Modern Times

After last week’s sociology class, I remembered the film called “Modern Times” which was a famous black-and-white movie starred by Charles Chaplin some decades ago. Chaplin acted as a worker in a factory working on an assembling line in the film. The only thing he should do was to fix nuts on mechanical parts on the conveyer belt. But as the speed of the belt went faster, it was no longer possible for human to finish the work. So, Chaplin failed to finish his work and was finally fired by the factory. After Chaplin got fired, he went on the street and saw a woman wearing a coat. And the buttons on the coat were similar to those nuts on mechanical parts, so Chaplin used his wrench to fix the “nuts” on the woman’s coat. Actually, this kind of phenomena can also be seen nowadays. Since people are getting smarter and lazier, the idea of being efficient has become the most important purpose of everything. It not only can be seen in factories, but also in our daily life. Like what professor told us, “McDonaldlization” was occupying our life. It is indeed very efficient and more importantly, as a fast food chain restaurants company, McDonald won the competition with other old styled fast food chain restaurants by using this “efficient method” of making food. But when we think about the employee of McDonald, we may find them similar to Chaplin in Modern Times, both of them are trained to do easy and simple things as fast as they can. So, if one day the need of being efficient goes beyond the ability of human, what should those companies do?

In fact, being efficient has nothing to blame. The point is what we need is not spending our life on an assembling line, we want to enjoy life. Thus, the pace of life should be slowed down in order to make life more humanized than being mechanical. The aim of being efficient should be limited to average, so that no one has to be trained to be machines. McDonald succeeded in fast food competition, but I think no one would like to choose foods made on an assembling line if they know the fact behind the scene.

From my point of view, you may not have to wait long for McDonald foods, but they taste all the same and you may have to wait for long if you cook on your own, but that is exactly what our life is.

Chaplin Charles (director, writer and actor), Modern Times, 1936

by Xu Wenhao

One thought on “Modern Times

  1. About the movie, “modern times”, I also have my opinion for it.
    I was influenced by opinion of Masao Maruyama who is a famous scholor in japan.
    This film describe the area of Nazis.
    In this film, Chaplin repeat this script ” WHAT TIME IS IT NOW?”
    this man dosenot simply ask the time.
    It implies he ask us What the situation ignite time is like?
    This film criticize Nazis and people who approve such situation at that time.

    In that sense, this film gave us a lesson.
    I think it is that we have to ask ourselves what the situation of society we live now is like?
    And also we need critical-thinking for our society and watch the problem in our society.

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