Interesting how some commentators feel that tigers live far away from the US.
Sure, there were no tigers in the Americas at the point of the Columbian exchange, but then again there were also no horses for thousands of years
(and the re-introduced horse became a central part of many Native American cultures).
By 2004 there were more caged and backyard tigers in the US alone than in the Asian wild.
Wild Asian tigers apparently number 3 062, while US tigers number between 5 000 and 10 000.
Although tigers may not be roaming about the landscape freely (I hope), the modern US is also the land of the tigers.
This is also how I understood Avner's modification: it combined old impulses of body decoration with new tools, and an affinity to an introduced
animal (even if the big cat family is hardly new to the US) to demonstrate the new global realities. By that interpretation it was an artistic
statement, and also unsettling in overthrowing stereotypical notions of the "indigenous" and what certain people should feel about certain animals in
a postmodern reality of constant exchange.
Body modification seems less moralized if it is done to look more like the prescribed norms of beauty or fashion, even if this is also dangerous.
Frightening skin-lightening creams in African and Asian countries immediately come to mind, or cancer causing tanning beds for naturally pale
Apart from the obesity epidemic and all kinds of surgical interventions to look "healthy", there's also anorexia and bigorexia.
In SA, almost every urban supermarket or pharmacy has aisles of body-building products, and many have a special section where muscle-men sell a range
of expensive pills and powders.
OK, some of this market is safe and legit, but some of these products come with age restriction guidelines of 18, but yet I see strange-looking young
males with unnaturally over-sized bodies and boyish faces buying these buckets all the time.
According to recent tests in SA some contain dangerous substances that aren't even on the label, and the labels are scary enough.
I have nothing against sporty bodies or body-building, but I have little doubt that many young men are dangerously modifying their bodies, often to
fit into an overblown gender construct pushed by society, from children's action figures to men's magazines, the sport's industry (with all its
pseudo-morality) and Hollywood.
Clearly it also happens with the tacit approval of coaches, and even parents and doctors.
Then one hears of rich mothers who organize botox parties for their teenage daughters!
Now we have a range of TV programs that deal with botched beauty surgeries, and botox treatments gone wrong.
All these things are "risky" we are told, yet this truth is overshadowed by "good surgeons" fixing the stuff-ups of the "bad surgeons"! So it's not
the impulse to modify the body for cultural (rather than medical) norms that is judged, just the "bad surgeons".
There's also a class superiority about it.
If you do these things to copy the upper class (and the rich and famous) then that's being upwardly mobile and fine.
If one modifies the body to look different to them, it's taboo.
Interestingly predator motifs like big cat prints also have a class history (the royalty and super-rich once kept big cats and various art with the
theme to portray their power and viciousness), rendering them kitsch or trashy when used by poor and marginalized people.
I don't think this culture can stand in judgement of Avner.
He was just an interesting person and a curiosity.
Meanwhile, unrealistic beauty norms are pushed on children every day, and many will one day suffer the consequences of the brainwashing.
edit on 19-11-2012 by halfoldman because: (no reason given)