Meditations on Misery

In life and in death, just like the rest of us.

In life and in death, just like the rest of us.


It only recently occurred to me that Charlie Chaplin was probably one of Golden Age Hollywood’s many secret trans people (Jean Harlow’s on the list, too). Although you think you can see him in your mind’s eye due to the vast collective consciousness seeping into your brain, it isn’t until you actually watch a movie starring him that you truly notice all of his effete features.

Those penciled on eyebrows and that smooth, fair-skinned face all contribute to a decidedly trans aesthetic. Even his mustache has the quality of being put on by a woman still trying to figure out how to look like a man. And the fact that he starred almost exclusively in silent films is telling of his/her desire to not showcase a voice that could reveal too much.

As a romantic interest in film, too, Chaplin displayed a decidedly asexual vibe. In movies such as City Lights and The Cure. Chaplin as a romantic prospect seems utterly incongruous. His trans qualities are so overt that it’s difficult to take him seriously as a leading man. Then again, it could just be his Englishness, mannerisms and fashion sense that made him so irreconcilable as a man in general. 

© Genna Rivieccio 2014