'All Pigs Must Die' read the tattoo on the bearded man's arm.
There has to be a sense of irony in that, right? Surely, this intimidatingly bearded and overweight man does not actually believe that all pigs must die. Has he seen Honey Boo Boo's pig? That thing is adorable. It probably poops even cuter pigs. Then again, his beard seems to indicate that 'cute' would be the first to go in his apocalypse, and Honey Boo Boo is not a thing he watches in between Faces of Death marathons. I told you, the beard is intimidating, and his fatness... well, it's the kind of fatness you'd find in a Roman coliseum, just before it wrestled a lion. Like SOLID, Christina Aguilera, fat. The tattoo just sort of adds to the whole impression. Clearly, this is a man who does not suffer fools or dub step, and God help you if you are a source of bacon. I understand he probably got that tattoo in part to celebrate his favorite heavy metal band, but then, I can't believe that was the only reason. He knew what he was doing.
You see, 'All Pigs Must Die' is a hilarious and great name for a heavy metal band, in the grand metal tradition of being so extreme, it's done with a wink and a nod. But the meaning adjusts when it gets put on a body. He put that tattoo on his arm for the same reason he grew a lumberjack's beard and put on thirty pounds of bear weight: it's a badass thing to do. At least, it used to be a badass thing to do. Now it's kind of... well...
When did tattoos become a defining reality of our generation? They're practically a rite of passage if you're under 30 and you live in a city. As a matter of fact, 36 percent of 18 - 25 year olds in the U.S. have tattoos. That's a staggering statistic. It's almost as shocking as the fact that 100 percent of girls named Hope, in that same age range, have a blog that melds commentary on fashion, food, puppies and celebrity gossip for less than three months.
And I get why: Despite our reputation for irony and cool aloofness, our generation is one that craves authenticity, no different from any before it. I believe our generation understands and embraces the inherent contradictions of life more than the out-of-touch hippies or ultra-serious gen-x'ers before us (i.e. art is important and paintings made using one's own feces are ridiculous) so attitudes and dress can reflect that reality. Tattoos are an extension of that -- a way for us to rectify to the world that we are thoughtful, emotional creatures, even as we put on headbands and paint our faces for a Grimes concert. Or -- as in the case of my bearded friend and the occasional gang bangers I run into -- super tough, in spite of the reality that we are not currently in jail. But these tattoos also stretch the spectrum we exist on -- from disaffected youth to earnest human -- to its snapping point. How is it that someone who ironically listens to yacht-rock can have William Blake quotes tattooed on his forearm? I guess it's a way, ultimately, to be the person we want to be, instead of the person we are.
So, somewhere between Lindsay Lohan getting Billy Joel lyrics on her ribs and my grandmother inking a screaming eagle across her back (one of these equally ridiculous examples is fake), the tattoo lost its cache in this workaday world. We are "exploding stars", a generation of "special and unique" and I believe in that feeling, it's great and human. I think a little delusion drives every great act in this world. But getting something you think is meaningful tattooed on your neck says only one thing to the world: "I feel things more." It's not an act of private catharsis, it's a public act of show. And in truth, you eat, poop, and die just like that dude who keeps smelling his fingers on the subway.
Maybe the people with the most heart aren't necessarily the ones who wear it -- literally -- on their sleeves. Maybe the tattoo is over. Maybe we should all get lip rings.
Jared Freid is a New York City-based comedian. follow him on Twitter @jtrain56 for videos, columns, and more thoughts on Honey Boo Boo's pet pig. You can check out his latest video from the Flugtag here.