Most tattooed and pierced society
Ancient Mayans in “Apocalypto”

Look around the mall and it can seem as if everyone’s got a tattoo. Yet if you think the popularity of tattoos in the modern world have reached a historical zenith, think again.  Though some have quibbled about the accuracy of actor/director/rehab occupant Mel Gibson’s take on Mayan society in the film "Apocalypto," he got the skin right. 

The Mayans took body art to a new level. The piercings, tattoos, and cosmetic scarification the movie depicts transport us to a place where violence was so ingrained in the culture, its results were proudly worn on people’s skin.  And changing one's mind was not an option.  In the ancient Mayan world, there was no laser removal technology, so a tattoo really was a lifetime commitment. Of course, in a society where losing sports teams were ceremonially sacrificed, lifetimes (and their respective commitments) tended to be significantly shorter.

And today, tattoo treatments don’t have to be as painful as a ritual beheading.  Sites can be anesthetized to insure effective fading of tatts without feeling like a jaguar appetizer. Finally, since the wavelengths of laser light match the dark pigments, the remaining skin is unaffected. Tattoos fade, but normal skin color doesn’t. This way, scarification is left to the people that valued it, the ancient Mayans.

Runner up, tattooed social group:

Suburban white hip hop wannabes in “Alpha Dog”

Sorry Sexyback.  Justin Timberlake’s attempt at B-boy body art runs a distant second to the Precolombian playas of “Apocalypto.”

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