tattoos: not just for filthy whores!

NOTE TO SELF: If it is late afternoon, and someone asks you “Hey, wanna finish this beer?,” and you have already had two, one of which was technically a barley wine, keep in mind you are a tiny lady and this will make you stumble home and take a nap. This will mess up your sleep schedule, a lot. Oops.

ANYWAY. This is why I’m on the internet late. Also, The Rejectionist reminded me that I had some bile to spew about the coverage of Sandra Bullock’s husband’s various affairs, specifically the idiotic nonsense being bandied about when it comes to heavily tattooed women.

I don’t keep up a whole lot with celebrity gossip, besides skimming the headlines when I’m in line at 7-11 and reading the occasional thing on Jezebel. But I guess the gist of this story is: Bullock’s husband, who got famous for founding West Coast Choppers, has been screwing various other women behind her back, most of whom are heavily tattooed. One of them, Michelle McGee, went public about this. She is, apparently, an unpleasant person, and has white supremacist politics and a history of abusing marital partners. Cue the internet collectively crapping itself.

Okay, I’m not going to defend someone for being an abusive racist idiot. But I am also not down with the various creepy, weird responses the internet hivemind has conjured up for this, most of which have to do with McGee’s appearance and are along the lines of “look at those tattoos! Of course she’s trashy!” Usually this is contrasted with how sweet and classy Bullock looks. Hey, guys? You can criticize a cheating asshole and/or a racist idiot without bringing up the Madonna/whore complex you should maybe be knocking around with your therapist instead of spewing all over the internet. And since none of you actually know Bullock (which makes your assertions that “oh Sandy is so strong I know she’ll get through this” especially bizarre and gross), who’s to say that her “America’s sweetheart” persona is anything like how she behaves in her personal life?

Annoyance set in further when I read this nonsense, wherein the New York Post rounded up a bunch of heavily tattooed ladies and asked them about their work, supposedly to dispel the notion that we’re all clones of Michelle McGee. Seriously? That’s kind of like if Jesse James’ mistress had a fondness for sweater vests, and the Post decided to interview everyone they found wearing a sweater vest, to drive home the point that wearing a sweater vest doesn’t make you a homewrecker. Tattoos can depict any number of things and are popular/accepted in quite a few subcultures; you can’t just pick out a a random pair of tattooed people and expect them to have common interests or personality traits. Which I suppose was the point of the article, but just the supposed need to state that irritated me.

They also quote Marisa Kakoulas, whose articles I’ve read every now and then over the years. I understand her conceptualization of tattoos as fine art – I mean, many of my tattoos are fine art (my left arm and chest are all Gustave Dore illustrations), so on one level (tattoos taking skill and care, on the level that good paintings/drawings/etc do) it makes sense. But I’m wary about the class implications – after all, “fine art” doesn’t just mean good art, it can also mean art that is expensive, tucked away in exclusive spaces, and not meant to be consumed by the general public. While I’d welcome not being instantly stereotyped when people see my work, I’m not sure that vigorously trying to eliminate the working-class connotations that some people attach to tattoos is such a great way to do that.

Okay, time to attempt sleep again. Maybe I’ll just get my overweight cat to jump on my head and knock me unconscious.

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~ by Smellen on April 6, 2010.

One Response to “tattoos: not just for filthy whores!”

  1. Yes exactly!

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