Rad Carney said, “It wasn’t a fast day.”
It was then that one of the most interesting periods in his life began.
The behind the scenes of viral success
Carney, a Vancouver tattoo artist, works out of Adrenaline Vancity; on a slow day at the shop he and fellow artist Hunter Walls came up with a fun idea. Carney had created a tattoo a while back, riffing on the East Van cross. In his design, EASTVAN was replaced by HOT DOGS.
Walls and he have inked the design to a few people, but they thought it would be fun to create a video of the design on someone’s forehead.
It was easy. They created a stencil, placed it on Walls’s head and pretended to do the tattoo.
They just had to edit a photo to look like Walls was getting the final tattoo.
“We weren’t thinking about it. It was easy,” Carney says. Vancouver Is Awesome.
In just 10 minutes, they had it posted to Instagram. He was suggested to create a TikTok profile so that he could also post the photos there.
Carney was back at work when he noticed it, but he didn’t notice it for a long time. He didn’t check in on his video until that night, when he woke up and decided to take a glance at his phone.
It received thousands upon thousands of views, and the growth was rapid. Almost two weeks later the original TikTok post has more than nine million views, with hundreds of thousands of new views still happening each day. Instagram also enjoys a lot of views. Many people have clipped his video, and reshared it all over the world.
@nomad_radtattoo “Finally excited to have a face tat. It’s gonna be sick”…he said. #tattoo #tattoos #crazytattoos #crazytattoostories #hotdog #hotdogs @adrenaline604 #vancouvertattoo #vancouvertattooartist ♬ original sound – nomad_radtattoo
People fall for this prank in their thousands
With many views comes many comments, and many of those sharing their thoughts believe the video is real. For them, Carney became a target for their sudden anger.
“They were savage, people were outraged, people were saying ‘Any tattooer with morals and ethics wouldn’t have done this” or ‘You should have sent this guy home,” Carney says.
“People were just angry and I thought it was hilarious because it wasn’t real,” he adds.
He began by sharing the joke with the people who commented.
“This is my client, and as a baby, he was baptized in hot dog water.” He wrote one time. “This tattoo is his dual passion for Christ as well as ballpark meat sticks.”
It wasn’t just random internet folks who got duped, either; fellow tattoo artists appear to have fallen for it, with some calling for Carney’s equipment to be taken away while others unfollowed him.
In a later post, he said that it was “amazing how many veteran tattooers were fooled” and “triggered”. “Shouldn’t these OGs be able to identify real tattooing?”
Others were even more outraged at the inclusion of a cross; Carney received an email from an angry individual calling the tattoo an insult to billions.
While the video appears realistic, there are several ways to tell that it isn’t real. Experienced tattoo artists should have noticed the lack of needles and the final edited photo, which shows a crooked and minimal irritation. Carney also used an Alan Watts speech in recognition of the fact that this wasn’t a real tattoo.
“It felt like Black Mirror “It was just a bit, but people were getting so excited about something not real on a monitor,” he says.
Media websites around the world fell for it, including social media giant LadBible and sites in Germany and India. Others tried to pay for an interview or video; Carney asked for payment in hot dogs, but none came through.
He tried to reveal it was fake in a fun way by creating a similar video with Hunter, but this time with “Corn Dog” in the cross and joking that this time Hunter was the original man’s twin. They thought the ridiculous idea would tip off people to reality, and—for some—it worked. However, not all.
However, because the original video was so popular, most people aren’t seeing the second one.
The joke continues
The joke has been going on for a while now (the original video was posted Nov. 25), and Carney is still dealing with his phone being filled with notifications; for several days his phone was nearly useless because of the response to the video.
Adrenaline and he had a long conversation and decided to share the truth on Instagram. The virality of the video has been good news for Carney’s business but it hasn’t been all positive and there has been a lot anger directed at them.
In an Instagram note, he described the situation and offered some thoughts about the outrage.
He wrote that “the hate mail was intense, the responses were intense and this brought out anger in people,” “I didn’t sleep much for a week thanks to all the harsh messages—which I acknowledge I invited upon myself.”
An even larger issue
While it was just a fun video about a hot dog Carney notes the video seems to have touched on a couple of things.
“I think it was a collision of a few things: cancel culture, bodily autonomy, virtue signalling, enjoyment of hot dogs, the controversy of facial tattoos, religion, differing values among generations of tattooers, the propaganda machine of social media, and so on,” he explains. It created a perfect storm by pulling people’s emotions and values in so many different directions that it just exploded.
In particular, he notes, with so many arguments pushing for bodily autonomy these days, the fact so many were outraged over a stupid tattoo is an interesting case study and he wonders why so many were easily triggered.
Carney suggests that people not interested in face tattoos should consider alternatives. He recently tattooed stars on the eyebrows of a client who he described as a “West Vancouver soccer mom” type.
He adds that the internet line is hot-dog cross forehead tattoos for some reason.
He says, “It was a stupid joke about a hotdog, but it really said a lot more about a lot other things.”
If you are curious, he tattoos the cross of hot dogs if they want it on their foreheads.