Posts Tagged ‘trendiness’

12. Tattoos About the Place

Wednesday, June 17th, 2009

angelinaFew things capture the paradox of backpacker pretense better than tattoos. Every year, thousands of young travelers try desperately to be original only to end up behaving like everyone else. Getting a tattoo of a place you’ve visited is sort of like wearing American Apparel. It was cool and unique when nobody was doing it, but soon enough it got played out (see Nice but ubiquitous hoodie).

Ah, tattoos. So youthful and rebellious. Such a ballsy move to paint oneself with permanent artwork. And when backpackers sport a dope tat from their sojourn overseas, well that’s a backhanded beenou my friends. Go ahead, ask them what it means or better yet:  where they got it. Before you know it, you’ll be witnessing the eruption of Mt. St. Beenou.

A few backpacker tattoos to ponder (combinations of the below options may also exist):

  1. Plants and wildlife. Take, for example, a simple dolphin or whale tail. Countless girls have fallen victim to bad ink (see Megan Fox) and a common precursor is a fond and lasting encounter with porpoises off the coast of [Insert tropical dolphin inhabited place here]. Female backpacker Type A suffers terribly from the above Backpacker Tattoo Syndrome (BTS).
  2. Traditional/tribal tattoo styles. Thai bamboo style tattoo. Anything Maori. It looks fucking cool. Surfers rock it so it must be, right? Don’t forget that Mike Tyson has one on his face. If you wanna pull an Angelina, go adopt a kid from Vietnam.
  3. Foreign writing. I’ll be the first to admit that Sanskrit, Arabic and Farsi look awesome. But not if you’re a white boy from Idaho. You end up looking like that dad wearing the “My Sister Went to the Bahamas and All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt” shirt. Speaking of t-shirts, you may be aware of t-shirts from Japan and Taiwan printed in senseless English (e.g. Happy So Much!). The meaning is lost in translation. Yeah well, that “Carpe diem” you got in Chinese characters is just as meaningless (e.g. Grab Time) to the average Chinese person.
  4. Pretend spirituality. Buddhist, Taoist and vegetarian symbols are common offenses.
  5. Carpe diem. Cliches are excellent ways for backpackers to express their originality.
  6. Nationalistic beenous. On the topic of cliches, Canadian backpackers often have tattoos of Canadian flags or maple leaves. These are as cliche as the Canadian flag patches on their backpacks.
#1-2 combo.

#1-2 combo.

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10. Anti-Americanism

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

If you’ve spent any time overseas, you are either familiar with the widespread Anti-Americanism being perpetuated on the backpacker circuit or guilty of contributing to it. It’s such a big problem that it’s truly inescapable.

anti-americanismAlthough the prevailing Anti-American sentiment has taken the form of distrust-under-the-guise-of-acceptance since the election of President Obama, it is not genuine. “Giving Americans a chance” is simply trendy right now. As much as they’d like to deny it, backpackers love trendy.

During the George W. Bush era, it was far too easy to hate on Americans. Since backpackers also love stereotypes*, any American they met while traveling was categorized as a redneck agent of capitalism, war and ignorance – three things backpackers openly codemn. Any possibility that said American could be an open-minded, educated Gore voter (which most young backpackers were) was promptly disregarded.

Keeping on the theme of stereotypes, Europeans are without a doubt the most condescending people on the planet, so it should come as no surprise that they are the most active Yankee bashers as well. The French, for example, have a long history of hating the United States (see Why do the French hate us?). They are quick to overlook, however, their known affinity to several pillars of Americana: Hollywood movies, cigarette smoking, blue jeans and black music.

Contemporary Anti-Americanism has led many Canadian backpackers to mistakenly believe their shit does not stink. This notion is the product of an overwhelming national inferiority complex, similar to that of Kiwis to Aussies. A vast majorty of Kiwi and Canadian backpackers are convinced that because everybody seems to hate their more powerful and cooler neighbors, it makes themselves superior. Consider renowned Kiwi movie director Peter Jackson for a moment. Dude is talented. But he is by no means cool.

It’s about the accents. Canadians and Kiwis will tell you their accents are markedly different from those of Americans and Aussies, respectively. The foreign ear, however, can detect no such differences. Thus, a common scenario takes place across the globe:

  1. Canadian/Kiwi speaks.
  2. Foreigner assumes speaker is American/Aussie, expresses dislike.
  3. Canadian/Kiwi freaks out.
  4. Foreigner apologizes, retracts and feigns approval for Canadians/Kiwis.
  5. Canadian/Kiwi feels awesome, purports to being cooler than Americans/Aussies.

About 10 years ago, a nasty rumor surfaced that American backpackers, so fed up of being vilified at every turn, were sewing Canadian flag patches onto their backpacks. These allegations were no doubt a smear-campaign-under-the-guise-of-a-beenou-campaign created by a smug prick Canadian. Or maybe it was a Kiwi…

*Note: This blog is riddled with stereotypes.

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