The Inventor of the Foam Finger Says Miley Cyrus "Took an Honorable Icon and Degraded It"

Steve Chmelar created the first version of the giant finger in the '70s and was horrified by Miley's use of it at 2013 MTV VMAs

By John Boone Aug 29, 2013 6:36 PMTags
Miley Cyrus, LatexTheo Wargo/WireImage

Miley Cyrus, the she-devil demon sent from the Underworld to perform her "hoe" twerking at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards and bring about the moral decay of society, has not yet been taken to task for her most grave sin of all: desecrating the sacred foam finger

This according to Steve Chmelar, the man who (maybe) invented the foam finger.

A 16-year-old Chmelar is said to have created the original "No. 1 Hand" from papier mâché and spray paint in his parents' garage in Ottumwa, Iowa, in 1971. He used it to show his support at a high school basketball game ("It was pretty popular at the game," he brags).

Fast-forward four decades to this past weekend's VMAs, where Miley pranced around onstage in a flesh-colored spandex number and became digitally intimate with a foam finger (designed by Lisa Katnic, in this case). And that is not—NOT—how Chmelar intended for the finger to be used.

Kevin Mazur/WireImage, Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for MTV

"I would say that it certainly misrepresented its intent to encourage team support," Chmelar says of the incident. "She took an honorable icon that is seen in sporting venues everywhere and degraded it."

He continues, "Fortunately, the foam finger has been around long enough that it will survive this incident. As for Miley Cyrus, let's hope she can outlive this event and also survive."

There are two sentences we'd like you to revisit from that statement, the emphasis is ours:

1. She took an honorable icon [...] and DEGRADED IT.

2. As for Miley Cyrus, let's hope she can outlive this event and ALSO SURVIVE.

"Survive" what?!

"For people that like that kind of entertainment, I'm sure that it met their needs," Chmelar, 59, further says. "If I had a choice between Julie Andrews singing 'The Sound of Music' and Miley Cyrus doing '[We] Can't Stop,' I'd go the Julie Andrews route, but everyone has their choice and their decision.

[Editors' note: For those unaware of behind-the-scenes negotiations, MTV only had one performance spot left at this year's VMAs and the decision came down to Julie Andrews singing "The Sound of Music" or Miley Cyrus singing "We Can't Stop." They ultimately, possibly regretfully, decided on the latter.]

As for the history of the foam finger, Geral Fauss was the one who first made the "No. 1 Hand" of foam and began selling them in '78. Chmelar says that he believes he inspired Fauss' design and that "one thing leads to another and other people copy it and it goes on." 

Chmelar himself is a VP of commercial sales at a construction supply company now and has a patent for "a concrete forming system called Riser Solutions that is used to construct tiered concrete." Stick your tongue out and try to make that sexy, Cyrus.

"I've not gained a dime from any royalties or anything like that," Chmelar admits of his hand in the foam finger. "But it's just a matter of satisfaction. It was fun to do it and create it, and it's certainly rewarding to see what it's become and the variations of it."

Rewarding, that is, as long as you don't finger yourself with it on live TV.