If you live in Australia and haven't seen the promotion around town about The Voice, read about contestants in the media or watched the show yet, you've either been living under a rock, or you're on deadline to finish a book and have been locked in a room downstairs. Though I'm of the latter variety, I was bemused at first by the bus posters of the judges doing the 'V' for 'Victory' pose. Often, these signs are appropriated by popular culture with little reference to their original usage.

Being a sponge for trivia and lover of history, here's the story behind the V sign.

The V sign has a few meanings: it can signify an offensive gesture (with palm inward); it can be V for Victory (palm outward); and the outward V has also been adopted by the 1960's counterculture movement to represent peace.

This sign was derived from the longbowmen fighting in the English Army during the Hundred Years War (circa 1415). The French were in the practice of cutting off the arrow-shooting fingers of the captured English and Welshman, so it was very much a sign of defiance.

The V for Victory sign was popularised by Winston Churchill in 1941 during a V for Victory campaign that appeared in speeches and also in the use of the hand gesture.

Churchill (being an aristocrat) didn't realise that his original adoption of the V sign - with the palm facing inwards - was actually considered an insult amongst common folk.  Once he realised this, he used the V palm facing out!

Since then, US President Nixon used the V for Victory sign (infamously flashing it following his resignation in 1974) and it was also used by protesters by adopting the V as a sign for peace during the Vietnam war and many anti-war protests since.

Promotional campaign and posters aside, now that The Voice is in full swing, I'm told (and have even watched a few minutes to confirm) that the format is pretty compelling.

Great to find new talent here in Australia, whether of the musical variety, or other entertainment genres. I'm all for celebrating that!


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The Voice