Disjecta – Rebecca Loar
March 1, 2019
I have a bad scar that I lie about, which I assume is common. The actual way I got it is not important, and knowing about it wouldn’t offer up any useful insights. We can’t even help people understand us when we try. The important thing about this replaced memory is that it’s been entirely replaced with a lie which has been entirely replaced with a fact and that fact is that the series creator of Oz is actually getting the tattoo from the show’s opening credits.
From memory it’s fairly large and it just says the word Oz and there’s a small red blood drip. The font doesn’t look particularly tough, which might be because it’s not filled in. It may also be that something about the font doesn’t quite register correctly as any identifiable style. It could be “generic biker” but doesn’t quite read that way unless you mentally fill in the blanks. It’s minimal without being subtle, and it appears to be the only tattoo on the arm – lending starkness without severity. It’s a very earnest tattoo and I find it uncomfortable for that and many other reasons.
Shots of the tattoo in progress make up a sizeable portion of the intro, and are mixed thoughtfully with what I imagine are the clips of that season that best encapsulated the words “gritty” and “real” and set to what closed captioning describes as “tense percussive tones” which is a phrase I tend to think about more than the tattoo while actually watching the intro because as I’ve previously stressed, the tattoo isn’t interesting – especially when contrasted with the much more incendiary visual elements or even the tense percussive tones.
At this point I’m just going to recount the elements I came to know about this tattoo and the subsequent realizations about the tattoo in approximately the same order in which they happened to me.
The first is obviously that the series creator actually got the tattoo (fact).
The second is that the series creator is not also the guy who “did” The Wire, which I did not watch because it takes place in Baltimore where I used to live and is the only city I hate more than my hometown. This is important because it is generally that guy who is thought of as the ARTISTIC GENIUS behind Oz. (unresearched fact, potentially untrue)
The third is that they shot the scene many times, potentially from many angles and someone was worried that you cannot keep tattooing that guy because he’s bleeding too much. (true as in an actual quote, impossible to confirm accuracy, also unresearched).
The fourth is that the tattoo scene does not seem necessary at all (opinion, more on this later) and even seems visually incongruous with the clips used, and only makes sense when it fades into the actual logo for the show, which is just a graphic of the tattoo on a white background, which weirdly is much more visually appealing than the version of the tattoo that this possibly not the artistic genius who did The Wire man still has to this day.
The fifth is that it’s a fact that there is an objectively true order between the following three elements:
The idea to show someone getting a tattoo.
The design of the tattoo for that purpose.
The development of the show’s logo.
The sixth and final element is that much of the commentary on this incident is framed as the not Wire guy’s exceptional and steadfast belief that the show would be a success before the airing of the first season and subsequent critical acclaim. And this is where the one related and true detail of my life is relevant.
I get tattoos with people to commemorate relationships that fail 40% of the time and I absolutely never think critically about this fact.
The thing about the Oz tattoo is that it embarrasses me with its earnest good faith, and it perplexes me with my inability to be impressed by it. It seems unfair that the apparently very bloody tattoo and the weirdly public masochism for the dubious artistic merit is exactly the type of thing I’d find endearing, but the sheer earnestness of the moment kills it for me every time.
It’s only cool if he thought the show would be a failure.
The final fact about the tattoo is that its the same stupid font as the one on the bottom of my left foot–which is objectively my worst one, but also the one I think about the least.
In the police station there are always prostitutes. They are not always on screen, but they are always either about to be on screen, on screen, or have recently been on screen. Especially in the 80s and 90s and especially if it’s a buddy cop picture.
These are brief largely uncredited roles with minimal dialogue, but they are crucial to the tonal balance and are largely responsible for telling you where you are (police station) and what to feel (urban). They’re generally being rushed because they’re too powerful.
I don’t know how they are selected, or if they’re asked to speak. I imagine it like how wives were chosen for Russian child princes in the 1500s where they are handed a rose or a glove. Just a room full of breathless actresses ready to transcend. Maybe they pick their own outfits. Maybe they pick their outfits as a group to complement the arrangement. Maybe they are sad it’s not a bigger part because they don’t know how special they’ll be because they haven’t yet seen how it will be framed. And how it will be received. By me.
They were added for a reason. We’ve been looking at too many men having too many conversations. This police station does not look like a tenuous struggle barely kept in balance by a fundamentally weak and arbitrary authority. This room does not speak to the grinding futility as human desire wears itself down against the coldly calculated will to an unachievable purity. This room looks like a DMV and even with the phones ringing everyone is bored. It is a stand-in for itself, labeled “police station” like in a political cartoon.
There are many variations of police station prostitutes. They will mostly be beautiful, but they can also have other characteristics. Sometimes one reaches out to show a flash of courage (always), indignation (usually) or desire (rare), or to bargain with fate like a doomed warlord. No matter what they do they get hustled out of frame so you don’t stare at them like an eclipse.
This is cowardice.
If I were a police station prostitute I’d tell you that you’re not trying hard enough, but you shouldn’t worry about it because no one else but me will ever figure that out. I’d look directly into the camera while I said it. You’d like to think you’d be devastated by this, but it’s very likely that you don’t even notice police station prostitutes.
I love them and I’m angry that you don’t value them enough.