Jack the Ripper Portrait

There’s no denying that this Jack the Ripper tattoo by Tom Brudvik at Let’s Buzz at Bergen, Norway is great work, but I’ll again ask the question: if it’s “socially acceptable” to get tattoos of serial killers, which very clearly represent humanity gone wrong (not that I’m opposed to sociopathy… just saying that’s what it is), why are people opposed to things like tattoos of Hitler and other subjects that push the boundaries of what we find acceptable behavior? Is it a matter of scale? Is generalized bigotry worse than specific torture and killing of women? I wonder… not that torture porn isn’t pop culture these days.

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About Shannon Larratt

Shannon Larratt is the founder of BME (1994) and its former editor and publisher. After a four year hiatus between 2008 and 2012, Shannon is back adding his commentary to ModBlog. It should be noted that any comments in these entries are the opinion of Shannon Larratt and may or may not be shared by BMEzine.com LLC or the other staff or members of BME. Entry text Copyright © Shannon Larratt. Reproduced under license by BMEzine.com LLC. Pictures may be copyright to their respective owners. You can also find Shannon at Zentastic or on Facebook.

47 thoughts on “Jack the Ripper Portrait

  1. I think this has to do with the persons ethics really. Just because you don’t believe its right. Doesn’t mean other people won’t. I’m not talking about the killing people part, but more the tattoo part. I know myself plan on getting a Vlad the Impaler tattoo in the near future. For me my fasionation isn’t with the killing, its more what goes on in the persons mind..

  2. Timescale is an important factor. Having people alive who vividly remember the holocaust tends to influence opinion.

    Whereas nobody is alive who remembers (or indeed expects) the Spanish Inquisition so Torquemada remains ok.

  3. Hitler had others do his killing for him. Maybe people who do the killing themselves are cool? Of course, Manson had others doing his dirty work for him….and he’s on more t-shirts than El Che.


    Hitler was an authority figure. Maybe that’s why everyone hates him, whereas serial killers usually work on their own or with a partner and are completely anti-establishment. Which, in turn, makes them cool?

  4. The tattoo as a portrait is amazing. The subject matter is of individual taste. A person would never venture out of the house if he/she were concerned about not offending anyone.

  5. To me ? Perfectly so. I had to Wiki them up. To the family of those they murdered probably not so.

    Out of interest why would you want a serial killer tattoo ?

    Do you remember the scene in Natural Born Killers where the kids are hailing Mickey & Malory but not quite sure why and end up looking everso sheepish?

    I used to find people like Manson, Crowley, Hindley, Dahmer, etc fascinating from a psychological perspective but glorifying their image is an odd sentiment.

  6. Ok, The first thing that comes to mind when everyone is questioning how acceptable this behavior is: Yesterday a picture of a man with his testicle bulging out of his sack was posted….Often we see pictures on here or what most (I’m not saying me, we are talking about whats socially acceptable) people would consdier mutilation. How is this worse? And dont come at me with the whole “Well tattoos are visible to everyone.” People submit photos to Shannon of there gentials all mashed up so that they can be posted for the world to see also. I guess I just dont get how this is so offensive and horrid. I’ve always personally wanted a sleeve of all serial killers (Which will be started in fall) and I collect american based serial killer memoriblia.. I own several Gacy painting and many Mullins works of art as well. I own alot of signatures, art, ect in my home office and couldnt be happier about it. Im a full time mod artist, a nursing and psych major. I’m a normal person… I dont see anything wrong with being fasinated with the under belly of our world.

  7. I’m really fascinated with serial killers’ minds and how they work, but I agree with Giles on this one.

  8. I guess the difference between “standard” serial killer tattoos and hitler (or everything else of 3rd reich nazi stuff) is the fact that people like jack the ripper didn’t plant the seed for a ideology of pure hatred that still takes lifes and injures people today.

  9. Points all taken, and I understand that Jack the Ripper in particular is a source of fascination for many people because of the mystery surrounding him (or them, as some have suggested), but one still has to wonder about a person who chooses to celebrate a figure known for butchering women.

    In other words, all those scary clown (and similar) tattoos are still violent images, but they’re not connected with real acts of violence against real people, as are Hitler, Jack the Ripper, and others.

  10. I say live and let live, each artist makes their own decisions on what they will ink just like the client will decide what they want to get inked. Theres an artist for every taste nowadays. We all know the saying ” one mans meat is another mans poison ” I agree timescale does come into it alot but with time everything is subject to change, maybe in 50 years time Hitler won’t be such a taboo. Having these tattoos doesn’t necessarily mean the client is glorifying these people though, there could be a number of reasons for the designs. We all have our own fascinations of various subjects and we probably wouldn’t all agree on each others tastes but thats what makes life so interesting and precious.

  11. Perhaps I am playing the devils advocate here, But I ask is the person that willing filets there balls any less ‘sick’ than a person who tattoos a serial killer on themselves? I think most people would assume someone willingly mutilating themselves (much less there genitals) would need help (a doctor, a psychologist, ect). I personally certainly don’t glorify what gacy, the ripper, mullins have done by collect their art or memorabilla. Not talking about, or looking at what history presents us with doesnt change what happen or prevent what is going to happen.

  12. Even though Jack the ripper probably isn’t responsible for instigating violence today, one could argue that the same ‘ideology’ he adhered to still lives on in different forms through different killers in modern times. The ‘serial killer’ is not a legendary figure that ceased to be after the time of Jack the ripper. Obviously, the impact that Hitler had was far more terrible and pervasive than the acts of one serial killer, and Hitler is more easily recognizable than most serial killers.
    But I think Shannon brought up an excellent point, as did exploding boy, since the same sort of violence has continued:

    “but one still has to wonder about a person who chooses to celebrate a figure known for butchering women.”

    I wonder that myself, as much as I wondered why my ex had Womans Hater’s Club tattooed on his arm. Everyone should have the right to do what they please with their bodies, and denying them this right is not going to change the worldview that moved them to modify themselves in the first place. He could have treated me worse, but he certainly didn’t treat me very well either. I never minded the tattoo, but after how he treated me I think I’ll be avoiding anyone else with the same tattoo from now on.

    -That being said- I don’t disapprove of any of the tattoos mentioned above; no one is going to force me to get one or associate with the people that have them.
    -Also, subject matter aside, its an intersting tattoo, and I like the details on his knuckles.

  13. Maybe you can’t really apply this argument to Jack the Ripper so much, with there being no definate conviction it just seems to be more illustrations of him than an actual portrait which sometimes seems less.. immoral. If you get my point?
    Moral debates aside, it is an amazing tattoo. Really, really impressive. Maybe it’s meant as a reference to the Smiths song rather than the serial killer..? ;) Just a guess?

  14. Sarah has a good point. I agree with that statement. People like Hitler, and Osama bin Laden represent more then just heinous acts against humanity. They created and popularized an idealogy of hatred and violence. Although Jack the Ripper did murder women, he didn’t rally and manipulate people to follow and believe his cause.

    To me, it also seems like Jack the Ripper is a cartoon character. And it even looks as though the tattoo depicts him in a somewhat comic book style.

    Now, if this were to be, as you mentioned, a detailed portrait of Hitler, or even someone like Ted Kaczynski, the message is totally different.

  15. I know someone with a Barney tattoo. I think that’s a lot more evil then having Hitler on your belly…

  16. Is having a serial killer portrait tattoo really socially acceptable?

    Might have something to do with recognition. I’d say most people don’t know what the well-known serial killers even looks like. I mean, that doesn’t even look like William Gull! ;)…

  17. Honestly, I don’t see a difference in tattooing the portrait of a real life serial killer, and a horror movie character. Would it raise so much controversy if Shannon posted a pic of my sleeve that features Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees, Leatherface, etc? These character slaughter endless people in VERY violent ways on the big screen, for impressionable children to see. Is that socially acceptable? I’ve never had an ugly word said abouth those, so what makes Jack the Ripper any different?

  18. I think it’s the difference between supporting an individual vs. and ideal. A tattoo of Hitler can (and usually does) indicate a belief in a certain ideology, namely heinous and violent racism.

    A tattoo of Jack the Ripper, otoh, could stand for any number of things up to and including the support of slaughtering women. But it could also be an artistic statement or any number of other things.

    So a portrait of a serial killer at least contains the *option* of different readings, where a portrait of Hitler pretty much only means one thing.

  19. I don’t think either should be socially acceptable to be honest. Hitler killed millions that he never saw. Jack the Ripper knew each of his victims. Both ended lives and cause a great deal of suffering for those that new the victims. Both to me are disgusting and I wouldn’t want to associate with anyone who chose to wear their images. It’s all cool and hardcore right now. I wonder how this person would feel if someone he knew was killed.

  20. I believe that if it were a made up character in a movie who played a good role, it would still be the same. Supporting murder or not supporting murder. These people have all killed innocent victims. Having them immortalized on your body as iconic figures that have shaped history seems a bit poor in taste, and morally wrong. Although the art work has been done very well, I think immortalizing the victims with tasteful portraits of them while they were living would bring a much more positive discussion when asked who they where to the person wearing them. I guess what makes our country so diverse is the freedom of choice and speech. I can’t decide what is right for others, but I can suggest what I think and hope for a positive change in others.

  21. I guess hatred, rape, mutilation and murder of women is so common in the media and has become such an integral part of our culture, that images of those who perpetrate it, and the cult of adoration that follows, is expected. People are used to images that reference dead and damaged women.
    Whereas Nazi ideology is still taboo.
    Having said that, I don’t have a problem with this person (or any person) gettin a tatt of a serial killer/rapist on them.

  22. I have an unnatural fear of him… I can’t even type out his name because that’s too scary. I also fear bad wigs. This is the scariest blog entry ever. You should have made it a click through. ;)

  23. DragoBloodlust: the difference is that the characters you name are fictional, and so is the violence they perpetrate. The acts perpetrated by Jack the Ripper et al are acts of real violence on real people.

    As an analogy, consider a fictional child molester vs. a real one. Which is more repugnant? Which is more harmful?

  24. “One day men will look back and say I gave birth to the 20th Century” – Jack the Ripper

  25. Just out of interest, had Jack the Ripper chose to only kill Blacks (instead of only women) would any of our attitudes towards this tattoo change?

    Is celebrating the murder of women somehow more acceptable than celebrating the murderer of other minorities?


  26. okay…sarah…….you are absolutely 100% right dude. jack the ripper was a single person who was about themself and not about an idea. we don’t know why he did it. hitler created a thought for others to believe. jack did it for himself. so hitler is a motherfucker. jack was just crazy. if you think about it, it’s not entirely a sound theory, but jack was a bme freak. it just required other peoples bodies.

  27. I’m just wondering how long it’ll be before someone appears on Mod Blog with a Brady/Hindley tattoo…I mean her mugshot is particularly famous here in England. Only a matter of time I guess.

  28. There’s no denying that this is a very well-done tattoo, but the subject matter disturbs me. I guess, as many others have said, I just can’t understand why you would choose to immortalise a murderer on your body. The things Jack the Ripper did to women were utterly abhorrent; why would you choose to commemorate such a man?

    I will always defend people’s right to do what they choose with their bodies, but I can’t understand the intention behind this tattoo.

  29. I suppose there would be an arguement around a tattoo of, say, the Enola Gay. Some people would see an inking of a vintage airplane. Others would see a racial statement about wiping out a particular race (Japansese), a pro-war statement in general (and perhaps link it somehow to todays war)…whatever’s on that observer’s mind.

    Perhaps it’s nothing more than the mystery and myth surrounding Jack the Ripper.

    Having an old school tattoo of PT Barnum Circus logo doesn’t have to mean you’re glorifying the exploitation of handicapped individuals who were part of the early circus.

  30. It’s a fascinating subject. Technically it is just an image, symbolically it represents a murderer.

    Technically a ‘Nazi’ swastika is just a symbol however its association is what causes the hurt.

    How did patriotic Americans feel when they saw the Trade Center tattoo several months back ?

    I love symbolism and the arguments surrounding them. Tattooed symbolism goes that extra bit further as it creates a (mostly) permanent gesture.

  31. “Having an old school tattoo of PT Barnum Circus logo doesn’t have to mean you’re glorifying the exploitation of handicapped individuals who were part of the early circus.”

    True enough, but there are other, positive images that are associated with circuses: happiness, wonder, amazement, beauty, skill… What’s positive about Jack the Ripper?

  32. Oh my god, a Karla Homolka and Paul Bernardo tattoo. Proof that being removed from a situation can make outlandish remarks like this one seem “okay.” I would spit on someone with such a tattoo, namely because dear Karla lives in my fair city. Sure, she’s done her time, blah blah blah, she was abused by her husband, la la la, but she sat by and watched women including her own sister get raped and murdered. “Cool!” some serial killer enthusiasts might say. “What a kinky bitch!” Now think of the reality of the situation: sitting by with the video camera rolling in some musty basement while your husband grunts over his unconcious victim. Yes, somebody PLEASE get a tattoo to commend this occasion.

    Also, a Jack the Ripper tattoo might seem okay because so much about him is mythical and mysterious, and he lived a century ago, but it seems comparable to getting a Robert Picton tattoo and that to me would be the height of vulgarity. Give me cut up nutsacks any day over this.

  33. Kill one guy you’re a killer, kill 10 guys you’re a serial killer, kill a 100,000 and you’re a war hero

  34. Serial killers are like rock stars – rebellious, mysterious, sexy loners… Whereas dictators are more like record label execs- they represent the worst face of The Man. It’s the same way you get street cred for armed robbery, but not for embezzlement. It’s all about scale, homes.

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