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Photo of the day: Lost’s Mao Shoutout

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This week’s photo theme is: Bad Chinese Tattoos. Self-explanatory.

Today’s bad Chinese tattoo comes from Emmy-winning ABC drama Lost, which itself probably inspired a bad tattoo or two. This is actually a real tattoo that actor Matthew Fox got for whatever reason, and it’s not that bad: 鷹击長空, the eagle soars in the sky. That’s a line of Mao Zedong poetry, and like the phrase “Let a hundred flowers bloom” (also Mao), kind of has a weird connotation even when divorced from context, as it is here.

In Lost lore, Fox’s tattoos actually get written into the script of his character, Jack Shephard. From the Lostpedia entry on “Jack’s tattoos”:

In “Stranger in a Strange Land” while Jack is in captivity on Hydra Island, Isabel reads out the tattoo and remarks on its irony, asking Jack if he knows what they mean. She later translates them as “He walks amongst us, but he is not one of us.” Jack replies, “That’s what they say. That’s not what they mean.” Although the translation given by Isabel matches the impact of the tattoo during the episode’s flashback, Isabel’s translation is far too long for any combination of four characters and is inaccurate.

Ha! The careful Lostpedia compilers also note a mistake in the original tattoo:

There is a kind of typo in this tattoo. Chinese is written either using traditional characters (繁体) or simplified ones (简体), but not a mixture of both sets. In this tattoo, the third character “長” and the first character “鷹” are written in traditional form, while the second one “击” is simplified from 擊. The last character has the same form in both sets.

Oh well. At least in the Lost universe Jack gets this tattoo from Bai Ling:

RADII China
China from all angles.

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