Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Opinion Trumps Reality

The NYT has a cute article this morning about technology's application to the events in Iran. Nothing profound, mind you, but I recommend, especially if technology and its application to life interests you.

The reason for this post, however, is to have a look at the picture which goes with the story.
Or better, have a look at the caption: A Moussavi supporter flashed a peace sign to marching protesters.
It's not a peace sign, of course. It's a victory sign. The fingers form a V, not a P.
Telling, isn't it. About the New York Times, not Iran.


Splashman said...

Hmmm. In America, that gesture is known as the peace sign (go here and scroll down a bit: Most everyone else in the world knows it as V-for-victory. So perhaps this was simply a bit of America-centrism slipping into the story. And given the anti-America bias of the NTY, I'm guessing the author has already been fired.

(Bonus points to anyone who can form a P with one hand.)

Splashman said...

Whoops. Make that NYT, not NTY.

Yaacov said...

Fascinating Splashman. The things one can find on the Internet: how did anyone ever live without it?

Still, even your source tells that it was a sign of victory for peace. If that meaning has since been lost (it was 40 years ago, who can remember that long), mightn't this be an additional of my point about the reigning Zeitgeist?

Anonymous said...

well ... here is a little bit about the ambiguity of the sign which obviously can mean anything you want it to mean-
starting with Churchill who is perhaps the most iconic user and who obviously got it slightly wrong at times ;-)
therefore the NYT is right to interpret it any way it wants but then shouldn't it tell its readers that it's very very very open to interpretation?

Splashman said...

Mr. Lozowick, you seem to imply I found an interesting bit of trivia that may or may not be true. On the contrary, if you ask a hundred Americans what that gesture means, 90 will say "peace", and the other 10 will say "to Americans it means peace, to everyone else it means victory."

America's hippie generation (late 1950's through early 1970's) adopted the "peace sign" as their favorite gesture, and that usage became ingrained in American culture because of the intense social turmoil of that period.

As for What It All Means, in my opinion, the only conclusion one can draw from the misinterpretation is that the American author was incredibly ignorant. If a British writer misinterpreted an American gesture, I would hesitate to condemn his entire society.

Anonymous said...

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Laura SF said...

Agreed - as an American, I can assure you it's called a "peace sign." But I also know that in the Arab world and in many (I suspect most) other countries, it's a V for Victory.

The American press likes to call it a peace sign when it's used by Arabs - and I don't think that's a coincidence.