99% of the time I refrain from participating in argumentative blog commentary (when I’m not on this here soapbox, I mean) – something about a long string of nasty commenters just shuts my brain off. Lotsa folks, as I am sure you’ve noticed, get quite fired up over the whole thing. I appreciate and respect the medium, if we dare call it that, and simply don’t involve myself. And it is not that I find it abhorrent or anything, but rather that I get so easily roped into these things that I eventually exclude all other forms of creativity. The most recent reminder of this was the Great Boing Boing Shitstorm of ’08 (as mentioned here, by me): 1000+ on-topic comments that ramped from funny to ignorant to cruel and back again — hundreds of times over — actually gave me insomnia (true!). I just couldn’t stop thinking about it.
Mostly, I find I no longer have the skin for the cruelty. It’s in large part the reason we started this website. With daily meanness contests over at the Gawker megalith, it was high time we created out own kiddie pool.
This brings me to commentary surrounding the internet fame of this gentleman:
© Neville Elder for Bizarre Magazine
First off, I read about him over on Neatorama (who seem like very nice kids), and within the first five comments is :
“ew, why would anyone want to look like that?”
“What an ugly idiot!”
It devolves from there.
I immediately had to stop reading. For predictable reasons I feel defensive about anyone calling a tattooed or similarly modified person “ugly” or “stupid”.
There’s a pretty straight-forward psychology that can be unwound here, one where people are startled by something unusual and instead of stopping with “Blech, that’s not for me,” they progress to verbally abusing the person. Of course, the critical ingredient here is that we’re on the INTERNET and lord if there ever were a place to say whatever the hell you felt like saying, then its right here. Well, not right here right here. You know what I mean.
Its often remarked on that if people weren’t in a car they wouldn’t behave as they do while driving – that a person cutting another person off on foot is quite likely to turn around and mumble an apology, whereas a driver who cuts you off is just as likely to give you the bird as you are them. In cars we are all steel gladiators capable of running 100 mph. – on the internet we are all invincible.
Rick (aka Zombie Boy) seems like a nice enough guy. In part of the Bizarre interview he talks about how he’s become a much happier, nicer person since he started getting his tattoos and,
“You’ve got to respect that everyone’s different and has to do what they’ve got to do. I can’t tell you what to do, you can’t tell me what to do – but we can still get along just great. “
I was once interviewed for a friend’s documentary on breast augmentation (she was looking for opinions, not examples), to which I responded something along the lines of, “Whatever you’ve got to do to feel happy in your own body, you should do it. I would be hypocritical to say otherwise,” and then gestured at my tattoos. She kindly interjected a question something along the lines of “But what is ‘happy’? Don’t you think women who get breast implants are just trying to fit into some kind of ‘happiness’ enforced on them by society?”
The short answer is: no.
Humans are social creatures and visual creatures; it would be ignorant to say that the two aren’t linked. The fitter among us are often considered more attractive. But the brain is a fussy, weird, unpredictable thing and sometimes merely ensuring that we seem fit and attractive is low on the priority ladder. I am often asked if I regret being as tattooed as I am (usually by people who want tattoos and are stuck at the “what if I regret it?” stage) and I have so far honestly answered “Nope.” I try and explain to them that just as their mental image of themselves is probably close to their actual image, so is mine. I no more see myself as tattooless than I do armless or noseless. If I woke up tomorrow and didn’t have them, I’d freak out – for a lot of reasons – but one of them would be that in small way I’d not be Sunday anymore. My identity is not my tattoos, but part of my identity is my physical self, and part of my physical self is how I look. It reminds me of how often I’ve heard someone overweight remark how they see themselves in a photo or mirror and think, “Who is that fat person?”
This makes me feel that I understand how Rick feels, even if I don’t exactly agree with his execution: we are, in our minds, usually not who we are on the outside. If you could change that, make them match, wouldn’t you?
Original Neatorama post.
Bizarre Magazine article about Zombie Boy.
Answer for why that woman in pinching Zombie Boy’s nipple: unavailable.