March 22, 2005

American Cyclist Must Save Face: After professional bicyclist David Clinger showed up at training camp with the face-covering tattoos of a Maori warrior, he agreed to remove some to placate his sponsoring team.

posted by rcade to other at 10:28 AM - 18 comments

Wow, that's a much better look for you there, Dave. I'm totally going to use Webcor for my next project now! I agree with the dumbass assessment, but the only real crime here is to the poor fellow's face. Well, I hope he's good enough to be called an eccentric, and not merely average enough to be considered a liability.

posted by chicobangs at 10:37 AM on March 22, 2005

What will the children think of this type of behavior?

posted by jasonspaceman at 11:18 AM on March 22, 2005

I might be guessing, but "What a kickass tattoo" will probably be in there. Good lord, is there no room in our straight edge society anymore for the out-and-out weirdo? Stupid sponsors.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 12:12 PM on March 22, 2005

It is culturally insensitive in that he gave himself a facial tattoo that is fotr a chief, if he goes to New Zealand he might just get his ass kicked. Most Maoris and Pacific Islanders who get tattooed these days restrict it to arms, legs, torsoes. If you watch Super 12 rugby you'll see some impressive work on Blues' Carlos Spencer's forearms (Maori) and Hurricanes' Lome Fa'atau's thighs (Samoan), but none dare get their faces tattooed, it's disrespectful, it's tapu, bad mana.

posted by the red terror at 12:52 PM on March 22, 2005

The guy admitted that he doesn't even know anything about Polynesian culture. He just saw a tattoo and thought "hey, wouldn't it be cool if..." If you worked in an office or a shop or something and you turned up after a summer vacation with a full-facial tattoo, you would expect your boss to be slightly upset, no?

posted by afx237vi at 03:48 PM on March 22, 2005

As has been noted: It is far worse he has the tatoo without any respect or knowledge of its signifigance than that his sponsors are put off by it.

posted by pivo at 04:17 PM on March 22, 2005

That's not quite accurate, the red terror. Facial tattooing is the norm amongst Maori for both men (where the moko is a full face mask) and women (where the moko is just the lips and chin). Tongan and Samoan cultures generally eschew facial tattooing in favour of leg and buttock work. Nor is it really restricted to chiefs. It is, however, a function of tribal affilitations, rank, and achievements. An ordinary person wouldn't be eligible for moko, but someone from an aristocratic family, an ordinary person who's had many accomplishments, a priest, or the like all are. The patterns will be dictated by iwi (tribe), and the story being told. The tattooing is generally carried out by a specialist who's familiar with all the rules around what you can have where, and traditionally, a young man might start with a small moko based on his family affiliations, and expand it over the course of his life as he rises in stature. A full face moko would usually only appear on middle-aged men and women of considerable accomplishment and rank. There was one deviation from this, which was some Maori applying moko to slaves who were then killed and their preserved heads sold to European traders hungry for novelties for the home market. Modern moko is not quite that simple, because many modern revivalists are also political activists who have laid claim to full moko that they probably wouldn't deserve under traditional rules. But yeah, for someone with no iwi connections, no accomplishments recognised by Maori society, having a moko done would be considered pretty offensive over here. If I, as a non-Maori, wanted moko, I'd only really get one recognised as legitimate if a well-respected tattooist designed it and approved of it, and then did it.

posted by rodgerd at 04:18 PM on March 22, 2005

Well rogerd, that was a nice anthropology lesson for the ignorant folks like me who only know of Maori culture through Once Were Warriors and Whale Rider...

posted by chris2sy at 04:33 PM on March 22, 2005

Thanks rodgerd. Good history. I could add that facial tatooing was stopped in Tonga at the time the missionaries started to run things (about 1840). They cut out a lot of other fun things as well. I'm no expert on Maori moko, but doesn't the top of Clinger's head look like one of those old leather bicycle helmets?

posted by owlhouse at 07:10 PM on March 22, 2005

If you worked in an office or a shop or something and you turned up after a summer vacation with a full-facial tattoo, you would expect your boss to be slightly upset, no? Yes, by all means, we must live our lives for our masters... I think that facial tattoo is the 2nd stupidest thing ever. Removing it, leaving oneself scarred and disfigured simply to placate a corporate sponsor is the stupidest.

posted by rushmc at 07:13 PM on March 22, 2005

At the risk of sounding like a Clear Channel billboard: Rush Is Right.

posted by chicobangs at 10:17 AM on March 23, 2005

You mean the corporate sponsor who pay the guys wages? Without corporate sponsors the sport of cycling would not exist. What they say, goes. If Clinger was dumb enough not to realise that, then it's his problem.

posted by afx237vi at 10:51 AM on March 23, 2005

>>>If Clinger was dumb enough not to realise that I have to agree. Getting a tattoo on your face and not expecting some negative reaction from your sponsor is pretty stupid. IMO: publicity stunt.

posted by JohnSFO at 11:10 AM on March 23, 2005

Without corporate sponsors the sport of cycling would not exist. I cannot disagree more.

posted by dusted at 11:48 AM on March 23, 2005

Please elaborate, dusted. Where are cycling teams going to get the money they need to survive without sponsorship from corporate organisations? They can't exactly rely on ticket sales, can they? Lance Armstrong's team is not called Discovery Channel because he's a huge fan of "American Chopper", it's because they pay millions of dollars to have the name of their company of the back of his jersey.

posted by afx237vi at 04:17 PM on March 23, 2005

afx, it's semantics but who says a sport involves only professionals? As long as there are a good number of competitive people who love cycling, the sport of cycling will exist.

posted by cl at 05:15 PM on March 24, 2005

cl nails it: professional sport relies on big money. Sport doesn't. It can be easy to forget it when ESPN/Sky/et al spend so much time and money convincing us that sport consists of sitting on our ever-broadedning bottoms while watching a handful of people participate. But yeah, if I wanted a job anywhere outside New Zealand, I wouldn't be getting a moko, and even inside New Zealand you'd probably have to threaten some sort of cultural/racial lawsuit to get work as, say, a waiter.

posted by rodgerd at 04:55 AM on March 25, 2005

TattooFilter: Rugby Union winger Lome Fa'atau has pe'a, the traditional Samoan tattoo. He went full-traditional, having a 9 day operation using a pig tooth - the tattoos are carved into the flesh, rather than simply inked in. Maori moko were similarly performed with greenstone chisels and generally had a textured feel as a result. Modern moko are often done with needles, though. Some more on moko, including their use as signatures.

posted by rodgerd at 05:05 AM on March 25, 2005

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