Rumors have swirled about Ben Affleck’s very bad tattoo for years. The ink—which appears to be some sort of molten bird permanently written onto the actor’s flesh by a drunk friend—had been dismissed for years as mere speculation, until, earlier this month, shirtless paparazzi shots of the actor on a beach revealed that, yeah, no, that shit is real, and it’s permanent, and it is very bad. So astonishing were these images that even Affleck’s old friend Matt Damon was called upon to comment on them. Numerous hale, august publications teased apart what Ben Affleck’s Tattoo Meant to our American Moment, including The New Yorker, who just fucking laid into the guy:
Brutal shit, New Yorker—so brutal, in fact, that it inspired a response from that very avatar of middle-aged-white-male sadness himself, Ben Affleck:
It is worth noting that Ben Affleck does not tweet. His account has been open for seven years, a period of time over which he has issued a grand total of 406 tweets, which is less than the average journalist has tweeted in the time you’ve spent reading this article. The vast majority of those tweets are on-brand messaging about his Eastern Congo Initiative or promotion for whichever movie he’s dourly suffering through. The last two times he seemed to be personally handling the account were his October 2017 apology to Hilarie Burton, and, prior to that, to commemorate the death of Adam West in June of last year. That is three times in nine months, and one of those is about a fucking tattoo.
Anyway, it is remarkably brave of Affleck to address not only the existence but also the very badness of his tattoo. He is a model for owners of bad tattoos everywhere—a living testament to that fact that, with time, and with a public dragging by one of the most respected institutions in American journalism, we all can own up to the water-logged fantasy board-game art scrawled across our sad, pasty, middle-aged backs. Metaphorically speaking, of course.