Words: Andrea Zanin
Illustration: Fleur Beech
Samantha Cameron has a tattoo. No really. Not the Samantha Cameron who is dating your neighbour and frequents metal gigs; nor the foul-mouthed Angelina Jolie look-alike (the one from Hackers, maybe Maleficent but NOT Mr & Mrs Smith) who sat next to you in English lit lectures blabbing on about the awesomeness of Lord Byron and anything written by a Brontë sister. Not the wannabe muso from Hackney who busks in Shoreditch to fund her fixed-gear bike and vintage fashion fetish. Not even the knife-wielding gangster girl you met at the bus stop with seven tongue piercings who, in spittle perforated annunciations, bragged about her 100-string kill list looking like she could rip out your eye with a single swipe. This would be comfortable – ink revealed, stereotype substantiated: A tattoo? Good for you! But no, we are not talking about those Samantha Camerons. We’re talking the Samantha Cameron; the Prime Minister of England’s wife.
So there is a strong chance you already knew this. It’s not new news, maybe it’s not even officially news, if you’re going to be persnickety about it. But it is the kind of news that makes you want to weep, and then cover your tattoo-covered arms. (Though obviously you have your’s done years back…)
Not that long ago, it was deviants who got inked; burly bikers, inglorious inmates, scurvy sailors, putrid punks and manky metalheads. It was something reserved for the uncouth, for degenerates. Tattoos said “Fuck You” to the dictates of the moral and ideological conformity imposed by social constructs. Individualists emphasised their resistance to societal norms by branding themselves as ‘other’. The obvious irony of groups united in their effort to emphasise the individual and his or her will over external determinants is a point overlooked by the conventions of cool. Even if the effort is philosophically flawed, cool is a character applied to those who buck the system. Cool people dare to go where others don’t. Cool people have tattoos. But the day that the UK’s first-lady-to-be sat down in a tattoo parlour and allowed a conglomeration of fine steel needles to puncture the skin of her ankle at roughly 150 beats per second (in the shape of a dolphin), cool careened into a vortex of has-been.
These days true anarchists are the religious-type zealots who preach from an old-school moral high ground, imposing absolute standards in a world governed by relativism
And she is not the only symbol of what has been lost. Rihanna, Cheryl Cole, David Beckham, Justin Bieber, Katie Price, Emma Watson, Little Mix, freaking ONE DIRECTION, have collectively commandeered a revolution against exclusivity. Society rebelled against its own average and what the Tahitians called “tatau” (meaning “to mark”) went from being an icon of subculture to a pop culture phenomenon. Consequently, tattoos have fallen under the slash-happy knife of Doctor Trend leaving anarchism floundering for a new weapon. But what is anarchism anyway, in a world in which everything is permissible and acceptable? Alan Moore, in his post-Apocalyptic Dystopia that forms the subject of graphic novel ‘V for Vendetta’ writes: “Authority, when first detecting chaos at its heels, will entertain the vilest schemes to save its orderly facade.”
Forget an individual act of insurgence pitted against the stifling aristocracy of a privileged upbringing (sucks to be rich), that treacherous little dolphin is really a vile plot to suffocate impending chaos with homogeneity of swanky symbols, swallows, and floral fiascos. Oh, it’s a sneaky plot… making anarchism un-cool. These days true anarchists are the religious-type zealots who preach from an old-school moral high ground, imposing absolute standards in a world governed by relativism. And who wants to be associated with this lot? A dog-collar is no tattoo. It would however be wise not count chickens; anything could be a ‘tattoo’ in the hands of Moore’s authority, if they so choose. And we so follow.