Thursday, July 25, 2019

About tattoos

News comes of a gentleman from Seattle who, his former enthusiasm for Mr Morrissey rather tainted by the singer’s recent toxic outbursts, resolves to do something about his own celebratory tattoo. But instead of having it removed entirely, he has a line put through it and another performer’s – Sheryl Crow in this case but it could be anyone – above. The good memories of what Morrissey offered aren’t wiped out, but his sins are acknowledged. And, of course, if in the coming years Ms Crow should turn into a bumptious old bigot, the same fate could befall her.

I do wonder if this if this might be the answer to all our mithering about representations of people who were once lauded but later turn out to be arses; and also to the existing cultural products of the same. We don’t actually need to tear down the statues of colonialist exploiters or Confederate generals; nor do we remove the works of artists whose behaviours or attitudes transgressed what we now deem to be right and proper, and yes, I’m thinking of the Eric Gill carvings on Broadcasting House. We simply, literally or metaphorically, put a line through them. A small plaque would do, a sticker, an announcement before a performance, a bit of text before a film. If nothing else, it’s a gentle reminder that our own activities (eating meat, using plastic bottles, driving cars, maybe something that today seems so utterly unexceptional that it would seem seriously daft to pick it as an example) will make us look like complete and utter shitbuckets to our descendants. But perhaps, rather than burning our effigies, they’ll be just a little kinder, and add the equivalent of a rueful “tut tut” to what – if anything – we leave behind.

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