Semiotic Analysis Of Tattoos

Decent Essays
Register to read the introduction… By choosing to tattoo the bodies with symbols and signs, usually associated with the gangs that they are in, they prove their loyalty and allegiance to the gang. Tattooing is a painful process by norm. It involves bleeding and coloring your skin layer to form designs. In prisons without proper equipment and sanitation it is a risk and even more painful procedure in getting a tattoo. It's called the free hand method in which the inmate gets ink and a needle and uses the original Polynesian weapon. This method tend be sloppy and the tattoos are usually illegible. Another method is when an inmate can acquire the right supplies; he invents something called a tattoo gun, which consists of a simple motor, a hollowed out ballpoint pen, guitar string, and a battery. This method is more precise and generally creates a better product. Tattoos are not only display of the amount of pain an inmate could endure but it also revels the gang's values and idea. Tattoos are displayed fearlessly as they are a sign of empowerment and means to brag. The tattoos are also an identity on the inmate's history. It depicts who they are, what they've done and where they come from. Tattoos are banned in prisons and anyone caught will loose privileges, be moved to a more restrictive wing, and sometimes face a disciplinary hearing. Due to the popular demand of tattoos, these rules do little to discourage the inmates from getting more tattoos. Within the prison subculture, a good tattoo artist is held in high. The designs of skulls and demons as tattoos not only symbolize evil but also of someone who is dangerous. The signifier aims to send the signal " don't mess with me" because I am evil and dangerous. To better understand let's compare an inmate with an "I Love Mum" tattoo. The image of that inmate is portrayed through the meaning of the tattoo. In the prison subculture there is a great number …show more content…
Chopper is another film that aims at relating in a biographical sense the prison life of an inmate called Chopper. Popular HBO series Oz is another media communication of the prison subculture. It shows the clear politics that goes on in between the walls of the prison. Ethics such as back stabbing, lying, manipulating, making alliances following the inmate code of ethics are shown as necessities to one's survival in the culture. The extent of the prison subculture sometimes extends over the walls of the prisons and controls the gang on the outside as well. Such is the main ideology of the culture. The idea of power and control over authorities and mainstream culture is predominant. Mass media such as film and television series raises the existence of the subculture and creates a disturbing awareness among the mainstream cultures. Oz is the closest series that attempts to expose the realities of prison life. Various aspects of the prison subculture such as homosexuality, violence, gang politics, racial discrimination and corruption are expressed for the masses to see. With film status the inmates become celebrities and the subculture attains a new level of recognition. People who identify with the signs, goals and performance theories present in that culture begin to communicate ideas of prison subculture the mainstream society from outside the

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