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Max Barry wrote the novels Syrup, Jennifer Government, Company, Machine Man, and Lexicon. He also created the game NationStates and once found a sock full of pennies.

Blog

Thu 17
Aug
2006

It gets worse

What Max Reckons At first I thought that people tattooing themselves with logos might represent a cultural bottoming-out; a sign that we had reached the flattest part of our ongoing subjugation to corporations. But now I realize you can sink lower: you can tattoo yourself with a stupid logo.

I guess it makes sense; if you’re the kind of person who thinks it’s a good idea to imprint your body with a company’s logo, you’re probably not that discerning about which logo you choose. Or about anything, really. I offer into evidence the choice of Peter McBride, who is the proud new owner of a Polo pony logo just above his left nipple.

Now, I don’t want to come right out and say that Pete is the low point of human civilization—I mean, there was Hitler. But looking at that photo… gee, it’s a tough call.

Apparently Pete made his choice while waiting in line at the tattoo parlor. This reinforces my belief that it’s always a mistake to try to execute a plan before you’ve thought of one. I mean, if Pete had woken one morning and thought, “Yes, I want to create permament, physical evidence that I’m so desperate to find an identity that I’m willing to suck at the watery brand image run-off of P.R. companies and marketing consultants,” that would be one thing. A disturbing thing, sure. But at least you could admire the fact that he had a vision and carried it out. But that is not what Pete did. Pete decided, “I want to permanently mark my skin with… oh, whatever. I’ll think of something when I get there.”

According to the article, logo tattoos are getting more popular. And “requests range from Chanel and Gucci to Windows and PlayStation.”

Chanel and Gucci I understand, even if it’s a little like calling your daughter Porsche. But PlayStation? If you’re getting a logo tattoo, don’t you perhaps want to avoid products that will be obsolete this time next year? And Windows! Windows, the McDonald’s of technology! Why not just tattoo “I don’t know that much about computers” on yourself? Any self-respecting computer geek who saw someone with a Windows tattoo would fall about laughing. And then punch them in the face. Which is really saying something, because we are not a violent people.

At least the end of the article offers a glimmer of hope:

A tattoo artist who goes only by the name Ennis says a man recently came in with a Lacoste crocodile on his neck. “He wanted it off,” says Ennis. “He didn’t say why. He just said get rid of it.”

Comments

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Machine Man subscriber Max

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Quote: "I'm my number one fan!"
Posted: 2799 days ago

Thanks to Jeff and Cory for pointing me at this one.

Jeff T. (#2591)

Location: USA
Quote: ""WHO ARE YOU?!""
Posted: 2799 days ago

I concur. =)

Machine Man subscriber Mapuche (#1184)

Location: Darwin, Australia
Quote: "Inconceivable!"
Posted: 2799 days ago

A comment before the e-mail - how novel....

I want a tattoo of my wife's name in Thai script... (well, she is Thai so it sorta makes sense).

Maarten Rütten (#2420)

Location: the Netherlands
Quote: "We're not going to have a giant beach ball crush New York. It's creative, but it's not going to sell product."
Posted: 2799 days ago

Windows, the McDonald's of technology. Well said.

What about the people that have tattoos of Linux penguins? Of course "Linux" is no corporation. :)

thewylddream (#1191)

Location: Montana USA
Quote: ""Always forgive your enemies -- Nothing annoys them so much." ~Oscar Wilde~"
Posted: 2799 days ago

*sigh* Truly these are the end times... I hope. Gods people are stupid.

Chris McBride (#1977)

Location: Belfast, N.Ireland
Quote: "Plagiarism saves thinking time"
Posted: 2799 days ago

Ah Pete, you put the rest of us McBrides to shame...

Hobbie (#1359)

Location: Cornwall, England
Quote: "There was a little man in his hair!"
Posted: 2799 days ago

Some people are just too stupid to be allowed to procreate. It should be mandatory... enforced vasectomy with every pony tattoo.

Cory Lavalette (#52)

Location: Raleigh, N.C., USA
Quote: ""When Will Jesus Bring The Pork Chops?""
Posted: 2798 days ago

Welcome, Max ... thanks for your take.

Jeffrey (#2286)

Location: Right here
Quote: "Mathematics is a powerful language. Just look at how mathematicians destroyed the housing market."
Posted: 2798 days ago

Jeffs are always doing great things. I loved the Windows bit.

Mike Becker (#2488)

Location: Las Vegas
Quote: "Aristotle said it best: "society is a house, change is a tornado full of woodpeckers.""
Posted: 2798 days ago

If you're gonna get a corporate technology tatoo, at least get an Apple or something..I mean really..WINDOWS?

Yenzo (#829)

Location: Secret underwater pyramid base in the Pacific
Quote: "In order to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe (Carl Sagan)"
Posted: 2798 days ago

On the other hand... now that guy only needs to wear a white shirt and it'll always look like a polo-brand shirt, so he won't ever have to buy another one of those again.

So maybe this whole thing is actually working AGAINST the brand. I'm a little confused. %-)

Anita Heiney (#292)

Location: Richmond, VA USA
Quote: "I came. I signed up. I got an error."
Posted: 2798 days ago

But, what about if you did this a long time ago (during your college days) WAY before anyone else was doing it? Even before you had read Jennifer Gov't?? Okay, Okay, I did it. But at least I did have a good reason. I didn't just go in on a whim and pick out any old logo.

Back in the DAY, I played a lot of beach volleyball. And, when I won my first money tournament, I wanted to do/get something with the money so I would always remember that I won $$ playing volleyball. At that time, IDIG sportswear was big and their logo was a hot pink volleyball with sunglasses. So, yes, I had a hot pink volleyball with sunglasses tattooed on my ass. Yes, it's still there and yes, I still like it. I always wondering if that could be copyright infringement or if they would be a sponsor ...

And Hobbie, rest assured I have not and do not plan to procreate.

Christian (#2192)

Location: Calgary, Canada
Quote: "If being a nerd was baseball, I'd be starting quarterback!"
Posted: 2798 days ago

I think I'm gonna go out right now and get a viagra pill tatooed to my nether regions.

I'll be the coolest kid in school!

Adam A. (#256)

Location: Phoenix, Arizona
Quote: "Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that." -George Carlin"
Posted: 2798 days ago

We truly are The United Corporations of America.

Caroline (#1667)

Location: www.freewebs.com/davidorth
Quote: "Does the Walker Choose the Path, or the Path the Walker?"
Posted: 2798 days ago

God, why do people do stuff like that? Tattos are fine, they are a great way to show off your personality, but to get the Polo brand tattooed on you is stupid. That just screams desperation and someone so stuck up, they have to get Polo tattooed on them...

God made stupid people and I hate that. Why, God, why?

David (#1848)

Location: Texas
Quote: "Delighted!"
Posted: 2798 days ago

I am now thinking of having the Panama Jack logo tattooed up and down each arm. Maybe not...I miss my youth, but not THAT much.

But I can't buy the argument that some tats make "sense" while others are stupid. As if some "tribal" thingy is less ridiculous on a suburbanite than a polo pony. I'm all for volleyballs on asses, Ms. Heiney, but for entirely different reasons...

Monkeywright (#1732)

Location: Los Angeles, Californi-YARGH!
Quote: ""China is Here?" I don't even know what the hell that means! - PS - visit scenic www.monkeywright.com"
Posted: 2798 days ago

First things first, what if someone wanted a tattoo of the Jennifer Government cov--

Actually hold on. Can we post a pic of the volleyball booty tattoo? I gotta see this. I think we should post a pic of it every five years to see the effects of aging. Will it inflate? Deflate? Look like Wilson from "Castaway"?

Anyway,
What if someone wanted a logo from a Max Barry book cover? Isn't it equally weird? I think tattoos are a very strange phenomenon (and I have seven myself). It's all abour personality, and frankly, I wish people who thought about getting Windows or Polo logos inked would do it proudly and frequently. That way, I know what kind of person I'm dealing with before they say a word.

Rod McBride (#688)

Location: Gardner, KS
Quote: "www.MidwestRockLobster.blogspot.com"
Posted: 2798 days ago

Funny, I'm the opposite of Pete. I wanted a tattoo since I was old enough to know what they were. But I couldn't figure what to get.

At 36, if you don't know, you'll never know, right? So I got a logo. My logo. I've been using it for going on two decades, and the idea goes the best part of another decade back. If there is a graphic representation of 'me' this is it.

It seems like being unmarked has become the mark of distinction, so imagine my surprise when family and friends reacted with horror that I would get my buckaroo lobster tattoo...

For Pete, what if you want to wear an Izod on Wednesday?

Lazlo (#2492)

Location: Indiana
Posted: 2797 days ago

I just read about someone with an IZOD gator tattoo, in the same location, in The Name of the World by Denis Johnson. What's the point of me posting this? Nothing... I'm just whoring a good book, I reckon.

KaelSeoras (#2580)

Posted: 2797 days ago

omg...that's just...ugh, WHY?! Seriously it's not even flattering or anything.

austin (#2462)

Location: rhode island
Quote: "hmmm...bleh..."
Posted: 2797 days ago

You know Max, you wouldn't think that way if I got a picture of you tattooed on meh...well maybe you would...

Emily (#609)

Location: New York
Quote: "When in doubt, fuck it. When not in doubt, get in doubt!"
Posted: 2796 days ago

Ye gods, humanity!

Emily (#609)

Location: New York
Quote: "When in doubt, fuck it. When not in doubt, get in doubt!"
Posted: 2796 days ago

An afterthought:

I bet Blake Seddon has the Zephyr Holdings logo tattooed on his ass.

Yubi Shines (#1664)

Location: Canada
Quote: "HOPE RIDES ALONE!"
Posted: 2792 days ago

Rod McBride - I like that idea, designing your own icon. I'm going to consider that if I ever do want a tattoo.

Personally I just have to wonder if it hurts to be tattooed in the nipply region...

Kit (#850)

Location: UK
Posted: 2784 days ago

"Is this a good time to tell you I'm getting the jennifer government barcode tattoo'd to my arse?" That's the joke I was going to say before I read monkeywright and austin's posts.

There, I said it anyway.

Jarret Hayes (#2541)

Posted: 2778 days ago

Hey, to each his own...I have a fair amount of tattoos, and I say that if a person wants to get a Polo tattoo on their chest,or anywhere on their body, they go right ahead. Who are we to judge?

Thomas (#1221)

Location: Germany
Quote: "One more, and I'm going to consider you my penpal."
Posted: 2776 days ago

I know I'm almost a month late. I'm a slow reader, thankyouverymuch.

I'm also apparently not very aware of brands. That one is a 'Polo Pony'? I can't find anything horse-ish at all about that tatoo. Can someone explain the anatomy of that Pony to me?

I think it looks a lot more like am awfully skewed teletubby. Like Po had a veeery long night at a local pub, and is now on his way home.

Maybe that's how he ended up on that guys chest.

ryandake (#2199)

Location: scenic monterey, ca
Quote: ""The rest is not our business.""
Posted: 2755 days ago

hiya max,

here's one even you haven't thought up (or at least haven't written about): marketing to prisoners.

Ex-con musicians with a white power message are using a sales method pioneered by some black artists: promoting their album in prison.

at http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/news/la-et-prisonrap27sep27,1,796037.story?track=rss

Mickey Finn (#2595)

Location: Houston, TX, USA
Posted: 2742 days ago

And in a stroke of life imitating fiction, people are now naming their kids (first name, not last, but hey) after corps...more specifically, TV networks.

Pronounced "es-pen"

http://hello-baby-espn-father-names-son.freeonlinegames.com/

http://www.caller2.com/2001/april/04/today/localspo/22172.html

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/3268161.stm


Del Monty. Celica. Inifiti.

I used to work with a Velveeta Jones.

Thomas Miller (#2746)

Location: Spokane, Washington USA
Quote: "Your life may be scaled down and subject to copy right"
Posted: 2682 days ago

Well max, I'll have to hand it to you. You, unlike others, have relized that windows... to put it bluntly... sucks. In fact after seeing a preview of the new windows systems, I have relized that they all operate off the windows 98, they just look better that 98'....

ok i am done ranting...

Yep..

Thomas Miller

Thomas Miller (#2746)

Location: Spokane, Washington USA
Quote: "Your life may be scaled down and subject to copy right"
Posted: 2682 days ago

this be an after thought

wow..... i was late posting this.... ^.^

Carl (#2919)

Location: Bournemouth
Posted: 2637 days ago

Max,in regards to 'It gets worse' about corporate tatoos i may have a real life entrepreneur in my family.

My brother in law is a 6'3" skinhead with big branded numbers all over him and has...wait for it... a 6 x 6" tatoo of the CILIT BANG logo on the side of his head!

He contacted them and asked for sponsorship but for some reason they declined, Bless him.

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