Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

Teresa Maria Linda Scholz


Japanese style tattoos onto the bodies of celebrities in the United States articulate a lack of awareness towards this ancient art form through their appropriation of historically inaccurate images. The prominence of these celebrities in magazines circulated within the United States act as powerful mediums which may lead to the commodification of certain Japanese symbols in capitalistic societies like the United States. I use post-colonialism, Orientalism, transnationalism and hyper identification as the theoretical framework and semiotics as the methodology in order to examine fourteen magazine covers that showcase celebrities in the United States sporting noticeable Japanese style tattoos. The overall analysis provides insight into the traditional meanings behind certain Japanese images, explains how each celebrity’s tattoo can be understood through the selected theoretical framework/methodology, and details transculturation as the dominant form of appropriation that the majority of these images fall under.