Friday, February 2, 2007

Week Four: Culturally Laden Sign

Crude. Offensive. Obscene. Undeniable. Yep raising the middle finger is a simple gesture leaving no ambiguity in its message. The United States Federal Communications Commission has even banned the display of the middle finger–--labeling it obscene.

This is a symbol that is rooted in history–--ancient Roman writings have mentioned the "impudent finger" as a gesture aimed to insult–--and performed repeatedly through American culture. Through its usage, “flipping the bird” has gain a strong foothold on the American lexicon.

For instance, one of Johnny Cash’s more indelible images shows the “Man in Black” flashing the finger to a Nashville music community that never truly supported him. Cash’s action placed him into a club that includes famous athletes and politicians who lifted the middle finger. The list is long and includes distinguished guests Atlanta Falcons Quarterback Michael Vick and former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau.

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