Why Watching “Jackass” in 2022 Makes Me Feel Better About the World
A good prank creates a coherent narrative about cruelty and chaos.
I was in Oregon for two weeks, visiting my fiancé’s hometown for the first time since we got engaged. My biggest priority on our vacation wasn’t seeing his family or going out for long hikes in the forest, but rather, watching an obscene amount of television. I spent hours consuming marginally upsetting true crime programming on Oxygen and had a blast watching the classic John Grisham joint, Runaway Jury. But really, I only had eyes for one particular piece of programming: Jackass.
“What are you in the mood to watch tonight?” my fiancé would ask, even though he knew exactly what I was going to say.
We watched Jackass: The Movie, Jackass Number Two, Jackass 2.5, Jackass 3D, Jackass 3.5, and early episodes of the TV show. (I had greatly enjoyed Jackass Forever and Jackass 4.5 a few weeks prior to our trip.) All I could talk about was pranks and gags and crazy stunts. All I could think about was Wee Man and Johnny Knoxville and Chris Pontius. I griped and moaned about how Bam Margera could dish it out but not take it. “I wish they did less stuff with poop and vomit,” I’d remark. “It’s too gross.” While brushing my teeth or loading up the dishwasher, I’d find myself overcome with a wave of concern for Danger Ehren. They bully him a little too much, I’d think. I hope he’s OK. I was a woman obsessed.
And when we had consumed all the Jackass there was to consume, I yearned for more.
I wasn’t always a Jackass maniac. Like many of my peers, I was raised on MTV, but I’d always change the channel when Jackass came on. It was too yucky and hardcore and unappealingly masculine. I prefered Laguna Beach and TRL. I like watching Punk’d because I loved celebs and thought Ashton Kutcher was cute, but the show made me a little sad. (The episode where he convinced Justin Timberlake that the IRS was repossessing all his property, including his dogs, made me choke up.) Since I was regularly bullied at school, pranks freaked me out. The humiliation that comes along with being the target of a practical joke felt like (and still feels like) my worst nightmare.