Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Kat Von Wrong

Who is a known face that can represent my aesthetic, but offer a generic, more media driven perspective? What came to mind was Kat Von D who said she dresses with a varying style "because it's different and it's outside the box" (LA Times). She ostensibly follows what Jonathan Culler says is "the cultural meanings of [the] particular act[s] [...that] is determined by a whole set of constitutive rules" (56) of a once taboo subculture of tattoo's and rock n' roll, while maintaining a spot in the public's eye. Not only is she a woman, but she portrays rebelliousness, individuality, an artisan mentality, and the aforementioned rock n' roll, and thus, the perfect accessory to a rock-god such as Nikki Sixx. She is furthermore the perfect spin off to a popular series, Miami Ink; she can speak to all the misunderstood and misrepresented youth as a female who is just like YOU. But what I actually find is the binary system at work within her above quoted image.

As said by the Structuralist Ferdinand de Saussure, if Jennifer Connelly for example
represents high culture it "would be impossible to fix even a value of the word signifying" (67) "Kat Von D" to represent subculture if she was never labeled the other. However, when observing her behavior she is anything but the other. It is in fact commonplace nowadays to have tattoo's (specifically poorly wrought ones) and if you are part of the subculture you are not in the frame of mind of being 'different,' so she is not the true form of rebellion; she has bought into the franchise that has become tattoo rendering shows, throwing individuality out the window (which is also expressed in her re-shooting of famous pictures like that of Janet Jackson and Elvgren pin-up art); and what is more, if you have seen her work, she is a terrible tattoo artist and YOU can be put on her something like 1-2 year wait list to pay an arm and a leg for something that will bleed horribly into your skin for the rest of your life, and thus, artistry does not pertain. She does have the sober at twenty-six, and therefore, the Rock n' Roller thing going for her, but for what? LA clubs and night life that is never going to be available to the average and poorly represented low culture kid? Or maybe this is the Michael Phelps story of the tattoo world; can't be a role-model if you're always strung out. But I digress...

Point being, Kat Von D is the representation of
the Structuralism binary system in its totality because she - although represented as such - is not the sign that the media portrays her to be. It is impossible to be part of a subculture if you are charging $500 per half an hour of less than mediocre work. But that is also the goal of the media, well in this case capitalism: exploit to acquire the highest profit. And thus her sign is misconstrued and the "relative position" (68) of Kat's sign that Saussure speaks of is to Paris Hilton falling repeatedly and saucily in a bin of tattoo guns.

Work Cited

Kat Von d
. (internet photo) 18 Feb. 2009 .
Kat VonD. (internet photo) 18 Feb. 2009 .
"Q & A with Kat Von D." Interview with Emili Vesilind. Los Angeles Times. 18 Feb. 2009 .
Ryan, Michael. Literary Theory : An Anthology. Ed. Julie Rivkin. Grand Rapids: Blackwell Limited, 2008.


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