Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Proof that celebrity doesn't buy one taste or even a decent tattoo.


jmcleod76 said...

Christina Ricci's little line drawing of a lion is fun, and whoever's purple smoky sleeve that is is kind of funky, too, though I wouldn't get it. But, yes, overall, dreadful stuff. What the hell is that strange script on Posh Spice? And, really, Angelina, "Know Your Rights"? Oy ...

TMC said...

I don't understand the appeal of the cross to non-religious people. It just looks goofy.

jmcleod76 said...

@TMC - The appeal of Christian iconography seems to be somewhat universal in the U.S. Unless they've got another religious identity, or have completely rejected Christianity for some reason (because they're firm atheists, or have a troubled relationship with the church of their youth), most people seem to find comfort in Christian symbols. I always found that puzzling, myself. I used to be a very committed Christian -fanatical to some degree, but not in the same ways as many American Evangelicals. My family thought my devotion was weird. With the exception of weddings and funerals, none of them have set foot in a church in decades. Yet, my sister wore a cross all the time in her early 20s, and insisted on having her daughter baptized (she even lied about her church attendance habits to the only minister in my parents' town so that he would agree to do the service). Though she's since taken it down, my mother used to have a giant print of "Footprints" on her bedroom wall throughout my childhood (you know ... only one set of footprints in the sand when times were tough, and God says "those were the times I carried you"). My mom doesn't eat meat on Good Friday, and she was never even Catholic! She just sees it as "what you're supposed to do." It always blew my mind, as a religious person, that people would still hold to those old habits when they clearly no longer meant anything to them. I remember that it offended me, because I saw it as a mockery of my beliefs and a cheapening of things I found sacred. Since I've left the church, and now that my really raw anger has abated (thank you, Buddhist practice), I understand the draw somewhat better. People have a natural inclination to seek the divine, even if they don't think of themselves as religious, and in our culture, "the divine" usually = Jesus.

In contrast to my former feelings as a Christian, I don't usually get that upset when Buddhist symbols are co-opted (except when it's obviously done out of the most tasteless commercial crassness). I'm usually happy to see garden Buddhas and prayer flags, even displayed by people who have no idea what they're for. I think the objects and symbols themselves offer a taste of of enlightened nature, even if that's not the intention behind their presence.

Probably more discussion than you wanted from your quick post on a quick blog entry about celebrity tattoos, but I think about this kind of stuff a lot.

Julie H. Rose said...

No, Jaime, I always love your analysis, and am glad to see you're back at it. I've missed your comments. Then again, there wasn't much to comment on for a month.

I tattooed A LOT of crosses when I was in the biz. After 9/11, the amount seemed to increase tremendously. I found that troubling.

As a person of Jewish heritage, I also sometimes find the dangling of crosses around the necks of so many to be a bit troubling, too, though I can't explain my feelings about this at all.

Some of it, perhaps, is that it reminds me of how much many people firmly believe this is a Christian nation. I am sickened by decisions made in the Supreme Court by those (Scalia, especially) who are supposed to be abiding by the separation of Church and State, yet continually make decisions based on religious beliefs.

I suppose I make decisions based on mine, too, but mine are inclusive, and therein lays the rub.

That cross, too, is a symbol of hate as much (or maybe more) than anything else. It originates in fear and punishment. It burnt while black people were hung from trees. It's shadow hung over Auschwitz. It blazed upon the chests of the torturers of the Inquisition. It dangles on the end of the rosaries pedophile priests wear. . .is this enough?

I do not hate Christianity. Not at all. Jesus had wonderful teachings. If only his followers all followed them.

jmcleod76 said...

It's interesting to hear the perspective of someone whose heritage is Jewish. Yes, I can definitely see how the cross would appear hateful and oppressive. I sometimes feel that way as a queer person, too, since God and the Bible are so often used to condemn me an prevent me from having equal rights. For yours, I couldn't even stand being told "God Bless You" (except when I sneezed). The very idea of the Christian version of God made my stomach turn.

But as a once devout Christian who (dare I admit this to my Buddhist friends?) often feels drawn back toward the faith in ways I can't really explain, I can also see beauty in it. It's the symbol of someone who believed so strongly in compassion, love, inclusiveness, and intimacy with the divine that he was willing to die rather than back down and be cowed by authority. This was a person whose refusal to let other people's ideas of "holiness" and "how things should be" dictate how he interacted with others was so threatening to people that they felt they needed to kill him (and no, it wasn't "the Jews," as a homogenous group, who were responsible; it was those in power, the George W. Bushes of the world). Whether or not you believe he came back from the dead is really beside the point. A life like that was undeniably one that was infused with the divine (or enlightened nature, whatever you want to call it). Had Shakyamuni lived in a different context, I suspect he would have been executed, too - ordaining women, insisting that untouchables were equal to other castes, denying the existence of the Self, opposing wars between powerful rulers, etc.

For those reasons, and despite the misuse of both Christianity and its central symbol by those who would promote an agenda of hate, I still (or once again) see it as a symbol of hope for humanity.

jmcleod76 said...

"For years" not "For yours."

Julie H. Rose said...

Heh, the one sentence blog post has the best comments! You really ought to blog, Jaime!

I understand what you say. I see Jesus the same way. The cross? I do not.