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A Gibson Drunk On Stupid
My misanthropy is nearing dangerous proportions once again. Today, before heading to the bookstore, I deliberately didn’t change my clothes or shower so that strangers would stay away from me. This is dangerous because I can’t be walking around all stinky and gross just so that people won’t talk to me. I probably ought to learn how to better socialize. And you know, shower. Heads up: This rant is long, so if you bore easily, be warned.
I recently arrived at an opinion piece on www.associatedcontent.com about body modification. Piercing specifically. Before I talk about this little ditty by Jeanne Gibson, let me first preface that I am open to a myriad of ideas about any number of things on any number of topics. It’s important to stay informed about the things you care about, kids, even if it is the opposing view. It’s vital to understand what other people think before forming your own opinion. I have taken a long time to formulate my opinions on various topics, and I’m glad because my personal opinion (whether it’s politics, faith, body mod, art) is based on a wide view of the topic at large. Now here’s a word that makes you giggle: doodie!
Back to the point. Jeanne Gibson wrote an article for AC called, “The Perils Of Body Piercing --- Is It Worth The Risk?” This sentence is me not making fun of the excessive use of dashes in the title; that would be childish. The article, albeit moderately well written, outlines the chief reasons people give to Jeanne Gibson when she asks about their modifications. And by chief, I mean three. Then Jeanne Gibson talks about some risks in modification. And by some, I mean fifteen. That alone ought to tell me where she lies in the discussion. But I read the whole thing. Here’s a play by play.
Two things nearly detracted me from continuing passed the first sentence. The first was a photo used to illustrate the tone of the article. In the margin is a girl with a tongue piercing, and near the top bead is a bluish nastiness that I can only assume is an unhealthy mod. Even if it isn’t, I’m sure there were many better photos to use. But that’s nitpicking right out of the gate. The second thing that made me not want to read on further was the first sentence itself. It went something like this (a-1, 2, 3, 4…). “My first reaction when I see a young person with an obvious body piercing is, "Why would an attractive person want to spoil his or her looks by doing something so ridiculous?"” Does Jeanne Gibson really expect me to read on if that is her introductory sentence? I mean, this is supposed to introduce her thesis and tone. And yes, I know my intros have nothing to do with anything. That’s a stylistic choice. Here, she is basically saying (at least I read it this way), ‘Here is my judgmental reaction to modification, and I’m going to try to support my bigotry.’ Spoil is a nasty word. Ridiculous is a nasty word. And the inclusion of the phrase “young person” sets this up for a tale of someone older and wiser.
Jeanne Gibson starts her list of the core reasons for which she seems to believe we mod with one that drips of the filth called ‘out of touch.’ Quote Jeanne Gibson, “They say that body piercings are “cool.”” This is one of those arguments that a person on either side cannot possibly debate because it is extremely subjective in its use of an amorphous and nebulously defined word. What is cool? I sure as shit don’t know. At one point white t-shirts, black leather jackets, cuffed pants and grease in your hair was cool. Then later, bellbottoms and peace signs. Then later, leg warmers and shirts with big block letters on them. Cool is an ever changing thing, and those who change with it probably see more comfort than those who reject it. OR, you can do what everyone else does and define your own cool and be comfortable with yourself, something modification helps us do. In her response to this answer, she outlines how a girl who works at a restaurant her family frequents is modified with an eyebrow, a ‘nose’ (which I’ll assume is a nostril), and a lip. Jeanne Gibson’s reaction is this: “It doesn’t look “cool” to me, and I’m always glad when she takes our order and leaves, because her piercings are almost painful to look at.” Do I even have to tell you kids what’s wrong with that judgement? She follows by saying that employers who have two qualified people, modded and unmodded, will always choose the unmodded person in order to appease the customers. And of course, she includes the unmodded obligatory stance of “but will it still look cool 5 or 10 years from now?” Yes. Yes it will.
Jeanne Gibson’s second most heard reason for modification is, according to her, “Kids claim their friends are all getting body piercings so they want one, too.” This topic doesn’t deserve a response from me, and you kids are way more educated in the culture of modification to read any recapitulating dribble I could spout on it. The one remark Jeanne Gibson did fart out of her mouth on this topic that does warrant recognition is this: “If they are honest, most kids will admit they believe that getting a body piercing will make them stand out among their friends.” This point of view is completely devoid of the artistic expression that modification exemplifies. It’s narrow and ignorant, and it assumes that all of these kids using this “reason” are attempting to manipulate their parents. And if these young people (I won’t even mention age of mod) are that good at manipulating their parents, then their parents are stupid and need to take their heads our of their asses. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, parents have the absolute power to say no. If you’re not a dickless parent, you can do that.
Ms. Jeanne Gibson’s last point is that the kid will say that it’s his body and he can do what he’d like to or with it. If we are talking about a kid, an actual minor, then we can go back to the parents saying no thing from earlier. If the kid is over eighteen, he can indeed do what he wants. These are the laws we agreed upon, and those who exercise their fullest of rights within the confines of any given law oughtn’t be damned for it regardless if a stranger agrees or not. Aren’t we a country that allows expression in nearly any form? Aren’t we a country that has age limits on certain behaviors because we as a society have deemed those ages appropriate for those behaviors? We live in a country where you can burn the flag as an act of whatever, but a someone in a restaurant somewhere doesn’t like a waitress’s mods, so the waitress ought to be limited to what she can wear? How does that not sound severely fuct up to anyone but me?
Jeanne Gibson then follows with a list of fifteen ‘perils’ of modification. These include swelling, keloids, infections, allergic reactions, and death. No shit, Ms. Gibson. It’s just like those anti-smoking ads that make us aware that smoking is bad for us. Yeah, no shit. I’m not stupid. What I am is an educated adult with the ability to weigh risk, consequence, and reward against one another. Swelling? Really? What person would be surprised that a piece of skin that just had a fucking needle go through it would actually swell? Give us a little credit, Ms. Gibson. Infection. Yeah, it’s an open wound for a while, and if your artist is a good one, he’ll strictly tell you about aftercare. It’s up to the person with the new piece of beautiful to adhere to that or not. And Death? If you die from getting pierced, there was probably a much larger problem going on. I can assure you, it wasn’t the belly dangle your future stripper daughter just got.
This is getting long, but I don’t care. (Sorry, Emmy.) Our country is filled with a million no bodies who manipulate people into like-mindedness through senseless fear-mongering. Risk is dangled like a carrot before the faces of people who only get their information from illegitimate source, like opinion pieces. I include myself there, kids. Though I try to be as factual as I can, this is a blog, not an encyclopedia. Just because Mama Gibson typed ‘piercing risks’ into a search engine doesn’t mean that she has a well rounded and educated view about the culture at large. Yes, some kids mod because they want to attain the sense of ‘cool.’ Yes, some kids are irresponsible with our beautiful culture and how they celebrate it. Some, not all, Ms. Gibson. Widen your view. Not every muslim is a terrorist; not every Korean a communist; not every Italian in the mafia. I know I’m not. This ignorant, myopic stance on something as beautiful and, in the end, inconsequential as body modification is absurd. Your waitress is beautiful, Ms. Jeanne Gibson, and if you can’t see that, the problem is you. Maybe the modified waitress doesn’t want to serve someone with the make up you wear, or the way you cut your hair or paint your nails. It’s all modification, Ms. Gibson. Give me a call; we’ll talk about how beautiful my culture is. Feel free to let Jeanne Gibson know what you think, kids, and stay beautiful.
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