#136 – Foreign Tattoos

3 05 2010

The bogan is an exotic tiger. One of its great grandparents was French, and it knows how to mispronounce “thank you” in Phuket language. It is also intensely desirous of being seen as mysterious. While its urgent conformity to sartorial, musical, linguistic, and social trends prevents it from cultivating any effective sense of mystique, the inventive and eclectic bogan has devised a solution. It will get a foreign language tattoo. Languages that use non-Roman alphabets are preferred, as they are more profound. And mysterious.

After an extended period of haggling, the bogan eventually locates the cheapest tattooist at Kuta Beach. It will shove a piece of paper at the tattooist, a printout from the internet café of the Chinese symbol for purity and honour. While non-bogans enthusiastically recount folkloric tales of Asian tattooists instead doing the symbol for “fuckwit”, the more common scenario is that the tattooist simply does a piss poor job of the requested piece. Not necessarily out of spite, but out of cheap materials, limited communication, and the safe knowledge that the colonial bogan will be on a plane by this time next week. Like thousands before it, the bogan jumps back on a 100cc scooter with an inky expanse of cling wrap covering its newly cryptic body part. It is now a tattooed gangster on a Harley.

For some bogans, the idea of permanently acknowledging the culture of someone who may not choose to speak English on the bogan’s body is simply too disturbing. Islamic script is elegant and flowing, but this prospect is even more mortifying. How, oh how, will the enigmatic bogan still convey its mystique? After studiously inspecting the arms and shoulders of its friends, the xenophobic bogan requests an embellished gothic font for its clumsy English language sloganeering. The over-haggled Balinese needlesmith is no better at this style at the $10 price point than it is at Japanese characters.

Not that the bogan minds. Countless other bogans have similarly shoddy foreign language tattoos, so the bar is set rather low in such circles. More important for the bogan, is the chance to puff their chest out and provide a self-indulgent explanation of the tattoo to anyone who enquires as to its meaning. Its cultural sermon complete, the bogan will then seamlessly segue into a racist comment relating to someone nearby.