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Reality Tattoo

As anyone with their eyes open knows, tattoos are becoming more and more, shall we say, popular and trendy. In keeping with trends, within the past year, cable television has brought us two new reality television shows (also another trend) focused around tattoo shops. On A&E, we have Inked. Inked takes place in Huntington & Hart located in the Palms Casino, Las Vegas. Then we have TLC's Miami Ink. Miami Ink based in Miami, Florida (of course) follows a custom shop opened up by four friends. Although these two shows are based around the workings of tattoo shops, that is just about where the similarity ends. Inked seems to be more focused and the drama and turmoil of the workers and artist involved. The first episode of Inked has one wondering, if there will be another episode. There is not a lot of focus on the art and the people getting tattooed. This is where Miami Ink comes in. Miami Ink focuses very much on the clients and their wants and desires. There is always a story behind everyone and every tattoo that walks though the door. Obviously these shows focus on different viewers. You, yourself can read reviews of the shows. Just make use of your favorite search engine.

The question here is, how does this reflect on the modded community? Is this a positive thing for those that are tattooed, or are they just shining a light on the subculture to find more entertainment?

At first glance, it would seem Inked might do more harm than good. The show does not focus a lot on the tattoos people are getting. There is very little story behind them. At least, it is not the focus of the show. The show takes a tried and true approach to reality TV, the drama. We get to see from the start how close the shop comes to closing its doors because of a bit of dispute between the two owners. From there, we learn all about the apprentice and his trials and tribulations. Now off to a running start, we get into the relationships between different people in the shop and even sometimes their friends. Immediately in my mind, I lose respect for this show and the studio. With all the focus being on the drama, it almost seems to degrade the tattoo industry. With some of the conflicts showing just how much attitude some of these people have, it plays right into the tough tattooed guy image, or does it? Now that may be a little unfair to the people and artists at Huntington & Hart. It is not them that decides what is going to air. The producers have the power to shape what it is that the viewers watch. They are bringing to light the portions of reality they want us, the viewer, to see. Keep in mind that it is indeed a workplace. There is a lot of passion to go around. When it comes to work, things are never smooth sailing. Is your job a perfect environment? This program does show the real behind the scenes. It does show the reality of what it is to live and work in such a place.

Miami Ink has a more TLC approach to the whole reality show. It almost seems more laid back and down to earth. They do not ignore the relationships of the artists, but they do focus a lot on the clients. They show the people that come in to get tattooed, and they show them from when they enter the store, to when they leave with their ink. The beauty of this is a possible explanation. It is not easy to answer the age-old question of why. Miami Ink answers that question about as good as anyone. They tell the story behind that tattoo. There is always a deep meaning there. There is even the couple that came in to get tattoos to represent their relationship. Even the artist sees that there is something wrong with this picture and sure enough, only the guy returns. You get to watch some people learn lessons, make mistakes, and show their feelings on their sleeves, fairly literally. This more refined approach to the show would seem to give it a more positive exposure. Still they do not leave out a little misbehaving here and there. It is reality you know.

So just how does this affect the modded community? It certainly shines more light in our direction. It brings different kinds of exposure. Together the shows reinforce some stereotypes while busting others to bits. I believe the audience is introduced to things they never thought about. There is a sense of community there. You can go in and get someone to work with you to change your body, to mark your canvas. I believe my own perceptions have been changed just a little, even though I have stepped though the doors of a few shops already. Everyone is going to take his or her own unique thing from it all. For the people that want to get tattooed and have been maybe a little to scared or intimidated to step inside, can now do it in their pjs in the comfort of their home. For those that think poorly of such a sub culture, then this is one more chance for them to become more informed. For those of us that have been in and around it, well, of course, we feel right at home.

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submitted by: aniorange
on: 24 May 2006
in Culture

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