FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Don’t Print on Me

by DAVID MACARAY

Life is full of surprises.  Even though many of us were in favor of it for reasons of health and hygiene, it was nonetheless a surprise how swiftly and irrevocably the ban against smoking tobacco went into effect.  On Monday, we were all smoking in our homes and offices, mindlessly chugging away on those deadly cancer sticks, and by Friday, we were told we could never smoke indoors again.

Another surprise was the success of bottled water.  Never in our wildest dreams would we have thought that beverage companies could convince price-conscious consumers to voluntarily pay for something they could otherwise get for free, particularly after scientific tests have shown that municipal water is, in fact, freer of bacteria than so-called “mountain spring” water.  It just proves how effective an advertising campaign can be.

But perhaps the biggest surprise of all has been the ubiquity of tattoos.  If you had asked me in 1980 what the chances were of a good portion of the American population—men and women, young and old—walking around in 2010 covered in tattoos, I would have answered “Zero.”

Honestly, I’ve never seen an attractive tattoo.  Never.  Not one.  Not “USMC” (Untied States Marine Corps), not a heart with an arrow piercing it; not a flower, not a butterfly, not a bird, not a horned demon, not a Chinese character purporting to translate as “Peace,” or “Harmony.”  Every tattoo I’ve ever seen manages to detract from the person’s appearance.  In truth, seeing that crap plastered on people’s bodies makes me think of graffiti spray-painted on an overpass.

I knew a woman who tattooed the date of her son’s birth on her forearm.  When I asked why she did it, she said it was because she loved her son and wanted to “commemorate” his birth.  Because I love my daughter, but didn’t feel obliged to engrave the date of her birth on my body, I facetiously asked the woman if she was afraid she’d forget his birthday if she didn’t write it down.  It was a dumb joke.  She wasn’t amused.

According to my neighbor, there are three possible explanations for the popularity of tattoos:  Aesthetics, Imitation, and Exhibitionism.

Aesthetics makes perfect sense.  A woman may think a large, red and blue flower on her shoulder adds to her overall attractiveness, makes her seem more feminine, and a man may genuinely believe that a fierce skull wearing a top hat makes him appear more masculine or menacing.  There’s no accounting for tastes.

And imitation may simply reflect the powerful influence of peer pressure, something we’re all aware of and, if we’re honest with ourselves, something we’ve all succumbed to.  When the high school student body president gets a tattoo on his/her arm, 200 classmates are going to want to get tattoos on their arms.  So maybe that’s the explanation.  Tattoos are viral.

As for exhibitionism, we can only hope that’s not the answer.  We can only hope that a “Hey, look at me!” mentality hasn’t reached critical mass.  “Hey, look at my design, look at my symbol, look at my message!”  Don’t judge me by who I am, folks; judge me by what I have printed on me.

We used to have personalized T-shirts.  Now we have personalized skin.  Given the dominant role that commerce now plays in our society, this is my prediction for the future:  A company will pay us good money to have “Drink Coke” printed on our necks.

DAVID MACARAY, an LA playwright and author (“It’s Never Been Easy:  Essays on Modern Labor”), was a former union rep.   He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, published by AK Press. Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at dmacaray@earthlink.net

David Macaray is a playwright and author. His newest book is “Nightshift: 270 Factory Stories.” He can be reached at dmacaray@gmail.com

More articles by:
May 24, 2016
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
The Financial Invasion of Greece
Jonathan Cook
Religious Zealots Ready for Takeover of Israeli Army
Ted Rall
Why I Am #NeverHillary
Mari Jo Buhle – Paul Buhle
Television Meets History
Robert Hunziker
Troika Heat-Seeking Missile Destroys Greece
Judy Gumbo
May Day Road Trip: 1968 – 2016
Colin Todhunter
Cheerleader for US Aggression, Pushing the World to the Nuclear Brink
Jeremy Brecher
This is What Insurgency Looks Like
Jonathan Latham
Unsafe at Any Dose: Chemical Safety Failures from DDT to Glyphosate to BPA
Binoy Kampmark
Suing Russia: Litigating over MH17
Dave Lindorff
Europe, the US and the Politics of Pissing and Being Pissed
Matt Peppe
Cashing In at the Race Track While Facing Charges of “Abusive” Lending Practices
Gilbert Mercier
If Bernie Sanders Is Real, He Will Run as an Independent
Peter Bohmer
A Year Later! The Struggle for Justice Continues!
Dave Welsh
Police Chief Fired in Victory for the Frisco 500
May 23, 2016
Conn Hallinan
European Union: a House Divided
Paul Buhle
Labor’s Sell-Out and the Sanders Campaign
Uri Avnery
Israeli Weimar: It Can Happen Here
John Stauber
Why Bernie was Busted From the Beginning
James Bovard
Obama’s Biggest Corruption Charade
Joseph Mangano – Janette D. Sherman
Indian Point Nuclear Plant: It Doesn’t Take a Meltdown to Harm Local Residents
Desiree Hellegers
“Energy Without Injury”: From Redwood Summer to Break Free via Occupy Wall Street
Lawrence Davidson
The Unraveling of Zionism?
Patrick Cockburn
Why Visa Waivers are Dangerous for Turks
Robert Koehler
Rethinking Criminal Justice
Lawrence Wittner
The Return of Democratic Socialism
Ha-Joon Chang
What Britain Forgot: Making Things Matters
John V. Walsh
Only Donald Trump Raises Five “Fundamental and Urgent” Foreign Policy Questions: Stephen F. Cohen Bemoans MSM’s Dismissal of Trump’s Queries
Andrew Stewart
The Occupation of the American Mind: a Film That Palestinians Deserve
Nyla Ali Khan
The Vulnerable Repositories of Honor in Kashmir
Weekend Edition
May 20, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Rob Urie
Hillary Clinton and Political Violence
Andrew Levine
Why Not Hillary?
Paul Street
Hillary Clinton’s Neocon Resumé
Chris Floyd
Twilight of the Grifter: Bill Clinton’s Fading Powers
Eric Mann
How We Got the Tanks and M-16s Out of LA Schools
Jason Hirthler
The West’s Needless Aggression
Dan Arel
Why Hillary Clinton’s Camp Should Be Scared
Robert Hunziker
Fukushima Flunks Decontamination
David Rosen
The Privatization of the Public Sphere
Margaret Kimberley
Obama’s Civil Rights Hypocrisy
Pete Dolack
We Can Dream, or We Can Organize
Chris Gilbert
Corruption in Latin American Governments
Dan Kovalik
Colombia: the Displaced & Invisible Nation
Jeffrey St. Clair
Fat Man Earrings: a Nuclear Parable
Medea Benjamin
Israel and Saudi Arabia: Strange Bedfellows in the New Middle East
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail