A Nice Gesture by Jeroen Arendsen

Various personal interests and public info, gesture, signs, language, social robotics, healthcare, innovation, music, publications, etc.

Category: Gesture Camouflage

Van Persie’s Nice Gesture Combi Mistaken for a Fascist Salute?

An interesting story in the news (here) and on YouTube today about gestures made by Robin van Persie. Best to watch the video first:


The video containing the gesture (for as long as it stays online…)

Apparently some people interpreted his gesture combination as the Roman/Fascist/Hitler greeting. He himself twittered in response:

Persie_Official Robin van Persie: It has been brought to my attention of some ridiculous allegations concerning my celebration of one of my goals yesterday. It is totally ludicrous to suggest that. My action of brushing my shoulder and pointing to my fans could be construed as anything else but of a showing of joy and celebration. To suggest this meant anything to the contrary is insulting and absolutely absurd as nothing else came into my mind.”

Apart from his grammar, I support his explanation of the gestures. “Brushing your shoulders” is indeed a Dutch gesture performed after performing great feats to indicate “that only ruffled my suit a bit” or “that hardly cost any effort”. Often accompanied with a grin or smirk and brash composure (as displayed here as well). And in this case he uses a salute to direct the gesture towards the audience, which I would interpret as an additional “and I do it all for you”.

This is however also a wonderful example of the importance of context, the perception of intentions, and the sensitivities of observers when it comes to interpreting the meaning of gestures. Someone who is suspicious of Van Persie (for whatever reason) or otherwise prone to ascribe ill intentions to him, may actually look at these gestures, in this situation, quite differently than most people. In this case however it would mean they think extremely lowly of him and of the Arsenal fans. Their line of thinking would run roughly as follows (and just to be certain: I do not agree with it): “I hate fascists/nazi’s. Van Persie may well a secret fascist/nazi. There are more like him in the Arsenal audience that he wishes to salute. He is using the pretext of cheering after a goal to make a (badly) camouflaged fascist salute. But he won’t get away with it, because I saw what I saw.” Well, I pity the one who thinks like that, sorry.

Just to end on a positive note: congrats to Van Persie for a wonderful performance. My hat’s off to you. You indeed make it look so easy sometimes.

Buckingham Palace Plonker

There is a funny little gesture story in the news these days. It is about a guard who is making little gestures (and doing a little dance) while he is supposed to be standing very still.

Buckingham Palace Plonker
The peak of the stroke of a wanker gesture? (source)

On the YouTube: Buckingham Palace Plonker. “Shocking behavior by one of the Queen’s Guards in front of Buckingham Palace. Exclusive footage never seen before in front of Buckingham Palace.” (little dancechecking time)

Elsewhere the Telegraph reports: “The video clip shows him turning his head – apparently to catch the attention of a colleague – before shaking his right fist up and down. Perhaps realizing that he is being watched, he quickly morphs the gesture into a more typical if slightly camp wave, before resuming his sentry duty.”

That is a nice and detailed analysis of the gesture that the Foot Guard is making. A wanker gesture that is camouflaged by morphing it into a wave. I concur. And whoever made the analysis, please keep up the good work.

Update 1 hour later: It could also be a combination of ‘wanker’ and ‘hurry up’, possibly sending a message like ‘hey wanker, hurry up”. Maybe his colleague was slow on his routine? (see the comments in the Sun)

Context Changes Gesture Perception

Here is a movie of one very powerful bionic finger:

The question I want to put forward is: How much of the time is this guy actually gesturing? My guess would be that he does not really give anyone or anything the finger anywhere. He holds up his bionic finger for inspection, he talks to it as he watches it, he is using it as a scanner, fighting with in different ways, but he never actually flips the bird. He doesn’t really make the gesture. Therefore, besides being funny, this video neatly demonstrates how context changes the perception of (insulting) gestures.

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