It seems that there may be an opinion out there that Hollywood stars, and the like, are desperately trying to be "cool" by covering themselves in (what appears to be) the most basic ass flash ever. Recently Adam Gabbat of the Guardian published an article asking, "are tattoos finally becoming uncool?" Now, it's not that we like to talk shit about anyone...seriously. We have better uses of our time...but this cultural phenomenon of people getting tattoos to be "cooler" while at the same time contributing to the dilution of an art form we hold near and dear...it's just something we had to delve into for a hot minute. I mean, we knew something was up when V Magazine came out with that ridiculous 2017 editorial where models were modeling while being tattooed...but clearly this needs some discussion.
Adam Levine's Super Bowl performance was definitely cringe worthy...I mostly liken it to that cliche of watching a car crash. I was gawking at the screen unable to look away. And, obviously, it was a whole lotta things that made it awful. There's the backlash happening in support of Janet Jackson who has been blacklisted ever since her accidental nip slip. There's the whole...ya know...using African Americans as supporting performers while the Colin Kaepernick protest continued. And then there's the shirtless Adam Levine himself...which, for me, was mostly just an obvious and momentous tribute to Levine's own ego.
As Adam Gabbat put it in his article, "...as someone who has tattoos, I felt distinctly uncomfortable seeing Levine prancing about topless during the Super Bowl. Seeing him held up, in front of hundreds of millions of viewers, as the example of a tattooed man is like your boss declaring they, too, went to that niche music festival, or someone you dislike declaring they are also into that obscure sitcom. He’s ruining it for the rest of us."
I wouldn't necessarily say he's ruining it...but he's certainly a perfect embodiment of someone who is literally just a pawn of the media and literal proof of the power of marketing. After all, Forbes did say that tattooing is now a "$1.7 trillion mainstream industry." It seems everyone is buying in...including musicians who are trying to stay relevant while pushing 40.
Of course, when you speak of how tattoos are becoming "trendy" or "uncool"...it usually means you have to address the evolution of Justin Bieber. I can't spend too much time on this subject because I always worry the more I think about it, or talk about it, the bigger the chance my brain will permanently atrophy. You can, however, take this lovely quiz which asks the questions, "Out of all of Justin Bieber's bad tattoos, which one is the worst?"
Perhaps most newsworthy is his recent foray into face tattoos, in which he got a tiny fineline piece above his eyebrow that said, "grace". Jezebel called it a "cat scratch"...I think it looks a little like when you get really excited about grilled chicken wings and somehow a little bit of that crispy goodness gets flung onto your face. But whatever. This tattoo is just as predictable and bland as we expect this white bread boy to be. What's even more hilarious is that he seems to have had it recently removed...but at least we still have plenty of picture of Bieber casually lifting up his shirt to show off his other ink....
Of course, I must mention the New York Times article that proclaimed, "Face Tattoos Go Mainstream". And really...they're not wrong. Obviously the famous faces that are getting all inked up don't really have to worry about impressing their new boss on Wall Street ever. In fact, it probably works in their favor to look as subversive as possible...angsty tweens all over the world will love it.
But after awhile all of this will just be boring. If it's the same video of some hot famous chick getting the tiniest script tattoo, or an infinity symbol, or dudes getting "tatted" just to look more hardcore...it waters down the meaning of it all. It's basically like all of these people were just brainwashed by the capitalist system to get body mods because being a tattooed Instagram model is "cool"...but I guess that it's also expected. Wanting to keep up with the trends is now new, but it definitely becomes totally predictable. Like another rapper getting a face tattoo?
I remain hopeful however...maybe once people get bored, they'll move on from tattoos and find a new way to shock. Like scarification...or horn implants...or using giant lip plates. What if Miley Cyrus split her tongue? She'd have a whole new reason to stick it out.
Here is the thing: tattoos will always be cool. That is...if they are authentic and honest to your personal experience and expression. Because, in essence, that is what tattoos are for. People use tattoos to express a million different things...and you can tell when it comes from the heart, or when it was literally just as simple as seeing someone with a tattoo, and then going somewhere to get the same exact thing.
But what makes tattoos really awesome is diversity. Tattooing is not about trends. It's not about what is currently "cool"....why? Because ink is permanent. Trends change, but our devotion to being true to ourselves, and true to expressing what we love shouldn't. It's like...loving your mom isn't a trend. You won't regret getting a mom tattoo. But you may regret those Nautical stars you got in the early 2000's because, well, it was a trend. People were just following the leaders. And we know you're better than that. You write your own story, you choose how to express it.