It was quite a surprise to come across some “info” about scarification featured on the Polish breakfast TV (an infamously stupid “Pytanie na Sniadanie” program). I’ve decided long time ago that it’s a waste of time to watch such programs as they always claim to cover things in depth only to leave a viewer feeling disappointed but now and then I catch myself at giving them a chance.
The coverage of scarification came with some teasers beforehand where you could see a few shots of scarification projects (not overly bad ones; probably taken from the Internet) and read lines such as “a shocking phenomenon – scars as a decoration!” or listen to the voice in the background encouraging you to “stay with us to hear about scars – a deformation as a decoration!”
One could expect that while talking about scarification on air, you’d invite some experts on the subject and people who underwent such procedures to present their point of view. It’s never like this on TV, however, as it’s more about shocking than informing the audience, so no, they didn’t invite anyone who had firsthand (first skin?) experience with this kind of body modification.
Three guests were invited to discuss scarification: a young Polish dancer/ actress who has a few tattoos (and this presumably makes her an expert on body modification), a Polish rock musician with many tattoos and a professor of psychiatry who probably was expected to discuss many mental issues reflected in scarification/ deformation.
The scarification part of the program started with a short video of Anja Orthodox (of the Closterkeller band fame) who said a few things about tattoos (never scars) and how it should be discussed by people who have them, not by people who have no idea what it really could be about which, of course, never stopped the hosts of the show to proceed with their own profound thoughts on the subject. And profound they were all right as Tomasz Kamel and Agnieszka Szulim started with saying how the mere sight of scarification makes them cringe (Szulim said, Kamel looked the part).
It was obvious right from the beginning that they have their own fixed opinion on the subject and nothing could change it but it’s fun to watch them pretending otherwise, isn’t it? The pretty actress said how she would never do anything like this to herself as it’s unpredictable and she wouldn’t like to end up with something ugly on her but she knows some people who got it done and some scarifications can be quite beautiful. The Polish musician, with exotic roots, was definitely more diplomatic and mentioned seeing tribal scarifications in Africa and how it’s good that a rapper known as Popek posted his scarification video for others to see as it could make people more aware of the procedure itself (apparently the subject of scarification ended up in this program thanks to Popek’s recent mod but it wasn’t stated clearly before). Finally, the psychatrist briefly discussed how body modification is quite personal a matter and Anja Orthodox was basically right to say that it’s the tattooed (modified) people who have the right to discuss their modifications although he also admitted that this way it would be only a subjective perspective (as, obviously, our reasons for what we do may differ significantly). He definitely said, however, that scarifications don’t necessarily have to be a sign of any mental problem as there are many people out there, with nothing done to themselves, who can also suffer from mental disorders. It also turned out that scarification is more popular than an average viewer of this program could think as not only the actress knew people with scarifications but also the psychiatrist. Another important point they managed to raise then was also a question of limits as apparently voluntary amputation is something you should never ever do (and that’s when the actress asked a rhetorical question about the limits).
Since scarification is, in a way, related to self-injury, the next step in discussion was to talk briefly about self-injury itself and how Mr. Kamel could observe such procedures back in his board school (illustrated by quite descriptive gestures). And, of course, could it be addictive? They started running out of time then, so the last question was directed at the actress and Ms. Szulim asked her if she would like to get another tattoo done. The actress, of course, would love to have a new tattoo but, unfortunately (which is unfortunately true, too) she has to be very careful about her looks and choices now due to her acting career. She definitely thinks about tattoos, though, as it’s very addictive (it’s interesting, however, how it’s ok to want another tattoo if you are considered “normal’ and how it’s seen as something very negative if people don’t perceive you as someone who follows the norm).
To sum it up, what an average, quite ignorant on the subject of body modification but also open-minded viewer could learn from it? I’d dare say “absolutely nothing”! We were shown a few pictures of scarification (and you can get a lot more, with better designs, on the Internet); we were told that such a thing exists and some people go for it (but since stronger words stuck with us better, we’d probably remember “deformation” and “self-injury” as key words); we could hear “experts” discuss the subject (and the only person who made a relatively good, knowledgeable impression on me was the psychiatrist with his moderate, calm view of the subject) and try to show us that they actually know something about it but the formula of the show just doesn’t give enough room to say anything substantial on any subject. Instead of educating (which probably was their noble but purely superficial goal) they ended up with feeding the viewers with yet another piece of shocking news (which probably was just what they wanted to achieve in the first place).
A link to the video should be available on the website of the show tomorrow (it’s actually available today). I might actually watch it again to see if I wasn’t judgmental here myself 😉 (I don’t think I was – there’s no substance whatsoever in this video).