The sociology of popular culture must contend with the clashing of momentous and trivial, in blase contra-point contest. Tattooing, an expression of prosocial anger advertisement, has long hit the mainstream, but where does the line stand denoting acceptability’s reach?
NFL referees have been instructed by their corporate masters to get jacked up and wear short sleeve uniforms to display their older-man steroidal competence. However, what of the authoritarian 20somethings with colored ink splashing from knuckles to clavicle – are they to give up on their dreams of concise and decisive NFL refereeing? Who will become the first concussion-and-steroids sporting arbiter waving a snaking, Disney-colored appendage to signal inopportune cheating?
Getting a massive self-inflicted and permanent paint job on the epidermis has become a rite of opposition to the conservative flow of the times, or the intent may have flipped – the tattoo becomes symbol of conformist tough-guyism, for status conscious men and women alike desiring social recognition for latent hostility to finger-wagging simple-skinners. Written announcements of tattoo purpose have not generally accompanied the expensive inking sessions, leaving us, the audience of unadorned and generally unskewered, usually at a loss to decipher the wavy, cryptic skin murals. Grocery shoppers are not fond of being stopped and quizzed as to the levels of meaning contained in their wrinkled, faint scrawlings, so the world loses the the world-definitional sea-change of needle self-advertisements, similar in ferocity to Norman Mailer’s early cultural attempt, but now commingled in the shopping experience with too many artificial blendings of food and purpose to have any powerful impact – Lo-Fat Gluten Free Barbecue-Style Wingding Hoisin Sauce con Frijoles Blancas?