First surprise of 2017


It happened again last night.

I watched my new favourite show and enjoyed every snarky, disfigured and knuckle-dragging moment.

INKMASTERS is a reality contest program now five years established and currently in its eighth season. Each week contestants are given a series of tattoo challenges (all permanently inscribed on real clients) which are then critiqued by the resident judging panel. One person is eliminated each show, accompanied by the poker-faced pronouncement “You do not have what it takes to be Inkmaster.” The remaining ink warriors live to battle another week in the hope of collecting the eventual $100 000 prize pot.

As someone who has made no secret of their dislike for tattoos and their questionable, spreading-like-a-virus popularity that has enveloped this country over the last half-dozen or so  years, it surprises me no end that I would find something to like in a program such as this.

The rise of ‘gangsta chic’ and highly visible ‘look at me’ tribal markings, conceived more for the purposes of making their wearer appear as fierce as possible rather than for any genuine ‘artistic’ motives and once only associated with Outlaw Motorcycle gangs, inmates and sailors (if you want to go real old school), is an anthropological phenomena the explanation of which could no doubt occupy many an exhaustively researched sociology thesis.

The reasons for my sudden and uncharacteristic interest in this show may be threefold:

(1)    A subconscious desire to soften my steadfast and long-held anti-tattoo stance. Only just recently I’ve been forced to admit, despite wishing for so long to the contrary, that this is a  society trend not going away anytime soon. Hundreds of thousands of people who’ve decided to go the way of the tramp stamp (yep, I said it) are going to have them for a very long time. It’s safe to say the great majority of those people have or at some stage in their lives will have children, and so the next generation of skin junk devotees is ready-made.

(2)    On the way to pick up a phone-ordered pizza (who does that?) about a week ago I exchanged pleasant words with the proprietor of my local tattoo shop. The pizza shop was located right next to the parlour (do they still call them that?) and as I walked past, the reverse-baseball-cap-wearing young chap that emerged was in the process of locking up for the night to go home. We shared a joke about a poster that adorned one of the walls of the shop and without me even realising it my attitude softening process had commenced.

(3)    It’s summer New Year holidays. The free-to-air television landscape is more barren than the sandhills of the Serengeti. Put plainly, there’s not a great deal much else worth looking at. (This water-for-a-dying-man phenomena is also how I stumbled upon THE KING OF QUEENS eight years back)

To be real, I don’t think I’ve really moved away anywhere near a complete 360 degrees from my preference to give as wide as possible a berth to people whose intention, facilitated by whatever means (tattoos included), is clearly to make themselves appear as scary as possible to others. But if nothing else, I’ve found a decent enough show to help tide me over the television off-season wasteland.

It sure beats watching re-runs of Married with Children.

One thought on “First surprise of 2017

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