It would be quite obvious (and justified, I suppose) for me to rip this film limb from limb; to agonize over the moral depravity that produced it, the brainless turds who starred in it, and the worthy-only-of-death teenagers who will no doubt make up its core audience. I could tell you that I was revolted by the endless scenes of shit, urine, vomit, and self-inflicted torture. I could also lecture the lot of you about the decline of Western Civilization that such a film represents. I could, quite easily I might add, but I won’t. Instead, I will shout, rooftop-style, about the virtues this film has to offer. By virtues, I don’t mean to say that it is merely entertaining, funny, and wickedly cruel (although it is all three), but I also wish to inform you that it is, as all virtues imply, good for you. Necessary. Beneficial for the soul. Let me explain myself. For those of you not familiar with the television show (a small group, no doubt, since you clicked on something called Jackass (for a reason), the premise is simple: a group of dimwitted young men seek various ways of hurting themselves and each other, all with the hope that screams will be heard, vomit will flow, and innocent bystanders will be offended. The favorite activity seems to be crashing to the ground with excruciating pain, a result usually accomplished by skateboarding, bicycling, or rollerblading over dangerous terrain. Between such stunts, they crash into walls, displays, and other people, all in the hope that something, somewhere (preferably a limb) will snap like a twig. Amazingly, however, no one ever gets seriously hurt, which might account for the release of a big screen version of the show with all the original members in relatively good shape.
In the film, we watch as small alligators bite nipples, muscle stimulators are attached to scrotums, paper cuts are inflicted on tongues, shits are taken in public, and urine-soaked “snow cones” are devoured like so much hot fudge. Midgets kick themselves in the head, toy cars are shoved up ass holes, and fat, bloated men are given ass-kickings while on the toilet. Of course, the proceedings are juvenile, trashy, moronic, and utterly pointless, but at this moment in time, when so much of our national dialogue consists of judgmental self-righteousness (and calls for a “moral renewal” by the self-appointed guardians of piety), I must dismiss all reason and instead throw my support in the direction of something, anything, so single-minded in its desire to disgust the average middle-American. Since this is the exact sort of product designed to revolt the Red States, I will applaud its effort, pat the backs of the participants, and hope with all of my might that the faces of the religious and holier-than-thou never stop contorting in apoplectic fury. I attended this “movie” (a misleading label since it is nothing more than 85 minutes of disconnected sketches) on opening night, and the crowd was full of the expected drones of teenagedom – backwards cap-wearing, arrogant, and wholly without a clue. They talked back to the screen, shouted their approval, and laughed along with the rest of us. Yes, I gave in to my “lesser beast,” and never once regretted the decision. And, while I would rather spend my time with sophisticated folks who value subtitles and black and white cinematography rather than car crashes and one-liners, on this one night, I felt at home. For while these kids are pigs, cretins, and sub-mental boobs of the highest order, at least they are here – not at church and certainly not in the midst of cultural diversions that are meant to be “good for you.” Instead, they were watching fellow Americans willingly, joyfully committing indefensible acts; unspeakable perversions of filth and outrage. So I say fuck edifying entertainment, and fuck that which is meant to inspire one to be more just, more moral, more decent???Freedom and liberty is not synonymous with virtue, unless of course that is what one wants to be. Therefore, celebrate Jackass not as art, or even a well-spent evening, but rather for its very existence. For its availability (and popularity) is, against all common sense, the surest sign yet of our country’s health, spirit, and vibrant democracy.