From: Metascience (
Date: Fri Jun 15 2001 - 08:21:25 BST

  • Next message: Wade T.Smith: "Re: Mooning"

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    Date: Fri, 15 Jun 2001 09:21:25 +0200
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    Subject: Mooning
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    Yesterday, a large group of demonstrators were mooning president Bush at
    the summit in Gothenburg, Sweden. He is very unpopular in Europe,
    especially for breaking the Kyoto agreement (against air pollution). I
    wonder if American media dare show the mooning - the European media
    certainly do. (For those not acquainted with American slang: To moon means
    showing your bare arse to somebody)

    The word to 'moon' has entered the Danish language without translation
    during the last couple of years and has now been used in the TV news for
    the first time.

    An ethnographic study of American youth (1) published in 1987 mentions this
    word as the slang of a limited youth subculture and unknown to adults. They
    also said "Moons are shining tonight".

    Obviously, the word has spread quite far since then. I don't know if the
    word has spread to other non-english languages, but I consider it very
    likely. We didn't have a word for this act before, though the act was not
    completely unknown. The act has probably been more common after it has got
    a name.

    The act of mooning may have various meanings:
    1. a prank
    2. a provocation against sexual norms
    3. an expression of contempt.

    In the 1987 study, mooning was just a childish prank. Yesterday in
    Gothenburg, it was certainly an expression of contempt.

    Sociologists would argue that the word, the act, and its meaning are
    strongly tied together. Most memeticists probably agree that these three
    spread together as a meme complex.

    The meme may get its fitness from pushing a sexual button, according to
    Brodie's theory (2).

    1) Fine, Gary: With the boys: little league baseball and preadolescent
    University of Chicago press 1987.

    2) Brodie, Richard: virus of the mind: the new science of the meme.
    seattle: integral press 1996.

    M. Schwartz, Ph.D.

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