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Let’s try to decipher what Steven Tyler thinks is an obscene hand gesture

(Photo credit: Kevin Winter/Getty)

Just yesterday, Disney finally decided that 17 years of Steven Tyler flashing kids the shocker was enough. One generation of America’s youth, forever warned away from utilizing the obscene hand gesture—for fear of winding up resembling a carnival ride operator that Studio 54 threw up on—was apparently enough for Walt Disney World, which digitally altered video footage of the Aerosmith singer in its Rock ’n’ Roller Coaster to eliminate Tyler’s use of the hand gesture. Now, rather than throwing up a naughty-boy dirty hand sign beloved by 12-year-old boys and Steven Tylers everywhere, the then-future American Idol judge simply raises his hand, a CGI fourth finger proudly outstretched among the other three, as if to say, “Nothing to see here, you’ll have to settle for only being appalled by the band’s latter-day musical output.”

Steven Tyler was clearly online yesterday, perhaps buying more scarves, because he was soon alerted to the company’s action. Rather than responding in his usual way—shrieking gibberish into a microphone, then endorsing Skittles to no one in particular—Tyler took to social media, posting an initial reply (accompanied by a photo we’ll get to in a minute) on Facebook.


Which was soon followed by this Tweet, featuring the same picture:

Now, the first post alone would suggest Tyler is being a genial good sport, a grandfatherly rolling with the censorship punches that probably affects him about as much as a gentle breeze at this point. But it’s the ”SO WHAT EXACTLY DO YOU THINK THIS MEANS?” that invites speculation. Other than meaning Tyler is incapable of turning off his caps lock button, he seems to believe he’s flashing some sort of rude gesture, combined with a facial expression that’s either a Jerry Lewis tribute or a sign he just tried to logically justify his continued success. So what do we think Tyler believes he’s holding up? Here are some options, as suggested by A.V. Club staff:

  • He’s trying to do the British version of flipping the bird and getting it all tangled up.
  • By claiming the hat bearing the insignia “FUCK!!” is a “dead giveaway,” his hands are somehow engaged in sexual congress, possibly by the V shape signifying vaginas engaged in scissoring, even though that is a gesture that has literally never been made in human history.
  • Decades of drug use have left feeling in only his middle finger, and so the other digits more or less have a mind of their own at this point, meaning any gesture is arguably obscene to him.
  • Thinks his fingers are spelling out “E = mc 2,” which is a gang sign for those who refuse to accept string theory at this point, which is plenty obscene, although there’s an argument to be made for Heim theory as a scientific alternative.
  • He’s attempting to mimic the classic one-sheet for Robert Altman’s M*A*S*H, whose bold, subversive, anti-establishment themes were what first inspired him to make a joke about finger-banging.
  • He’s spelling out “23,” the approximate number of years it’s been since Steven Tyler wasn’t embarrassing.

Unfortunately, much like just about every song released by Aerosmith post-1995, we’ll probably never get an explanation for what the hell he was thinking.

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