Ben Affleck has been through some stuff. On the heavier side, he’s faced scrutiny over his very public affair that led to his divorce from Jennifer Garner. That’s in addition to his stints in rehab and road to recovery. He also is likely still haunted by Gigli. Perhaps the most (in)famous aspect of Affleck’s life, however, is The Phoenix: a full-size, multi-color back tattoo of a bird ascending from the butt crack of Ben Affleck. It’s both proud and devastating. Violent, yet peaceful. It’s also the butt of at least one hundred million internet jokes.Yet this week on Ellen, Affleck appeared looking fresher than ever ahead of the release of his Netflix movie, Triple Frontier. And when the topic of his glorious Phoenix tattoo came up, Affleck had quite the succinct response: “I like it. It’s something that I sort of kept private, I wasn’t doing photoshoots or whatever. I love my tattoo. I’m very happy with it.” Slam dunk, my friends.
The Phoenix tattoo—rising like a beautiful epiphany—is not just a talking point. The Phoenix is a source of pride, and honestly, why the hell not? Jennifer Garner actively did promotion for Peppermint, and no one has been dragging her for that, right? The movie literally had her revenge killing drug-toting immigrants that orchestrated her family’s death.
As Affleck alluded to the sentimentality behind the Phoenix back tat, something became clear to me. We all have a Phoenix back tattoo. Granted, it’s likely not as visually jarring, but we’ve all had a moment in life that may not appear particularly flattering, yet it taught us something greater about ourselves. Mine is a missing karaoke tape of me singing “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy” from 2002. The lesson? Well, I prefer to keep that to myself.
Perhaps after all this time of us posting unflattering pictures of Affleck on the beach or Affleck chain smoking or Affleck’s penis scene in Gone Girl with a sarcastic jab, the joke has been on us—a public unwilling to look at the metaphorical rainbow birds we carry on our own backs. Rise from the ashes of being a shitty avatar on social media, recognize that you are no greater than the sum of all your back tats, and cut Affleck some slack.
Lookin’ good, Ben!
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