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TV Killed The Tattoo Star

By April 25, 2016 No Comments

Hello again dear reader and welcome to another tale from the naughty step. This month I’ve gone way beyond the call of duty to bring you my (largely irrelevant and definitely irreverent) opinion of this months elephant in the room. Tattoo TV…

It’s been all over social media this month (probably last month by the time you read this) and it even made it into the national (tory) rags. Artists up in arms and clients accusing, denying, and contradicting each other with tales of freezing cold garages dressed up as tattoo studios, free tattoo ‘gagging order’ bribes, botched tattoos, photoshopped work etc etc. So having never watched any of these shows before I decided to take a look.

Oh dear god, it’s far worse than I thought…

As I type I’m suffering my way through yet another hour of a ‘tattoos on ice that are a nightmare to fix in the jungle’ type show. I lost the will to live about 15 minutes ago and I’m currently considering carving my eyeballs out with a teaspoon to avoid watching anymore. The things I do for you, eh?

UK ‘Tattoo TV’ sucks balls, big time. But why? There’s loads of great content out there either on disk or on the web which is infinitely more watchable than the dirge that’s served up to us by the UK’S TV Channels. The problem – as I see it – is the format and the content of the shows. Oh and of course you. Yeah you, apparently you want to see this crap and if (as I suspect) you actually don’t want to see it, please I beg, you vote with your eyeballs people. Just turn off your television set and go and do something less boring instead (70’s TV reference – answers on a postcard). if the ratings of the shows drop – and they wont whilst everyone is ranting about it – they will just dissapear.

They (the TV chimps) think you want this shit. Partly because controversy creates viewers and partly  because the UK’s has long held a fascination for weekly doses of misfortune – providing that its all happening from a safe distance so we can happily take the piss over a cuppa and a hobnob.

I’m going to (for once) make my position on this clear from the outset. It all reminds me of the colosseum (no, I wasn’t there, I’m not quite that old – cheeky!). I have no interest in participating by watching any show where the weak are torn apart every week for our entertainment. There I said it, I hate reality TV and everything about it. I really hate that tattoos have been dragged into this particular human cesspit and I’d quite like to do something about it, but more on that later.

In the late 1800’s, the Victorian’s had “Freak-shows”. People who were classed as “different” to normal members of society were put on display, stripping them of their dignity and exploiting them for being the way they were. Freak-shows were outlawed in the 1900’s… but in 2000 the Freak-show made a return to our TV screens.

Big Brother (sort of) kicked off the reality TV format with a group made up of members of the pubic who were thrown in a house and watched – with morbid fascination – 24/7 by the nation. The term is called Schadenfreude – pleasure derived by someone from another person’s misfortune.

Even if you don’t watch television very much, you probably know that reality TV has – in the few short years since BB1 – taken over the airwaves and our lives. It’s dropped its trousers, crouched over our heads took a massive dump on us from a great height. We now live in a world that believes that being famous is the ultimate goal within our short time on this earth. A world obsessed with the idea of possessing luxuries that even 50 years ago only a few could afford. And why? Well, Maybe it’s because – along the way – we started to believe the bullshit fed to us by ‘TV Exec’ dickheads – men so full of shit they’re basically a bunch of bowels with haircuts…

If you want to see where our TV is headed, cast your mind back to when networks like MTV and VH1 were known for their quality music content. They switched to reality programming (real world anyone?) and well, that’s not the case anymore. That’s the quality impact that reality TV has on an entire station. It’s so shit it drags everything down with it. Maybe Reality TV really does cause an immediate decay in any society it directly impacts?

Faced with that question and the obvious “Why do people watch reality TV?” Scientists tried – for years – to find the answer. The early money in academic circles was on voyeurism. However, voyeurism implies that the people you’re watching don’t know they’re being watched. Then, two idealistic researchers decided to compare viewing behaviours and personality profiles using Aristotle’s model of the human soul. It was at this point that they discovered – to their horror – that the voyeur theory wasn’t too cynical. In fact, when it comes to why people watch reality TV, the theory equating the majority of humanity with lonely men masturbating wasn’t cynical enough. The adult fans of reality TV whose personalities they mapped ended up having pretty much all the worst traits possible. Also, the people who watched reality television had above-average trait motivation to feel self-important and, to a lesser extent, vindicated, friendly and free of morality.

Put simply – If each personality profile was a different Christian Bale character, Patrick Bateman would be the model reality TV viewer…

So, UK ‘Tattoo TV’ sucks. But does all Tattoo TV suck the big one? Well, no. There’s loads of great shows but they – almost always – are underfunded and underexposed. Mainly because they contain actual content and not a load of old cobblers. All of them are interesting, engaging and offer a great view of a cross-section of our fantastic art form. None of them exploit the art (or the artists) and you’ll probably never see any of them on UK TV.  And that is something that needs to change, so…

What if a bunch of artists, clients and skilled camera, lighting and sound people got together to reinvent the tired old reality show into something that was both entertaining and engaging for both artists and clients? What if this was done using new (social) media and not old media to allow fans to comment and request features of even to get involved? What if this had the backing of the entire industry and was something that everyone could be proud of? What if it showcased all talent as it emerges from the youngest promising apprentice to the oldest of the old school and celebrated how far we’ve come without ever having to pander to a script, an advertiser or a sponsor?

Sound good to you? Well it does to me. So good in fact that I’m trying to get it made. But i’m going to need some help. If you have experience in TV (I have a production company involved but may need more technical people from time to time) or just love filming conventions on your phone (user generated content will be one of the features of the show) and want to get involved get in touch! If you’re a tattooist and want to get interviewed, a studio owner who wouldn’t mind us filming in your place occasionally or an apprentice who wants to document your journey – get in touch! just email me: talesfromthenaughtystep@gmail.com and we’ll talk.

until next time



Do your eyeballs a favour, stop watching the shit forced on you by TV and take a look at these:

Gypsy Gentlemen – www.gypsygentleman.nl

Tattoo Age – www.vice.com/en_uk/series/tattoo-age

Tattoo Nation – www.tattoonation.com

Sullen TV – www.youtube.com/user/SullenTv

TattooNowTV – http://tattoonowtv.com


***** BOX OUT *********