Is the Fuck-You Finger Over?
NPR asks an intriguing question today. With so many -- of such varied backgrounds, ages, and degrees of fame -- using their middle fingers to express discontent, are we simply growing numb to the shock value of the bird? Does it need a replacement, stat? In the last few months, the gesture has been utilized by former NYC mayor David Dinkins, a BBC weatherman, copious numbers of celebrities, even maybe-hipster/tax-evading ex-day trader Marcos Esparza Bofill.
Other famous bird-shooters: Zac Efron (flipping off cancer!), George W. Bush, Kristen Stewart, William Shatner, Johnny Cash, Nelson Rockefeller, Lady Gaga, Justin Timberlake...who hasn't given the bird, really?
And so, what was once a shocking vulgar gesture is now rather commonplace, maybe even goofily endearing or folksy. Shock value: -1. Finger exercise level: 2.
But how, then, do we express our flash-in-the-pan rage at being cut off by another car on the highway, insulted from afar, or nearly run over by a cabbie who ignores a pedestrian walk signal?
Mark L. Knapp, professor emeritus of communications at the University of Texas at Austin and a longtime chronicler of human behavior, says, "If a group of people become inured to the finger gesture ... my guess is that you'd have to give the finger with more force or make a dramatic facial expression to go with it."
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I.e., up the bird ante! In case you haven't seen the BBC gaffe, it's pretty funny. We suggest the "new bird" be that weird face-rubbing motion the weatherman makes post flip-off. Nicely self-aware, but also creepy, and vaguely sexual. Perfect for these F.U. times!
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