Everyone sporting the pirate wearAmerica has gone buccaneer. Europeans have style but Americans are looking more and more like Blackbeard and Captain Hook and are rapidly running out of body parts to poke, prod, pierce and taint.
By: Kevin Holten, The Dickinson Press
America has gone buccaneer. Europeans have style but Americans are looking more and more like Blackbeard and Captain Hook and are rapidly running out of body parts to poke, prod, pierce and taint.
It used to be that tattoos were something sailors found on their forearms or biceps in the morning after an evening of rampant overindulgence and merrymaking. Now tattoos are spreading like dandelion seeds on spring lawns, carpeting American bodies with graffiti from head to toe. Even NBA basketball games are being stopped while TV replays during TV timeouts highlight player’s tattoos.
Piercing used to be something teenage girls did to their ear lobes after hours of badgering their parents. Now piercing is so commonplace that some bodies are being partially held together by the ringlets, like rivets on a steam ship.
This fetish originated in East Los Angeles in the early 80s when gang members began wearing pants the size of pool tarps, T-shirts as big as camping tents, chains from the back of tow trucks, and Los Angeles Raider caps backwards over red and blue gang scarves. Tattoos and piercing came slightly later.
I thought it looked comedic at the time and never dreamed that nearly every adolescent male from Carson, Calif. to Bangor, Maine would eventually claim the fashion as his own with one slight modification; pant waists worn below the butt. This simple posterior adjustment not only altered fashion but reinvented the way young men strode down the street, creating a nationwide walk impediment. Footprints in the snow would never be the same.
Like the hippie look of the love era, this too seems to be about making a statement. Except that this time I’m not remotely sure what the statement is or why it’s being made. Even middle aged doctors are braiding their beards, donning tacky jewelry, tattooing anything and everything and flying down the highway on bulky two-wheelers. It seems that everyone wants to look intimidating as if they think they might meet a terrorist in the detergent aisle of their local grocery store and have to scare him off. Or they’re auditioning to co-star with Johnny Depp in the next “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie thriller.
It somehow reminds me of grade school when I used to buy a new notebook and begin doodling on it until I no longer wanted it anymore because it’d look too messy. I think if I got a tattoo and then another and another I’d feel the same way about my body, which is just a littler harder to replace.
My limited research has led to the following conclusion: People are searching for the fountain of youth, demonstrating their masculinity, bonding with a group, seeking adventure, they’re insecure, covering up an ugly body, keeping up with the Jones’ or being so individual that they’re no longer individual. Whatever the case, it appears to be addicting and I expect to hear some child, at a future little league baseball game, brag about how much better his grandma’s tattoo is, than his mom or dad’s.
— Holten is the Dickinson State University Foundation communication director.