REALITY TV OVERDOSE

Hope you’re ready for another bitchfest. I’ve been saving up all my anger and vitriol over recently becoming an (official) crotchety old man. And what better way to let it all hang out than blog about my favorite target: reality television?

First of all, I’d like to say something I believe a lot of people who watch TLC’s “L.A. Ink” are thinking: Kat Von D (starlet and resident painted lady) is a bitch. I’ve been fascinated by tattoos since childhood, thanks to bikers. My father owned a tire store and garage that catered to people with a taste for offroad tires and expensive rims. When I was about 9 he hired a mechanic that was a newly-made member of an outlaw motorcycle club. Listening in when I wasn’t supposed to, I heard a lot of this guys stories of debauchery. I also watched him work so I could see his tattoos, as I was too intimidated to ask him about them. After all, this was the 1970’s, when the bad guys on every TV cop show from Starsky and Hutch to ADAM 12 were likely to be members of a motorcycle gang. Long story short, I grew up, learned not to judge a book by its cover, and got my own first tat at 27.

So when L.A. Ink first premiered, I thought: Great! This might be a kool show. And it DOES have its moments…if you can stand the pretentious attitude and all the quasi-New Age babble about “negative energy”. I’ve watched Kat and Corey prance about like they were some kind of rock star, name-dropping and prattling on about their “art”. Don’t get me wrong: as I said, I think tattoos and tattoo artists are very interesting–but there’s just so much talk about deeper meanings that I can take without rolling my eyes. As an artist myself, I find it necessary to keep what I do in check with the real world. Art school snobbery (in my humble opinion) is often used to disguise something in your life  that is lacking. Like a soul, perhaps.

The real complaint I have about L.A. Ink isn’t about the attitude of the artists about their art, however. It’s the attitude of the artists towards non-artists. Not so much the customers (after all, if you run off your customers you lose your source of income; not many people would watch a documentary about a bunch of tattoo artists sitting around pontificating about the deeper meanings of an anchor with ‘Mom’ written over it in Olde English script)…no, where Kat and company show their snobbery is in how they treat their employees.

But it should be noted that their employees keep coming back for more abuse. As Kat herself says in the opening mini-monolog (complete with MTV-style editing and music): “It’s Hollywood!” Apparently there are plenty of folks who will sell anything for Warhol’s promised 15-minutes of fame. Including their soul, shapeless and tattered though it may be. I think it’s time to switch back to a diet of PBS for a while.

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