The end of the road for “Jackass”

By on September 20, 2001

Johnny Knoxville is making new career choices that don’t exactly include pepper spray or flame retardant suits, just movies that won’t make us laugh half as hard. Knoxville recently decided to stop making “Jackass.” Outspoken Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman has been pressing to get the show off the air.
After Jason Lind, 13, of Torrington, CT, suffered second and third degree burns from repeating a stunt on “Jackass,” Lieberman and other politicians asked MTV to take the show off the air or air it at a later hour. Other incidents occurred around the country making “Jackass'” popularity a thorn in MTV’s side.
Thomas Hitz, 12, of Lake Mary, Fla., tried the same stunt as Lind and suffered similar injuries. Hitz’s friends were laughing uproariously at the situation the same way Knoxville’s comrades do on the show. Another boy broke his leg when he was hit by a car driven by friends in an attempt to videotape the bit and get on “Jackass.” The show refuses to view any viewer’s home submissions.
The show’s departure isn’t entirely caused by political pressure. MTV asked Knoxville for another 22 episodes, but he wasn’t interested. He wanted to quit the show before people got too used to its shock humor. “With this kind of comedy, people become injured to the shock value,” said Knoxville.
Knoxville is already making movies in Hollywood with the film “Big Trouble,” which opens soon. He’s also starring in “Life Without Dick” aside Sarah Jessica Parker, and “Men in Black 2.”
Shows such as “Jackass” have a relatively short shelf life. How many masochistic stunts can be seen before the effect starts to wear off or numbs you completely? How much sophomoric humor can one network stand? MTV creates celebrities such as Knoxville and doesn’t support them once media pressure rears it’s ugly head. If they have the backbone to release a program like this in the first place, wouldn’t you think they could go the extra mile to support it further?
“Jackass” is the rare program that let’s the audience feel perfectly okay about laughing at other’s misfortune, mostly because it’s self-inflicted. It’s the guilty pleasure of a car accident without the pesky ambulance workers staring at you as if you weren’t supposed to be there.
Joe Liberman is only concerned about the three isolated incidents that resulted in injury from this show. There is a majority of elder and wiser people out there watching this show that don’t feel the need to imitate these sorts of ludicrous stunts.
“Their talent is beating the crap out of themselves,” said Jason Volpe, when asked about the show’s popularity. Simply stated, it’s true. I tune in every week to see what crazy stunts these human crash dummies are going to endure.
If what happened to Tom Green is any indication, Knoxville’s name will become another pop culture relic, only to be savored over nostalgic coals. What’s Green been doing since he fingered Freddy? Not much besides burning down his own abode!


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