Skip to content

Ben Affleck Speaks Out About His "Garish" Back Tattoo

Like a phoenix from the ashes, his legendary ink has returned.

The sad Ben Affleck meme has hit peak sadness lately, so much so that The New Yorker recently published a piece titled "The Great Sadness of Ben Affleck," indicating that his sadness has now attained the symbolic stature worthy of a short story by the magazine's legendary literary ilk.

The short essay was prompted by recent paparazzi photos revealing a colorful, sprawling tattoo on his back of a phoenix rising from the ashes. His "mid-life crisis tattoo," as it was dubbed by Vanity Fair, was first spotted back in 2016, and when asked about it by the magazine, his then-recently separated ex Jennifer Garner said, "You know what we would say in my hometown about that? 'Bless his heart,'" adding, "Am I the ashes in this scenario? . . . I refuse to be the ashes."

That same month, Affleck told Mario Lopez that the tattoo was fake, saying that it was "for a movie." So you can imagine the field day that the Internet had when the ink was still very much there, in photos of him standing on a beach in Honolulu, towel wrapped around his waist, staring at the waves with the regretful melancholy of a failed Icarus.

Or, as Naomi Fry put it in The New Yorker piece, "Staring at the water before him, his gaze obscure and empty, Affleck is a defeated Roman senator, or, perhaps, the most anti-Romantic version imaginable of Caspar David Friedrich's 1818 'Wanderer in the Sea of Fog.' The image suggests not just the fall of Affleck but the coming fall of man."

It doesn't help that old photos of him desperately suckling on vape alone in his car, and exhaustedly smoking a cigarette on a balcony, have also made the rounds lately. In these highly unflattering shots, Affleck, along with his growing beer paunch, looks like the middle-aged Boston deadbeat he had warned Matt Damon's character not to become in Good Will Hunting.

Ben Affleck has previously been silent about his status as Sad Affleck (in one interview, he responded to the viral clip of him looking sad while being pressed about the bad reviews for Batman vs Superman by defensively exclaiming, "It taught me not to do interviews with Henry Cavill where I don't say anything and they can lay Simon and Garfunkel tracks over it. That's one thing I learned").

But it seems like the essay by one of America's most prestigious literary magazines was the last straw. On Thursday, he tweeted at the magazine to say he was fine. Just fine, O.K.? Totally, and completely fine.

It's O.K., buddy, we're all here for you. And while we laugh, just remember: we've also all been there. We're certain the time of Sad Affleck will pass, and the man who gave as Argo will rise again, like, well, a phoenix from the ashes.

If Robert Downey Jr. can make a comeback, then there's hope for anyone. I mean, as long as you're not Sean Penn.

To discover more amazing secrets about living your best life, click here to sign up for our FREE daily newsletter!  

Diana Bruk
Diana is a senior editor who writes about sex and relationships, modern dating trends, and health and wellness. Read more
Filed Under