In which I write a thoughtful mini-essay on the relative creative merits of Jackass.
I while back I was doing the movie blog rounds, as one is wont to do, and I came across this article. I thought it made an interesting point, and put into words that niggling feeling I have always had about Jackass and people's attitude toward it. It intrigued me enough that I casually linked it on my Facebook page, and then went about my day. Pretty soon it became a fairly epic annihilation, about how wrong I was and how awesome Jackass was. Then I went over to the original article over on Pajiba and saw maybe 50 comments that went down similar lines. They weren't dumb responses either, many making reasonable points and coming from an intelligent place. Just as the guys who took it up with me, are smart film lovers whose opinions I respect more then my own. But it seems whoever you are, be it an extremely small-timer like me, or a critic for Time Magazine or God himself, you don't insult Jackass. Unless you want a ton of generation Y rebuke all up in your face.
The irony is of course is that the post didn't necessarily say that Jackass was bad. It said that it was stupid, something that its creators celebrate and shout from the rooftops, and sanctioning this kind of stupidity against say, the stupidity of Vampires Suck or Grown-Ups, is hypocritical. You can't say something is an attribute in something you like, but treat it as a negative in something you don't. That I think, is my main issue with the whole Jackass thing. Not that people enjoy it, I enjoy it, but its when people call it something its not. I think its the smarter fans, who would pride themselves on their taste and not liking anything unless its good, who are the cause of this. Not wanting to attribute their liking the films to people getting hit in the balls in various ways, and wiping out on various hard surfaces, they go on about how structurally revolutionary it is, how deep the meta goes and the fact that these guys know what they're doing is stupid makes it genius. Its apologetics for something going after their basest funny bone and hitting it. I think the films are about dispensing that which does not matter in comedy, like story, tact, elegance or anything like that and just being about the money shot. Every Jackass movie has moments I find to be inspired and hilarious, just as every Jackass movie has moments where disgust deeply outweighs the funny and I wish to all power I could be somewhere else. But fundamentally I believe that there's never been a series of movies to which criticism is more irrelevant.
Its a series of cheap joke skits, classical music or no, of which none have any consequence. So Jackass is and should be treated as an awesome guilty pleasure movie, with people knowing how light and pointless it ultimately is but enjoying themselves just the same. But its kind of gone beyond that to the point where my generation will die on their hill in defence of Jackass and a whisper of a bad word will unleash all kinds of hell upon you. To quote Johnny Knoxville, its a movie about stupid people doing stupid things and laughing about it. So why isn't that OK. Why does it have to be something more, and why couldn't this kind of love and devotion go to a film that actually wants it, and not to a film that would find the nature of this very discussion kind of hilarious. Its just a thought, and like I said I do enjoy these films so be nice to me. I'm like, well fragile.