Why do people perceive tattoos as being dangerous, dirty, and generally belonging to a class of “undesirables?” It could be because people cannot live in a world without narration and stories. Since the dawn of mankind stories have been developed both through natural happenings and casual relations, as well as constructed through characters, themes, language and the meaning of words. The story of tattoos as well as countless others are narratives that have been developed and passed down through the generations without much revision. Walter Fisher once wrote that, “..narratives are fundamental to communication and provide structure for human experience and influence people to share common explanations and understandings.”(pg. 58), which could perfectly explain why tattoos have had a bad rap for centuries. Similarly Kenneth Burke wrote that “..a similarity is taken as evidence of an identity.” when writing about how the world is defined through nothing but a vast array of symbols that people have attributed meaning to. Narratives, themes, characters, and symbols through the years, as they are shared among the public, are the reasons why tattoos are seen as anything but beautiful and non-threatening.
Questions that arise as a result of the above mentioned discovery are philosophic ones, because they propose hypothetical changes in the way society acts and lives. Is it possible to change public’s opinion on tattoos? If so, how would one go about that? Would tattoos become more admirable, perhaps even regarded as an art form if they were accepted into public? To answer some of these questions it is necessary to critique the narrative of tattoos. To do that though, some preliminary attributes have to be categorized.
To start, every narrative needs a set of characters, a plot, a setting, and a narrator [at a minimum], or a “situation Model” as stated by Fisher. Every story should also fall into the category of “Good Reason” based on probability and fidelity; both of which describe the theory of how people rationalize a story. In the case of tattoos the character could be any tattooed individual. A believable plot would be the everyday occurrence of the character (the tattooed person) sharing an environment with a non-tattooed person. In this plot example the tattooed person makes contact with the non-tattooed person and attempts to carry on an ordinary, friendly conversation - something probably along the lines of, “It’s a nice day isn’t it?” while the non-tattooed person is trying their best to avoid the conversation because they believe the tattooed individual to be one of low-morale. The setting for this interaction could be anywhere. For this example, it’s the grocery check-out line. The narrator is the general public, and by general it is inferred that society is anti-tattoo.
Now that Fisher’s Situation Model has been developed, good reason can be addressed. Tattoos have long been regarded as a symbol of rebellion and shady morale dating as...