Tattoo Blog

Art that adorns the flesh…

LA (st)Ink

August 12th, 2010 by

I’m not a big fan of TV and I’m even less of a fan of reality TV, but I do have to admit that I have watched the odd episode of Miami Ink back when Miami Ink was on the air and then in 2007, when LA Ink spun off and created a whole new mainstream appreciation of tattoo, I gave in and watched.

Initially, the idea of a reality TV show where people get to see the daily ins and outs of a high profile tattoo artist and her shop full of what some might argue was the closest thing to tattoo royalty in one place: Kim Saigh, Kat Von D, Corey Miller and Hannah Aitchison, was cool.  It helped a great deal to show people that tattoo studios weren’t dingy little crack dens hidden away in back alleys.  It gave credibility to the craft of tattoo and respect to the artists who practiced it.  It showed people that everyone has their own personal reason for getting a tattoo and that tattoos aren’t just cheap flash chosen on a whim.  Of course, anyone who had been either tattooed or involved in the tattoo industry for any matter of time already knew all of this and so much more.  Still, in many ways, LA Ink wasn’t for the industry hardcores.  LA Ink was for the uninitiated, the curious, the tattoo virgins.

All right, let’s be fair here: LA Ink was never a masterful work of broadcasting.  Watching Corey Miller hem and haw over whether or not to get a vasectomy back in season 1 was far from enlightening.  Still, during those early years, LA Ink had some heart – it still wanted to be about great tattoos and the artists who do them.  But if last year’s season of LA Ink proved one thing, it was that there is very little “reality” left in the reality television of LA Ink.  Choppy cutting, mismatched audio blurbs and constant phony scenarios gave LA Ink all the relevance and intensity of a temporary tattoo.

The biggest mistake this show has made however, is cutting back on the actual tattoo work in favour of focusing on a ridiculous soap opera style, in which a series of minor conflicts are blown entirely out of proportion in the hopes of achieving interesting television.  The end result is one big giant failure on too many levels to even begin to count.

Tonight was the start of LA Ink’s fourth season and okay, I admit it, I watched it.  I wanted to see if this season would be any better than the crap that was fed to us last season.  The verdict?  No, this is still the same, stale old stuff that should have ended about 2 seasons ago.  It’s odd that this is only the fourth season of LA Ink.  It feels as though it’s been around for much longer – and I don’t mean that in a good way.  Anyway, this season sees Corey Miller leaving High Voltage tattoo once and for all, leaving Kat as the only original cast member still on the show.  Miller seemed genuinely flustered about the working relationship that he has with Kat and something tells me that all the Hollywooding up of LA Ink just isn’t him.  Despite his unquestionable skill as a tattoo artist, he’s just too good to be wasting his time in the world of “reality” phoniness.  He’s an artist, not a soap-opera star.

In the end, LA Ink seems to be little more than the Kat Von D show.  Kat is a brilliant artist and a savvy businesswoman, but as far is this show is concerned, I think we all know that no matter what, she’s going to go down with the ship and it ain’t going to be pretty.  Which is too bad really, because it was an interesting experiment: could tattoos work on TV?  I think we glimpsed the answer several years back when the show was in its infancy.  Yes, most definitely they could.  Is LA Ink about tattoos and tattoo artists?  Unfortunately, no, it really isn’t, which is just too bad.

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