ModBlog News of the Week: May 27th, 2011

This week’s news post is pretty small compared to the last news post.  However, there are a couple of stories this week that are pretty big, including a couple of follow-ups to stories that a lot of you have taken an interest in.

First up we’ve finally got an in-depth interview with Rick “Zombie Boy” Genest, the heavily modified Montrealler who has garnered a lot of attention over the past year.

Rick Genest, tattooed former squeegee kid, is posing for pictures and video on a patch of gravel by the tracks in Westmount. A young woman gets out of her car and runs over to congratulate him. She tells him she loves and admires what he has done.

Genest, also known as Zombie Boy, has become a local and international hero, a muse to fashion’s avant-garde, a role model for Lady Gaga. His claim to fame is his almost totally tattooed body, including a rendering of brains on his skull, the skeletal system on his body.

The past six months have been an incredible journey – Genest has walked the catwalks in Paris for Mugler, courtesy of creative director Nicola Formichetti; appeared in Lady Gaga’s Born This Way video; and travelled far, wide and often – New York, Paris, Milan, Budapest, Warsaw, Mexico City last weekend, with Rio and Copenhagen coming up on his agenda.

They cover a lot of ground in the interview, and there is a video portion as well, so if you’re a fan of Rick’s it’s definitely worth checking out.

More news to come, just hit the read more button to continue on…

Movie fans will be pleased to hear that The Hangover: Part 2 will still be debuting this weekend.  As you may recall, S. Victor Whitmill, the artist behind Mike Tyson’s facial tattoo requested an injunction to stop the film from being released on the grounds that the studio didn’t seek out his permission to use a likeness of the tattoo.  While the judge denied the motion for the injunction, she did leave the door open for Whitmill to peruse legal action against the studio.  The first time I brought this story up a lot of people chimed in, as this is probably one of the more high profile tattoo copyright cases to be presented.  ABC News and Tech Dirt both have stories up discussing how this could play out for both sides, and what it could mean for tattoo copyright in the future.

We just wrote about how the judge in the Hangover 2 Mike Tyson tattoo copyright case had said that she wouldn’t block the release of the movie, but would let the lawsuit proceed and indicated that the tattoo artist would likely prevail. I thought she just meant on proving the initial infringement, but other reports are saying that pretty clearly mocked Warner Bros.’ defenses, including fair use on the tattoo:

Judge Perry briefly discussed the defense’s claim of Fair Use, opining that there was no parody or transformative use, the entire tattoo in its original form was used (not in any parody form), the tattoo was not necessary to the basic plot of the movie, and that Warner Brothers used the tattoo substantially in its marketing of the movie.

This seems problematic for a bunch of reasons, but one part that troubles me (and we had some of this discussion in our comments) is whether or not the tattoo is parody. Frankly, I can’t see how it’s not parody. The reason that people claim that it’s not transformative or parody is that it’s an identical copy and thus isn’t parodying the original tattoo. But that seems entirely wrong. While it’s the tattoo itself that’s copyrighted, you have to look at the context of the tattoo — and in this case that includes the fact that it’s on Mike Tyson’s face. Putting it on Ed Helms’ character (in many ways the antithesis of Tyson’s character) is a clear parody of Tyson and his tattoo. I have trouble seeing how you could argue otherwise. If the point of the tattoo on Helms’ face wasn’t to parody the same tattoo on Tyson’s face, then what’s the joke here?

I’ll keep you updated as best I can whenever any new information is released.  As it stands now, both sides appear to have equal cases, so it’ll be up to a judge well versed in copyright law, as well as the wording of the contract that Tyson signed giving up the rights to the design.

Another story that received a lot of attention was that of Britney Campbell, the 8-year old whose mother was injecting Britney’s face with botox.  The injections, coupled with other treatments, like bikini waxes raised a number of concerns about Britney’s welfare.  Well it turns out those concerns didn’t go unanswered.  Shortly after bragging to the media about her questionable “beauty” techniques, Britney’s mom lost custody of her daughter when child protective services paid them a visit.

We first told you about the Campbells in March and “GMA” covered their story last week. In a sit-down interview, Spencer asked Britney questions worthy of a horrifying “Law & Order: SVU” episode: can you show me where you do it? Can you point on your face? Of the Botox, Britney remarked, “It hurt sometimes, but I get used to it,” and of the waxing, “It was super, super hard to deal with that…I just don’t think it’s ladylike to have hair on your legs,” however adding that she won’t do it again. At least not for a while.

Just one day later, the San Francisco Child Welfare Services started looking into it and Trent Rohrer of the San Francisco Human Services Agency told cameras, “It’s pretty unusual for a mom to be injecting an 8-year-old with Botox. Certainly, it’s grounds for an investigation.” The agency apparently got involved because there were too many unknowns, like Kerry’s training, where the Botox she used came from, and whether her daughter’s pediatrician was consulted.

I’m not sure which was the dumber move, doing that to her daughter, or going on every news outlet you could find and bragging about it.

Moving on, in one of the stupidest legislative moves I’ve ever seen, the city of Warsaw, IN is trying to make it illegal for tattoo studios to use the word “Tattoo” in their signage.

The city has barred two local tattoo shops from using the words tattoo, body piercing or body art in any exterior signage or advertisements.  Officials say the shops, Hank’s Tattoo and Take Action Tattoo, are not in compliance with a city ordinance. The ordinance says a tattoo shop can’t be within 400 feet of a residentially zoned district, school, church, city park, day care or public library.

But City Planner Jeremy Skinner said they were willing to make an exception. “The city planning department’s recommendation was to approve the special exception to allow Hank’s Tattoo at that location without any conditions,” Skinner said.  However the board did put in a condition. “The board felt that, because it was located next to that residential district that it was necessary to condition the language on the signage,” Skinner said, referring to the fact that Hank Hernandez’s shop is about 20 feet from a mobile home park.

You know, we should apply that law to every store.  From now on all businesses can not use any words to describe their business on the exterior of their stores.  I’m sure “word of mouth” is all anyone needs to do to advertise anymore.  Right?

Now this next story isn’t necessarily modification related, as it involves an accident, but given the nature of the accident, I think you’ll figure out why I chose to include it this week.

A New Zealand truck driver who fell on a compressed air hose that pierced his buttock has survived being blown up like a balloon.  The nozzle pierced his buttock and began pumping air into his body, which expanded dramatically.

He said that doctors had told him they were surprised that his skin had not burst, as the compressed air – pumping into his body at 100lb/sq in – had separated fat from muscle.  “I felt the air rush into my body and I felt like it was going to explode from my foot.”  “I was blowing up like a football… it felt like I had the bends, like in diving. I had no choice but just to lay there, blowing up like a balloon,” he told the local newspaper, the Whakatane Beacon.

He said his skin feels “like a pork roast”, hard and crackly on the outside but soft underneath.

With the number of gas-related inflations we see in the BME Hard galleries, this story should serve as a small warning to those thinking about partaking in that particular activity.  It is dangerous, and if you don’t know exactly what you’re doing, bad things can happen.

While we’re talking medical stories, a Chinese man was shocked to discover he had a new tattoo.

A patient refused to leave hospital in Yunnan Province after claiming medical staff tattooed his backside during surgery.

Sheng Xianhui, 34, of Kunming, claims two Chinese characters were tattooed on his right buttock by staff at a local stone disease hospital while removing his gall stones. The tattoo translates as “Stone Disease.”  The hospital denies the mark is a tattoo and says it could have been caused by an allergy to the hospital’s bed sheets.

The hospital has called police to try to evict Sheng who also asked them to investigate.  “I’m not leaving,” he said.   “I’m worried that if I go out for even half an hour, the hospital will claim I had the tattoo done outside.”

He says he knew nothing about the tattoo until his wife, Hu Juan, spotted it when he had a shower at the hospital.  “After the surgery, I felt my right buttock was painful. However I thought it was a normal reaction after the surgery,” he said.

Well, at least he didn’t wake up in a bathtub missing a kidney.

In today’s final story, a reader sent me to this blog where the author has published a remarkable paper on how tattooed women are treated differently in America.

When talking about tattoo culture in the United States, it has personally become difficult for me not to think about gender and its role in the culture.Why is it so astounding for society to witness a tattooed woman in this supposedly modern day and age? Then there are other instances of touching without permission – for instance, pregnant women’s stomachs – which are female centered. What is it about the female body in the public arena which presents the opportunity for the invasion of privacy and personal space? Is this only an occurrence for women who have somehow modified their bodies, naturally or artificially? Or is it a systematic problem, a demonstration of the way American society views women and their bodies?

I set out to explore this problem in two directions: First, I wanted to examine the history of tattooing in America and the involvement of women within that culture. Second, I wanted to conduct a survey which would determine if this experience was common for all women, all people, or just an event that occurred sporadically within my friends group. The first study launched an analysis of the role of the female body within modern American society while the second resulted in a very surprising outcome.

It’s a pretty lengthy read, so if you have time this weekend, find some time and take a look.  It’s really worth a look.

And that is it for this week’s news post.  As always, if you find a story you think should appear in the weekly news post, just click here to send me the link, or you can e-mail me directly.

17 thoughts on “ModBlog News of the Week: May 27th, 2011

  1. ” The ordinance says a tattoo shop can’t be within 400 feet of a residentially zoned district, school, church, city park, day care or public library.”

    Ahahaha fuck, so we’re supposed to adhere to the same rules as registered sex offenders?

  2. It’s quite funny that they won’t allow places which are, on the whole, artistic in sensibility and fastidious in cleanliness to be within 400 feet of places which teem with the filthy, heaving, undulating masses. Who’s being saved from who in this arrangement?

    “They’re talking about impressionable minds, Jon”, my partner just said. Yes, they are, dear. But what child is going to be warped by a medically sterile, heavily artsy environment? I’d rather my kid hung out there than a mobile home park.

  3. i loved the interview with zombie boy
    i remeber when the first shots of his skull faces hit modblog
    it was good to read a little more about him ^^

  4. In South Carolina, where I am from, liquor stores can not have a sign with their name or liquor or, hell anything on them. They are only allowed 3 red dots. Most open up a beer store next door, that can have a sign, but if they remain only liquor then they can only have 3 red dots. MY dad owned a liquor store and spent years trying to fight that stupidity. It’s amazing how illogical these govt. ordinances can be. Now the pleasant sounding “Hank’s tattoo” will have to become something like “Hanks ink injection, for the installation of permanent imagery in the dermis” or something.

  5. about the warsaw tattoo sign ordnance, i feel they should be happy about what has happened,

    i know everyone in the situation and all of the tattoo shops are IN THE WRONG, they are lucky the city allowed them to stay open, they are clearly… CLEARY in the wrong with the zoning board, and should not be bitching about it, they are likely to just be shut down.

    i don’t see why they are fighting it when they are illegal studios due to zoning restrictions anyway

  6. and just to add, i do not agree whit what is happening, i personally think it’s major bull shit, but you have to adhere to laws, even if they aren’t right or total shit, i know his better then anyone

  7. In regards to the Botox Mom story, shortly after her child was taken into custody, she then claimed that the story was made up for media attention. Right…because having yourself on video injecting your 8-year-old with Botox you bought on the internet was a great idea for attention.

  8. Hehe, I like the way he hedged around answering about peoples reaction to him (zombie boy)…

  9. How does flinging insults prove that modified people are not, in fact, bad influences, but decent, rational, and open minded? That’s the same rationale behind the zoning laws; it’s not about being on equal terms, it’s about being better. Clearly not all people who get tattoos are criminal scum, just like not all people who attend church and live in mobile homes are “filthy, heaving, undulating masses.”

    Rosa Parks made a difference with civil disobedience, civil being the key word. I don’t think anyone would have taken her seriously if she called the driver a honkey.

  10. I’m so glad that little girl is no longer with her mother. she has been brainwashed.

  11. Indeed. I like that these tattoo shop owners have (at least, as far as the news report shows) been quite civil.

  12. re: me @ #11: I only meant to imply that humans are dirty. Good tattoo studios shouldn’t be.

  13. sounds like a contradiction to the First Amendment to me, about the sign ordinances.

    was shocked that mom lasted as long as she did honestly, with as much bragging as what had gone on.

    @flint, nice with the Rosa Parks comment.

    Jon p, i agree with you, its not about the name behind what a company is. hell in Vegas the one shop that comes to mind is Precious sluts, thats the title, they have something else that fallows, but that is the main name… how thats ok, im not quite sure. yet people would rather that than “hanks tattoo” baffles me right out the water. but trailer parks are way better places for kids to hang out around, clearly people who have made strong decisions in their lives and the kids wont be far from…. elderly supervision, rarely adults.

  14. @Sean: “Hanks ink injection, for the installation of permanent imagery in the dermis” has a certain ring to it. :D

  15. Rick Genest is a living work of art. Beginning the facial ink must have taken a lot of courage and I admire him tremendously for that. What a fantastic guy.

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