Paper on “Ink Tattoos” | Eksamenssæt 29. maj 2015

Write a paper (700-1000 words) in which you answer the following questions.
Answer the questions separately.

1. Give an outline of the different views on ink tattoos presented in the texts.
2. How does Brendan O'Neill argue for his views in text 2? Give examples from the text.
3. Taking your starting point in text 3, discuss what ink tattoos signal in today's society.

Tattoos are more common and socially accepted than ever before. Many are giving in to the craze and turning their bodies into canvases, expressing themselves through the specific art form and having ink injected under their skin. The reasons vary as to why an individual chooses to go under the needle, though it is now not only those choosing to rebel against society who find it appealing. Weather it be applied purely as a fashion accessory or a personal reminder of something distinct, not everyone is as accepting of the decisions to modify the natural human body.

Brendan O’Neill’s blog post for The Telegraph, a British newspaper, titled “Tattoos were once a sign of rebellion – now they are evidence of craven conformity to cultural norms”, has a modernised view on the wide obsession with body art, specifically tattoos. He begins with an issue, which has recently caused drama in the town of Osaka, Japan, where the mayor as banned all people with visible tattoos from working for the city, after a man scared children at a welfare centre because of his excessive body art. As more and more people get tattoos, especially the younger generations, it is no longer a deviant action. “If a deviant is one who “departs from usual or accepted standards”, then it is the non-tattooed, the unbranded, who are exercising deviancy in the 21st century.” This is closely followed by his conclusion: “If it’s respectable, decent, conformist workers they want, then they should look to the tattooed, whose body art is evidence not of deviancy but of its opposite: a willingness to comply with cultural norms and to bow and scrape before social pressure.” Brendan O’Neill has respectable arguments as to why tattoos should no longer be discriminated against.


The main factor in Brendan O’Neill’s blog post for The Telegraph is that tattoos no longer symbolise an attempt by an individual to outcast themselves from society, but quite the opposite. Tattoos and body art have become the mainstream. A very controversial statement in his post: “To reject body art is to rebel.” – this highlights his opinion very efficiently, and he backs it up with an abundant arguments. He uses the word fascism, and practically calls the mayor of Osaka, Japan, a modern dictator, for not letting tattooed people work for the local government. By doing this, Brendan O’Neill emphasises that the amount of potential employees is dramatically decreased, because body art and modifications are so common in today’s society all over the world.

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