Monday, January 28, 2013
The obscene gesture
A couple of days ago I watched a “reality” show on television. At one point one of the stars gave another of the stars the finger. You know. The bird; he flipped the bird. No matter what it’s called, it is that so-called obscene gesture, and so on the screen the bird was blurred. It isn’t the first time I’ve seen that on television.
This is something that has bothered me for years. Why is the act of pointing your middle finger in the air obscene? What is obscene about a middle finger? If it is truly obscene, then why aren’t we wearing something on our hands to hide our middle fingers?
If the person on television had dropped his pants and pointed has penis at the other person I would have said, “That’s obscene!” and would have been the first to say that should be blurred beyond recognition. But a finger?
Yes, I know giving someone the finger means you are telling them to stick it up their ass, which is impolite, even fightin’ words, but in today’s world is it obscene? During the same program there was a featured person who, in every sentence, had something bleeped out. He was saying “fucking,” or “bullshit” or some other obscenity. I had my closed captioning turned on. Those obscenities were rendered on CC as “bleep,” or “bleeping,” even though I could clearly lip read what was being said. However, when the same person said someone was a “son of a bitch” (or, as he pronounced it, “sumbitch”) it was not only left in the soundtrack, but spelled out in CC.
George Carlin said there were seven words you can’t say on television. Cybill Shepherd once pointed out on a talk show that the words penis and vagina can be said on television, but cock (or dick) and pussy (or its many other names) cannot be said. But when Cybill said those words they were bleeped out, and yet I could see what she was saying. There’s no consistency to any of this.
In 1974 Mad showed this cover of the finger. It was held off many newsstands and got them a lot of criticism. The creators of Mad thought they were being satiric. Others thought they were being obscene. The outrage over the cover was ridiculous; idiocy was what was really obscene about the whole thing.
It is a picture of a hand with a finger. The inferences drawn from it are in the eye of the beholder, and any bleeping bleeper who doesn't bleeping believe it needs to bleeping grow up.