I have a lot of thoughts about politics these days, but so does everybody else, right? So I will not write about politics.
Instead, I want to write about “the finger.” I’ve been giving the finger as long as I can remember. I probably learned it from my brother or sister, though, its use was heavily reinforced in social settings — at least those not policed by grown-ups.
I don’t give the finger very much these days, but I still enjoy seeing a good display. I noticed, recently, though, that there seems to be a lot of variation in how people give the finger, and I’ve become curious about it.
The gesture I learned, which I’ll call the “basic” finger requires that the middle finger be extended fully, and all the others be curled down as much as possible. This includes the thumb. It looks like these:
However, for a long time, I’ve been aware of an alternative interpretation of this gesture, which I will call the “John Hughes.” In this variation, the other fingers are not held down, but merely curled at the knuckles — sometimes only very slightly. The thumb may even be extended. In film, the person giving this gesture often wears fingerless gloves.
Here are some examples:
I actually find performing this variation rather difficult, as I cannot seem to get my middle finger to extend fully while the others are only bent. However, for my wife and many others, this is the default form — she does not associate it with the Chicago suburbs at all.
So, I ask you, my loyal readers, what’s going on? What drives this variation?
- geography (soda / pop / coke)
- disdain vs. anger
Does one skew more Republican and the other more Dem?
Are there more types out there? I realize that if you widen the scope internationally, there are many more variations, including the “V” and the thumb, but I’m mostly curious about the intra-US variation.