Set aside the Big Issues for a moment. You know, stuff like theEconomic Crisis, Election Results, and all the rest of it. Let us,instead, address the concern that many of you may have after readingabout one of the latest bankruptcy filings - that of American Media inBoca Raton, FL.
OMG! What will become of us in grocery stores around the countrywhen The National Enquirer, Star, Sun, and most importantly The WeeklyWorld News, are no longer there for us????
What will happen to us as we stand with our bags of melting frozenpeas, vanilla ice cream soup, and guilty six-pack of Hersey bars,listening to to blip of the checkout scanner? What will we do atcheckout line if we can't scan these august magazines magazines tolearn critical world facts like how a UFO was spotted over New YorkCity's west side, who Bristol Palin's current baby-daddy is, and whatreally happened when Paul the Psychic Octopus was - gulp!- found deadin his tank!
Wow. It really is the end of an era. If sleazy celebrity shots,bizarre-o gossip, news of the weird and can't churn out the printprofits, what can?
But anxious readers, fear not. The online world can fill that void.That's right, just look at the events of last few weeks. No, no, this isnothing as trivial as red states and blue states. No, the really bigstory was that we have actual proof of Time Travel!
Just in case you aren't bouncing around the web like this story hasbeen, let me bring you up to speed. The clip in question has gone viraland you can see it here at YouTube (where else?) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gj3qesTjOE8&feature=player_embedded
This Actual Video is from an extras section on a DVD compilation ofCharlie Chaplin films. One of the extras is outtakes from the 1928premier event for his film, The Circus. The clip in question shows awoman talking on a cell phone.
Yup, that's right, during the 1928 premiere of Chaplin's TheCircus, a stout older woman is seen holding an object to her ear andtalking.
An alert Irish filmmaker claims he spotted the anomaly when he waswatching the DVD and then screened it to more than 100 people who allhad the same reaction: Time Travel!!!!
"It's the only possible explanation" he is quoted as saying.
But not only is this time travel. The stout lady looks so unlady-like that she must really be a woman in drag!
As millions more people with Too Much Time On Their Hands deployedtheir scientific expertise and analyzed the clip, a belief circulatedwidely that not only was this time travel, but the time traveler was aman disguised as sturdy old lady. No lady could really have feet THATlarge, noted one mature and thoughtful post.
After heated debate over how a cell phone could work in 1928without cell towers and what technology could keep an inter-timecommunication channel open, some dissenters began to speculate thathe/she was really using an old style hearing aid and maybe there couldbe an alternative explanation.
This line of speculation generated enough links and traffic to thehearing aid museum that for several days the site and the links (http://www.hearingaidmuseum.com/gallery/Carbon/Siemens/info/siemensa22.htm
) to the site produced only a "usage limits exceeded" error page.
Meanwhile, over at yet another of the ad-supported adolescent mindedblogs Geekologie, time travelling was debunked this way: "Women, bynature, are talkers. And -- given nobody else to talk to, will eventalk to themselves. This woman's probably having a make-believe convowith a shoe or makeup case. BOOM, case closed."
OK ... are we having fun now? Where is WWN's alien baby when you need him?
I did watch the clip and the lady really does look like she is talkingon a cell phone. The human brain is amazing that way. We see somethingand it is automatically put into the context of what we know.
This trait is why one person sees a holy miracle where another sees alogical progression of science. When we take in stimuli, we place it inthe context in which we shape our world.
If you watched this clip in 1971, what would you have seen? A persontalking on a cell phone? I think not! Well, not unless you too are atime traveller ... since the cell phone wasn't invented until 1973. Butyou would have seen something, and that something would quickly havemade sense in the context of your own knowledge space.
in 2010, cell phone use is so ubiquitous that a motion which in any wayresembles it ... becomes it. Well, it becomes it in our mind at least.And then we quickly weave in other "facts" to create a supporting storyfor the evidence. Hence time travel and men in drag!
Mix in a little fast moving media and suddenly ABC, CBS, The WashingtonPost, and all kind of mainstream media who Should Know Better arereporting and/or debunking this buzz.
And so too is the Weekly World News (http://weeklyworldnews.com/?s=time+travel
) which featured it right next to the alert that the Russians are making flying saucers.
Between Bat Boy and sizzling breaking news like time travel, this surely can't be the end of American Media, can it?
A decade or more ago, when people talked about the merging and blendingof media, they meant the form. The then-popular buzzword "mediametamorphosis" meant that our palette would mix, merge, and meld wordsand pictures and video and sound into a some new form.
What no one quite anticipated was that it wasn't just the output thatwould change, but the entire checks and balances system as well. One ofthe reasons American Media is hurting isn't only the shift in powerbetween print and online formats. It is hurting because its niche -aliens, intrusive celebrity news and photos, and fringe gossip - isreported daily by organizations like TMZ which in a few short yearshave acquired a sort of mainstream status and respectability.
The line between "real news" and gossip-and-fabrication growsincreasingly blurred. Opinion ("this is proof of time travel") isreported as fact ("1928 film shows time traveller talking on cellphone") and no one seems the wiser. The filters that once let us enjoyAlien Baby and Bat Boy with a wink seem to be dissolving and before youknow it, people are honestly believing that the Aliens endorsed McCain(yes, that was "reported" in WWN!). If it's in the paper it must be true.
Remember that? We nowlive in a time where "if anyone says it, it must be true." Kinda' makesthe National Enquirer look like quality journalism.
Hmm, maybe that's what the Charlie Chaplin time traveller was doing.He/she was calling in to report that in 1928 the primitives haddiscovered film and the time for intervention to maintain sanity andbalance would be needed about 100 years in the future. Heck, maybehe/she left us a message at the theatre and all we need to do is go toLA and find it.
That's it! Time Traveller Leaves Hidden Message for Future Citizens. Hey, you read it here first! It's online! It must be true.