Middle Finger Obscenity

by | Feb 13, 2012 | 2012, Musings | 0 comments

Last weekend during half-time at the Super Bowl, a British entertainer named, M.I.A, extended her middle finger as an offensive gesture. The star of the program, Madonna is reportedly furious that her “show was high jacked by the bird flipper.” But to date, apparently no one knows why she did it, nor does anyone know what she was trying to communicate. It was vulgar and completely inappropriate.

I think M.I.A. just wanted some international attention (something like 106 million people watched the Super Bowl.) But apparently, she has a few other quirky preferences. According to USA Today, she demands that three women dressed in full burkas, “groove to the music” during the entirety of her shows. In her dressing room, she has a long list of alcohol preferences, wants organic pure maple syrup, dried mangoes and blueberries and lots of soda, but no Pepsi. But I digress…

What caught my eye was a BBC News magazine article about this incident that asked the question, “When did the middle finger become offensive?” The article began with a historical overview of the way such a gesture has been used down through the ages. It was a part of both the Greek and Roman culture. Apparently a playwright in 419 BC had a character specifically gesture with his middle finger. The author, Daniel Nasaw suggested that it probably came to our shores with Italian immigrants (my Italian friends, that is his idea, not mine!). And, it is documented in a US baseball picture as early as 1886.

The article goes on to note that the “middle finger” has been used in protest and as a symbol of rage in a wide context. Kids, sports figures, entertainers and even politicians have displayed their irritation in such juvenile ways.

It was the author’s conclusion that got my dander up. He said. “Are people honestly offended by this these days? It’s so ubiquitous a sign nowadays that its offence is entirely diluted and lacks any impact. Methinks some people just relish in taking offence purely for the sake of it.”

Well, put me down as one of those folks who are honestly offended. Truthfully, this is just another example of how our culture is on a steep downward spiral. Things that were considered wrong, evil, in bad taste, or just inappropriate have all become so common place. I guess the logic goes like this. “If we show or say the inappropriate thing often enough, it will become accepted.” The conscience of our culture has become sandpapered. Too many laugh at such vulgarity and those who protest are demeaned.

This week might be a good time for you and me to find a topic or subject that matters to us and express it loud, long and clear. Let’s not ignore junk that ought to be protested. Let’s make sure our kids know that somethings ought not to be minimized and marginalized. Let’s stand in the city square and shout, “That stinks!”

Because, things like the middle finger gesture do stink!

By His Grace and for His Glory,
Sherry L. Worel


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