said to myself. Isn’t that a primal fear in many newsrooms today?

During the last six months I have ran into two editors, one in his late 40s, another one a man in his 60s, who admitted that they are print people, and have no desire whatsoever to move into the digital world.

I am a storyteller,” the younger one told me. “But I think my stories will have greater impact in print, and many of my young reporters here still value a byline on page one of the printed newspaper not online or on a tablet. No question about that.

I could not help but draw the analogy of silent and talkies, print and digital.

Along comes Charlie Chaplin unexpectedly

Finally, as I entered my New York City hotel this week, another fortuitous moment of pure serendipity.  On the bookshelf, a copy of Chaplin, by David Robinson, a 1985 , 790-page biography of the little man of whom a Chicago newsman said:

Those big shoes are buttoned with 50 million eyes.

As I have been thinking silent movies, The Artist and the Maureen Dowd column, I put my suitcase down without even opening it, reached for the book and randomly went to page 77 and a passage that read:

Charlie had undoubtedly a flair for pantomime, but in a speaking part he was rather out of it

So may be my two editor friends, with a flair for the story on page one of the printed newspaper, but totally out of it in a world where the finger rules without ever coming in contact with ink or paper.

Just like in 2011, the film The Artist provides a break from the noise and the constant chatter, print may always be there for those who feel “out of it” in that other world of scrolling and swiping.

The 2011 silent film provided us with much needed silence, just like a printed publication provides us with a sense of disconnect.

The Chaplin biography

Chaplin, David Robinson, MacGraw-Hill Book Company, 1985

The Maureen Dowd column

Silence is golden

TheMarioBlog post #917

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