top of page

Charlie Chaplin: The Importance of Humor and the Human Spirit

All throughout November and December, Story Screen is giving thanks to those cinematic stories that have always been there for us – whether through film, TV or even specific persons (on, behind or in front of the silver screen). These are the works we cannot help but appreciate, the ones that molded us, guided us, and stuck with us through good times and bad. These are the ones that deserve our personal thanks.

Charlie Chaplin touched the depths of my soul in a way that no other artist had ever done. Whenever I need guidance or have doubts about my own artistic process, I look up to the tramp to get answers. His creative responses to poverty, orphan hood, fascism and McCarthyism are incredibly brave, human and open hearted. I consider Chaplin's movies some of the most inspiring achievements of the human spirit.

I believe that the tramp is one of the most beautiful examples of what it means to be human: to love even when everything is against you, to fight violence not with violence, but with a smile, and to stand up for your truth, even when the most powerful forces in the world are trying to silence you. Many people will remember Chaplin as the silent movie star who's first words on the screen are one of the most powerful speeches ever, during the last scene of The Great Dictator (1941). But for me, Chaplin's parenting example in my favorite movie of all time, The Kid (1921), strikes me far closer to home. His willingness to adopt an orphan and give him all of the love and care he could have, while showing him the example of how to survive in an unjust world, is just as courageous an example as it is to fight fascism. As a parent, my role model is Chaplin in The Kid.

I believe that Chaplin's contributions to humanity are as beneficial as the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi. I often ask myself, who influenced the world more - Martin Luther King or Charlie Chaplin? You can measure the achievements of MLK in a very practical way. But how can one tell the influence of a Clown? How can we measure what hope Chaplin seeded in millions of people's hearts, or how would they have endured the hardships of the Great Depression without having the tramp to identify with, love and laugh with? How can we measure the influence Chaplin has had on generations of comedians who provide us with hope and ease during our most difficult moments? We research politics, history and science, but we have very few tools to measure how important humor is to the survival and success of the human race.

In the midst of the McCarthy era, the United States of America had chosen to deport Charlie Chaplin. Let that sink in for a moment - the strongest empire in history, whose core value is freedom, was so afraid of a little tramp that wore rags and walked with a cane. Very few artists ever exposed the emperor's new clothes in such a way. I'd like to believe that we all have this power, and that if we speak enough truth to power, we too might get deported from the land of the mediocre to the holy land of answering (with a smile) the only question that is worth asking - why are we here?


Ori Alon

An asshole who thinks too highly of himself. He often writes stupid things on Facebook and interacts with people who he doesn't know in a disrespectful way.




bottom of page