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Maybe it’s just because I read so many different articles about tattoo, but the perception that I generally have of the media reporting on tattoo outside of the realm of actual tattoo magazines is that they don’t really seem to get it. Not that there’s a whole lot to “get”, it’s just that the media generally views tattoo in two different ways. First off, before they even talk about tattoo in depth they all have to assure us that tattoos are no longer just for rockstars, bikers and hooligans and that tattoos are actually now officially mainstream. A sentiment that has been well known for years and years now, but hey, at least they’re trying to assure people that tattooed folks aren’t outlaws. Better late than never, right?
Once they’ve gotten past the introduction, assuring us that tattoos are popular with “normal” people now, they then move on to one of two trains of thought. Either they talk about the risk in getting tattooed because one day you might regret having the tattoo, which then segues into the rising popularity of laser tattoo removal, or they focus on the most extreme aspects of tattoo: people getting their eyes tattooed, people covering their faces in tattoo, people getting absolutely ridiculous novelty tattoos. Somehow it all just seems like a way to reluctantly talk about the subject of tattoo without actually having to legitimise it.
The most recent example of exactly this type of media coverage is this article from the BBC. As I mentioned yesterday, the 7th annual London Tattoo Convention took place this past week in London. Rather than publish an article about the numerous amazing tattoo artists in attendance or the work that they do or even rather than writing an article that would somehow attempt to allow the average non-tattooed BBC reader to see tattoo in a new or different light, all that we get is a rehash of the two aforementioned mainstream media staples on tattoo.
To say that this is disappointing is an understatement. I appreciate that the major media sources like the BBC give tattoo some exposure, but it’s 2011 folks, let’s elevate our game a bit, okay?