Hey, there, one and all! It’s The Five coming at you with another spine-tingling, brain-twisting, perception shattering nugget of near-Pulitzer quality knowledge and examination of your favorite subjects, as well as our own.
If you are a Tucson local, this will come as no great surprise. If you are a “reality T.V.” fan…again. No news here. For those of you, however, who dwell in dark spaces, hiding from the onslaught of information forcibly entering your sensory orifices every moment of the day, let me fill you in.
One of Tucson’s own sons, Mr. Anthony Michaels, won the top prize on the Spike T.V. hit show, InkMaster. Before I begin to get to the meat and potatoes of what this article is about, I must take a moment to acknowledge what Anthony pulled off. He’s a TREMENDOUS artist. When you watch him on the show clips, the man is cool, calm, and most of all, completely respectable. You show me where, in any other reality television contest-show, the calm, rational, driven, focused contestant won the enchilada. NEVER. NOT ONCE. What Anthony has done is to maintain his image by simply not giving the packs of production hyenas the fuel to make him look like the arrogant, volatile, emotional wrecks they usually portray tattoo artists to be in the interests of ratings.
Which brings me to the thrust of today’s topic. Pop media and its portrayal of our precious industry and the individuals that make it as dynamic and adaptable to social climate change as it has been for decades on end.
I know, I know…it’s an ages-old argument about ratings versus realism. Society claims to want (through various Nielsen Polls) reality on display for their entertainment. In response, an entire genre of television and cable programming has sprung forth to highlight the weird and the wonderful from all points of the globe. One subculture that has (questionably) benefitted from this new form of extreme exposure is Tattooing. One does not have to spend much time at all to find one tattoo show or another, be it a contest program, cover-up confessional or shop-centric set. The increase of not only public acceptance but also snowballing popularity of tattooing in modern American society has certainly netted our industry a boat-load of change…but it has brought with it a dark, seedy underbelly that most will never understand.
First, let’s just be honest. Barring a few exceptional individuals who happen to be possessed of the patience of the mountains themselves, there are not very many people who would allow themselves to be disrespected, insulted and manipulated by another artist like you see. Those heated arguments? Without $100k on the line, you’re mopping up blood. One of the artists bringing a ton of drama into the shop? Without that Hollywood contract holding the dogs at bay…Bye, Felicia! It’s a recipe for a disappointment, as some of these hopeful viewers might enter a tattoo establishment looking for that dog and pony show, only to offer up negative reviews when they got none of it. Popular media has begun to set up unrealistic expectations within the tattoo-market populace.
The very first ripple we felt was when people suddenly began believing that entire sleeves, back pieces, torso plates and leg socks could be completed in an hour or two. I wish I could relate how many times I’ve had to explain the process of time-lapse videography to someone, and suggest they review an episode to count the number of wardrobe changes that occur on those huge jobs! The second ripple was the Pinterest takeover. Almost overnight, it seemed the imaginations of millions were uniformly blunted, boxed and stored away, to be replaced by a stream of Pinterest mediocrities. Thankfully, the wave seems to be subsiding, but let me just put this out there; if you have seen it on Pinterest…SO HAS EVERYONE ELSE. You most certainly, absolutely, definitely, should not get that person’s tattoo on your body!!! If you like the idea, find an artist to make you one of your own, or maybe something that doesn’t immediately resemble someone else’s tattoo. It’s sorta why they call us artists.
That leaves us with the third ripple. What’s it going to be? Only you and I can decide that, sports fans. Popular media can’t make their money feeding us input that we reject…which means the future of entertainment (unlike the Presidency) is in the hands of the People. Watch what’s good. Support what’s worth it. Get what YOU want.