Nothing tough about tattoo-branded attention seekers
A lot of ink adorns the Australia cricket team which is being described as a national disgrace
A dejected Michael Clarke, Australian captain, walks out for the presentation after day five of the first Ashes Test match between England and Australia. Photograph: Gareth Copley/Getty Images
Tattoos! Why? An expression of individuality? Hardly. It’s impossible to go anywhere without being ubiquitously treated to acres of flabby pseudo-Kanji, rolls of barb wire, and wrinkly marine life. In fact it’s weirder now to be ink-free than to have some 20 per cent off “stars” mankily ascending your shoulder blade.
So, really, why tattoos? They’re hardly a colourful “two fingers” to a repressive world anymore. In fact, it’s doubtful if they ever have been about that. In reality, apart from the obvious narcissism involved, tattoos are fundamentally about what the world thinks, and what you want the world to think of you in return for going all “Grumpy Cat” on your arse.
If women get inked to be a little, oh I don’t know, “CRAZY”, men’s motivation where tattoos are concerned is usually more straightforward. Ink makes you hard.
Not in any obviously macho Love/Hate way. In fact there’s nothing metrosexual man appreciates more than a tasteful touch of peccy Sanskrit. But ink still suggests a don’t mess with me vibe that clashes with the blatant insecurity behind getting it done in the first place.
There are lots of tattoos on the Australian cricket team which is being described as a national disgrace ahead of a potentially decisive third Ashes Test that starts on Thursday. England’s success in the first two indicates a rapid slide in Aussie effectiveness that makes this week’s action potentially nuclear on the national sporting consciousness down under.
In a country that defines itself through sport like no other – and especially sport against England – cricket fundamentally matters to Aussies. And if losing to the Poms is unacceptable, then going down to them without a fight is disgrace.
It’s in this context that the Tat quota among the team has become a matter of public debate. Rod Marsh, one of the stalwarts of Aussie teams in the 1970s and 1980s has queried how a bloke – Michael Clarke – can captain Australia with tattoos. Mitchell Johnson’s propensity for discussing his “cherry blossom” patterns has been even noted by non-Aussies.
Now if that reeks of the realm of last resort in terms of blame, and an ancient mindset that tended to believe only sailors and gangsters got inked, there is a deeper subtext to all this.
Australians might put up with many things – much of our young population for example – but a lack of sporting grit is not one of them and beleaguered as they might be, if the Aussie team don’t fight this week, and are seen not to fight, then really those return tickets can be cashed in. Losing is one thing. Humiliation is another. And the Poms are starting to laugh.