If Ben Affleck really didn’t want the world to know about his massive rising phoenix tattoo, then it’s possible he’s currently living his worst nightmare.
To bring you up to speed, the internet recently discovered that the large, colorful work of art he has on his back—one he previously denied having in 2016—is, in fact, real. Photos surfaced of him alone on a beach sporting nothing but his swim trunks and the large piece of ink, and people ridiculed him for it.
In 2016, his exes Jennifer Garner and J. Lo each shaded the tattoo publicly. Garner’s response was particularly funny. “You know what we would say in my hometown about that? ‘Bless his heart,’” she told Vanity Fair. “A phoenix rising from the ashes … Am I the ashes in this scenario? I take umbrage. I refuse to be the ashes.”
Recently, Affleck’s close friend Matt Damon protected him in an interview with The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. “It’s not one man’s job to tell another man what he can do to his back,” he said. “I support him in all of his artistic expression.”
But Affleck himself had yet to chime in—until Thursday.
In a tweet, the actor responded, quite passive aggressively, to a story published by The New Yorker titled, “The Great Sadness of Ben Affleck.” As the name implies, the writer Naomi Fry explores Affleck’s perceived descent from a Hollywood playboy to, well, a sad man on a beach with a rising phoenix tattoo.
There’s an image in which he’s standing alone, shirtless, staring off into the ocean. She covered the tabloid fodder about his relationships, and the fact that Affleck found himself involved in the #MeToo movement after Rose McGowan said he knew about Harvey Weinstein’s various alleged sexual harassment instances.
Specifically, the piece called out the tattoo and how it seems reflective not just of his suggested downfall, but of the fall of man in the modern world. “The image suggests not just the fall of Affleck but the coming fall of man. There is something about this exhausted father that reflexively induces panic. We’ve been living in a world run by Afflecks for so long, will we even know ourselves when they’re gone?” Fry writes.
Affleck’s response? “I’m doing just fine. Thick skin bolstered by garish tattoos,” he wrote on Twitter.
So yes, we finally have an admission that the tattoo previously in question is real. As for whether Affleck is happy in his personal life, we’ll let his response stand for itself.