Stars—they’re… not like us at all, actually. They’re wealthier, better looking, and (sometimes) more talented at multiple things than most of us are at any one thing. That makes the temptation to relate to them both baffling and sensible at the same time. On the one hand, they’re impossible to relate to, but on the other hand, what fun is it to try to connect with someone who’s already like you? Yes Allisyn, it’s very cool that you’re trying intermittent fasting for the fourth time, but I’m more interested in Cardi B’s new Lamborghini. But if Ariana Grande’s new tattoo is any indication, sometimes it’s indeed possible for a celebrity to fall ass-backwards into relatability.
As you may be aware, Ari’s latest song is “7 Rings,” a tune about how Ariana and her friends are the last people on Earth to actually shop in physical brick and mortar stores. It’s become a minor hit, because who the hell knew that getting involved with one of the least-used players on an SNL cast full of not useful people was the ticket to having everything you touch (or sing) turn to gold? And because everything 1998 is new again, the almost-Mrs. Davidson decided it would be rad as hell to include some Asian characters in the graphics. In this case, the characters were Japanese, as seen in the video:
Cool, cool. It checks out, those characters translate to “7 rings” in Japanese. Not sure why she’s going all Gwen Stefani here, but there’s a reason she’s a famous singer and I’m not. Things got less cool, however, when Ari decided to celebrate the song’s success by getting a tattoo (an idea that’s never backfired on her in the past). In what I’m interpreting as a testament to how difficult it is for an artist to make money in the modern streaming economy, Ariana Grande’s new tattoo cuts a few corners, opting to only ink the Japanese characters for “7” and “wheels,” i.e., rings:
— アリアナ・グランデ JP公式 (@ariana_japan) January 30, 2019
While that’s all well and good, there’s one teensy problem: it doesn’t mean what she thinks it means. According to Kotaku (a site for nerds), while those characters do mean “7” and “wheels” separately, when you put together they mean something else entirely: “shichirin,” or a small charcoal grill used in Japanese BBQ. That’s literally it—it’s a simple clay or metal pot with a little steel grate over it for cooking (you can get a little crappy one on Amazon for $13 if you’re already planning this year’s ironic Halloween costume).
— at (@aoi80550747) January 30, 2019
UPDATE: Ari has pulled off the rare and coveted double tattoo screw-up. On the advice of her Japanese tutor (something she definitely does not have), she added the character for “finger” (and a heart, for some reason). The only tiny problem is that she didn’t put it where the tutor told her to put it, so her tattoo is still nonsense. It now means something like “Japanese BBQ finger.” So she now LOVES Japanese BBQ, and also fingers.
So what have we learned from Ariana Grande’s new tattoo? Plenty. I submit that this is really the moment she went from robot to regular person. Consider how much this one small thing means we have in common:
Do I do things impulsively? The pile of Amazon boxes waiting for me to recycle them seems to indicate “yes.”
Do I think Asian calligraphy is cool for no good reason? I owned a hat like this in high school.
Do I actually speak or understand Japanese? Haha, no.
Is Japanese BBQ delicious? Unequivocally.
Am I an idiot? The biggest, possibly.
There you have it, Ariana Grande’s new tattoo means that she’s just like us and probably that she and I could hang out for like 15-20 minutes before I would want to throw myself in front of an oncoming train. Maybe we could go to one of America’s few remaining shopping malls and she could buy me something.
But lest you think I’m picking on Ariana, consider that she’s not even close to the only celebrity to do a dumb and bad tattoo—in fact, it’s probably easier to make a list of celebs who haven’t. But here’s a small sample:
Ri is the proud owner of not one, but two tattoo screw-ups: One on her neck in French that, due to grammatical errors, translates to “flower rebel,” and one in Sanskrit on her side that’s supposed to say “forgiveness” but actually says nothing, because it’s misspelled.
Rising to fame in the 90s, it’s maybe not a surprise that she also fell victim to a misunderstood Asian character tattoo. She wanted “mysterious” tattooed on her pubic bone area (the most 90s tattoo location) in Chinese, but what she got translated to “strange” instead. Weird flex, but ok.
Perpetually playing second fiddle to Britney, Christina also got in on the bad tattoo action. In her case, she wanted the initials of her then-husband Jordan Bratman on her arm in Hebrew. Instead she got “12,” which is pretty much the same if you think about it.
Some tattoos are misspelled, but a select few do so with some delicious irony. Hayden wanted “live without regrets” tattooed down her ribcage in Italian, but the artist misspelled it. It rules that now she cannot look at her own tattoo without doing the thing the tattoo expressly tells her not to.
Nicole Richie may now be heralded for her ideas and designs as a fashion mogul, but one design she regrets is her tattoo. Nicole is a virgo, so when she was 16 she thought it would be edgy as hell if she instead got “virgin” tattooed on her wrist. It’s not, but no one knows that better than she does.