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Bad Ink on A&E

by Elizabeth Gunto September 10th, 2013 | Reality TV, TV Reviews
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tattooSchadenfreude is a powerful, though unhelpful emotion. People love seeing other people fail, make poor decisions or just hurt themselves and the people unfortunate enough to be around them. People especially love this if they can attach some kind of justification, however shaky, for other people’s suffering. “That’s what he gets for being drunk, serves her right for acting stuck up,” and so on.

Nowhere is this unkind attitude more indulged than on reality television. New Jersey residents getting punched on the beach and young women from states where sexual education is underfunded dealing with colicky infants and lapsed child support payments are both story lines for various reality shows. Viewers seem to get a kick out of watching people struggle and suffer.

This is the entire theme of A&E’s Bad Ink. Two tattoo artists in Las Vegas, Dick Vermin and his pal Ruckus (oh, please) stroll around the most tourist-filled parts of the city and look for people with bad ink. They find tramp stamps of Pamela Anderson, the name of an attractive flight attendant scrawled in comic sans across a forearm, and skull and crossbones on a kindergarten teacher.

Sure, someone could argue that Sir Vermin and his coworker fix the bad tattoos and thus improve the lives and employment potential of their clients, but that is not why audiences tune in. They tune in to see the bad font and sad and alcohol-related stories. And the cover-up tattoos aren’t great. If the owner of the bad tattoo is a lady, she usually gets a giant purple flower or a giant pink butterfly. The guys are even less lucky. They usually get a full-bosomed angel or a dream catcher.

Of course, even the meanest among us can watch only so much of people regretting their past decisions, so each episode of Bad Ink shows the pair going about their day, running errands and hanging out with their families. It didn’t seem to occur to the producers that these tattoo artists don’t necessarily have thrilling lives outside of looking at and fixing dumb tattoos.

This begs the question, in the age of Google, when someone can type “bad tattoos” in a search engine or read a Buzzfeed list, is Bad Ink even necessary? It is certainly not original. Who needs to watch two guys with lame facial hair cover up the word “Gus” on a sorority girl’s back when the internet exists?icon-1recliner

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