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Saturday, December 07, 2013

Wait, Steven Tyler in Aerosmith is flashing an obscene gesture in Rock 'n Roller Coaster?!

Did you know this?

I didn't realize it until this morning, but there's an obscene gesture in the preshow of Rock 'n Roller Coaster, and it's been there all along. It has every appearance of being intentional.

We meet Aerosmith in the recording studio, and someone suggests backstage passes for all of us. Steven Tyler, the band's singer, puts his hand to his forehead, palm out, folds in one finger and a thumb into a loop, and says "Wait a minute, I love that idea."

The gesture always struck me as idiosyncratic, an artist just being quirky and different. Especially with that one finger folded in--his ring finger. That's what makes them artists, right? Being quirky and different and just a little bit weird?

Then today, I hear that basketball players in Illinois were suspended for making a rude gesture in their official portraits. It's the same gesture Tyler makes, though in their case it's not palm-out. The gesture is called "the shocker" and it's meant to convey--apologies for the sexual explicitness--"two in the pink and one in the stink." If you google the Shocker, you'll see variations on this hand gesture, always with the ring finger folded in.

That's when it hit me: Tyler is doing the same thing. And he's doing it right at the Disney public. Who knows how many knew they were being .... "insulted" is too strong a word. Winked at?

Assuming this gesture meant the same thing all those many years ago, I'm guessing Tyler did it to "get away with something" while being prominently featured on a Disney attraction. He wasn't trying to be quirky and different. He was trying to be snarky, and sneak in a sly reference to sex in a place normally seen as only family-friendly.

Disney has such a wholesome reputation, it's something of a badge of honor to sneak in some sexual reference when you can. To do it for almost fifteen years (the ride opened in 1999) and have only a few people notice could be seen to elevate Tyler to legendary status. Well, at least in my mind, since I've never noticed before. And I say this as someone who wasn't particularly an Aerosmith fan.

Did you know this was there and what it meant? I suspect I'm just behind the curve on this one, and a lot of people already knew this, but it was new to me! I didn't live in Florida until 2004, so I suspect my California bias until then is the reason this wasn't on my radar earlier.

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Kevin Yee is the author of numerous independent Disney books, including the popular Walt Disney World Earbook series and Walt Disney World Hidden History.