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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Now Justin Bieber Wants to Appropriate Tattoo Culture. Ugh.

Posted By on Wed, Jan 29, 2014 at 8:47 AM

click to enlarge bieber.jpg

Justin Bieber's left arm is a testament to what happens when you get tattooed too much, too young, and without thinking it through properly. Have you seen that thing lately? It screams of walking into shops on the spur of the moment, pointing to a piece of flash on the wall, getting it in the first spot that seems cool, then wondering what to do with it afterwards.

First there was that stupid owl on his forearm. Then the panther head on

his bicep that was totally out of proportion with the owl. And then, later on, he decided to just go ahead and fill

in all the gaps in between those two things, because he fancied having a sleeve.

And, while the far more delicate work between the bits of flash is beautifully done, it makes for a totally nonsensical overall piece. A rose here, an eye there, a little angel, a knight, some cloudy bits -- this might be one of the least cohesive sleeves we've ever seen, despite the expert hand that clearly attempted to make this mess look like one complete thought.

So imagine our horror yesterday when we heard that the 19-year-old Beebs wants to open a tattoo shop with his dad. Why? Well, according to a RadarOnline report, he's tired of touring and "It's his dream for it to be a very high-end parlor, unlike anything currently out there." Hmmm. How do we put this?

Fuck you, Justin Bieber. Fuck you and the panther head you rode in on.

Justin's sudden decision to be Tattoo Guy represents a very special kind of cultural appropriation. He's been doing this a lot lately: picking up on an important subculture, pouncing on it, assuming he's an expert overnight, and claiming it as his own, despite having the most basic grasp of what it's about. Did you see this bullshit?

Just as it takes more than picking up a can of spray paint to understand and execute graffiti well, it takes more than three years of sitting in a chair getting some poorly-thought-out ink to understand tattoo culture and treat it with the respect that it deserves. Justin Bieber's ignorance of these art forms is abhorrently apparent in the way that he treats them. To him, these are just two subcultures that he thinks will make him look like more of a badass, so he's rolling all over them like he fucking invented them.

As for this tattoo shop he wants to open being "high end" and "unlike anything currently out there," we have to wonder what that means. Will everyone get a complimentary glass of Cristal on the way in? Or will he just be charging his gullible fans $600 an hour to get tattooed by the kinds of artists who would be willing to work in a shop run by a bratty, self-entitled kid who has zero experience in the industry and very little appreciation for it?

We can only hope that these shop plans never come to fruition. Because for people actually involved in tattoo culture, this is precious space and sacred ground. Not to mention the fact that there is a strong hierarchy here. Tattooing is not a game you can just buy your way into, and the people at the core of the culture do not take it lightly when the clueless try to march in and jump straight to the top of the food chain without having earned a place there.

If Justin Bieber doesn't feel like touring anymore and truly wants to step back from being an egg-chucking, rental-car-racing pop star, perhaps he should go the fuck home and read some books for a few years. He would be better served by educating himself, learning some humility and acquiring a modicum of respect for the tight cultures he so badly wants to co-opt.   

-- @Raemondjjjj

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Rae Alexandra


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