The other night, my boys and I went to see “Jackass 3D.” It was disgusting, profane, ridiculous and unquestionably stupid. I laughed so hard it hurt.
I suppose I could blame this on the fact that I am the mother of two teenage boys. Indeed, it is mad fun to jump into their world and hang out there with them. I like the spunky pungency of their stinky boy dens and am happy to play video games with them, even though they hand my ass to me on a platter in Super Smash Bros Brawl every single time. I don’t care how loud they play their music or what clothes they wear. I’ve even been known to allow my own baggy jeans to sag low and loose from time to time. I like getting into their crazy little brains. The other day, my 17-year-old suggested the possibility of introducing his grandmother (my mother) to the joys of recreational marijuana use. He thinks it might chill her out and make her less crazy. He might be on to something. So given all this, I have a perfectly reasonable excuse for going to see “Jackass 3D.” I could even claim that I was cajoled into going. But I wasn’t. In fact, it was my idea.
“Jackass 3D” features all the dopey, loveable misfits from the TV series and the previous two movies: Johnny Knoxville, Steve-O, Bam Margera, Chris Pontius, Ryan Dunn, Dave England, Wee-Man and Preston Lacy. The movie is simply the continuation of a formula of bodily harm and bodily functions, this time all in 3D, is if regular viewing weren’t in-your-face enough. It includes moronic pranks, unbelievably ill advised stunts and all-around grotesque shenanigans, all performed with perverse humor and infectious fun. This is not high art. However, there is something disturbingly compelling about watching the gang run around in their underwear, play tetherball with a beehive, hit each other with fish, go for a gross-out bungee-jump in a Honeybucket and drink sweat wiped from the ass crack of Preston Lacy. It’s all so terribly wrong, yet the boys and I were laughing so hard at points that we spewed soda out of our noses. What can I say?
When the Jackass television show first came out around 2000, people were aghast. There was much chatter about the foolhardiness of the cast and the vile nature of the show. Parents were concerned that their kids would emulate the behavior of the Jackass crew. While there may have been some incidents of teenage boys getting hurt while imitating stunts from the show, I am still not convinced that Jackass is to blame. If a kid is stupid, a kid is stupid. He’s going to figure out a way to hurt himself, Jackass or no. For my part, I trust my kids and have never worried that they would try to shoot bottle rockets out of their asses.
Of course, “Jackass-3D” is not for the faint of heart or stomach. While callous sophisticates and highbrow intellectuals might look down their noses at such philistine entertainment, I think there is a place for “Jackass 3D.” With a seemingly endless recession, unemployment figures that aren’t budging and a social divide that is growing more bitter and volatile by the day, there is a climate of unprecedented misery in the United States. Just to glance at the morning headlines is a form of heavy lifting. A kind of gloom seems to have settled across our cultural landscape. We are all carrying around something. “Jackass 3D” give us levity. It offers respite, albeit shocking, from the drudgery of the times. While it is true that it appeals to our most base sensibilities, I don’t believe that’s necessarily a negative. Sometimes it is good to turn off our over-thinking brains, stop taking ourselves so seriously and enjoy a dim-witted guffaw and a cheap prank or two. We can be stupid. We can have fun. We can lighten up. We can watch Bam Margera take a piss in 3D. There is silly quality of joie de vivre about this movie and as whack as it may sound, I’m glad that my kids and I shared it. The gentlemen of Jackass are modern day jesters for a weary world. Is that so bad?