Alex, the protagonist of Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange takes teenage rebellion to psychotic extremes, but one act he and his droogs never indulge in is getting tattooed. It doesn’t even seem to be on their radar. How different things were in 1962, when the book was published!
I have no doubt that director Stanley Kubrick (or designer Milena Canonero) could have devised some iconic ink for the 1971 film adaptation, but it would’ve been gilding the lily. Movie Alex Malcolm McDowell’s single false eyelash is so arresting as to be instantly recognizable. It deserved its star billing on the updated book cover that coincided with the film’s release.
It’s also just one of many Clockwork Orange-inspired images that decorates fans’ hides now that tattooing has hit the mainstream. What would Alex think?
The little monster’s ego would’ve have relished the notoriety, but I bet he’d have had a snicker, too, at the lengths to which eager chellovecks and devotchkas will go. It’s the kind of thing his dim droogie Dim would do—mark himself up permanent when he could’ve just as well have bought a totebag.
Whether or not you personally would consider making a salute to A Clockwork Orange a lifelong feature of your birthday suit, it’s hard not to admire the commitment of the passionate literature and film lovers who do.
In assembling the gallery below, we’ve opted to forgo the photorealistic portraits of McDowell—particularly the ones that recreate the aversion therapy scene—in favor of the graphic, the creative, the jaw dropping, the sly… and the unavoidable Hello Kitty mash up, which we’re kind of hoping washes off.