Mich Ouellette knew that when pictures of the massive Jar Jar Binks tattoo that he has on his back went viral earlier this year, the attention to the artwork on his body would eventually resurface sometime down the line.
“I kind of figured that it would come back around,” said Ouellette, who lives in South Portland, Maine. “Like, ‘It’s going to be the gift that keeps on giving. I’m sure it’ll pop up a year from now, or five or 10 years from now.’”
But it was much sooner than that.
The two-foot tall, black-and-gray tattoo that Ouellette paid roughly $1,600 to have permanently etched onto his back was name-dropped on Buzzfeed’s “50 Worst Things On The Internet In 2019″ listicle earlier this month, clocking in at number 11 — right below the dreaded “clam chowder popsicle.”
Ouellette, 42, said he didn’t mind so much that the website took a slight jab at the subject matter on his body, which he will live with for the rest of his existence. What irked him, he said, was that the tattoo was lumped in with some truly bizarre — and too explicit to be shared in this family newspaper — images that sprouted up online this year; ones that he saw as considerably worse than getting a tattoo of a reviled character from the “Star Wars” prequels.
“I think I got to number 14 on the list and then just stopped,” said Ouellette, who owns a screen printing and graphic design company with his wife, Jessica. “There’s things where it’s like, it’s a blurred-out photo, and says, ‘Contains graphic content.' And then when you click on it, it shows...” (Editor’s note: sorry folks, you’ll have to Google it for yourself.)
He added, "My tattoo is not that bad. The idea might be bad, but the tattoo itself is beautiful.”
Ouellette, who has two full arm sleeves dedicated to the intergalactic Sci-Fi franchise — the Dark Side on the left, the Light Side on the right — got the Jar Jar Binks tattoo more than a year ago. People would always ask him, because of his other tattoos, what he thought of Jar Jar Binks, the goofy, long-eared Gungan creature that has long been the target of jokes amongst fans.
“People have always asked me, jokingly, ‘Where’s your Jar Jar tattoo,’ thinking that as a 42-year-old, I must hate the prequels and hate Jar Jar,” he said. “But I love the prequels, and I love Jar Jar.”
After awhile he decided, “'Ok, I have to get a Jar Jar tattoo’ ... and it had to be a crazy tattoo."
Besides being a “Star Wars" fan, Ouellette is also into the “Jackass” movies — in particular Steve-O, who has a giant self-portrait on his back, giving the thumbs-up.
Ouellette thought getting Jar Jar Binks in a similar pose, tattooed on his own back, would be the perfect way to pay tribute to the character.
“As soon as I thought of that, I said ‘I have to get that. That’s it,’" he said. “I texted my tattoo artist, [Chris Dingwell], and he was so excited.”
It took three, seven-hour sessions to complete the mural of Jar Jar Binks. Beneath the portrait it says “Oie boie, mesa bombad," the Gungan equivalent to “Yeah dude, I rock!,” which appears on Steve-O’s back.
This May, around a year after it was actually finished, Ouellette’s wife shared an image of the artwork on Twitter. Her post was in response to a comedian’s comment about how people with back tattoos rarely ever get to see them.
Fast-forward to December, and the widespread attention to his wife’s post on social media was enough to land him on Buzzfeed’s year-in-review list.
One might think that some of the negativity surrounding his tattoo would make Ouellette reconsider his choice to get the portrait inked in the first place. But that’s not the case at all. Ouellette still loves Jar Jar Binks. And he still loves his tattoo.
“I’m not bothered by [the list] at all," he said. "It’s kind of like, it’s the reason why I got it — I know that it’s an absurd tattoo and I know that it’s going to make a lot of people go, ‘What the [heck].' So being on these lists, I knew it was coming.”
The one thing he does agree with, however, is the point made by the comedian that prompted his wife’s tweet.
“I never get to see it,” he said. “The only time I get to see it is when people take a photo of it.”
But that happens often these days.