Jackass Number Two arrives in a theater near you in 3 weeks and a day. Something tells me your reaction is one, some, or all of the following:
1-”Grr. I hate that stupid crap.”
2-”Huh? Wha? You kids are nuts.”
4-”Just thinking about it makes me queasy.”
5-[look around to make sure no one's around to judge you] “Sweet.”
My personal blend mixes a heavy dose of 4 and 5 with a smattering of 1 for texture. Like me, most people I know who like the first film feel some compulsion to qualify or hedge their praise. Is that really necessary, though? Let’s explore.
Watching “Jackass:” Proudly or shamefully?
The right people hate it.
“The Terminal” drew fundie praise, a sign you should be embarrassed to like the movie. And can you absolutely rule out the prospect of Dick Cheney tossing some popcorn down the chute while catching a snuff film? I didn’t think so. Even if your own moral compass fails you, this suggests you should be ashamed to enjoy one.
Somewhere ‘twixt the two lies “Jackass,” but neither party would be caught dead seeing it. Advantage, “Jackass.”
It has interesting sexual politics.
The first movie contains oodles of male nudity. During their show, they performed a skit in which 2 guys rollerbladed around a park in their skivvies while holding a sexual position together. They have a controversial gay-themed billboard up in LA, and in an interview with his own production company, MTV Films, director Jeff Tremaine described the film this way:
I think the stunts are bigger, and it’s a lot gayer. That’s the only way to explain it.
It consists entirely of dehumanization and violence.
If the Geneva Convention saw the first film, it would burst into flames. Apparently, the sequel contains a gag-inducing sequence involving horse semen. And as you might’ve seen from the trailer, this stunt ends poorly:
The violence is restricted to men.
These dudes dig the pain. They love to inflict it on each other. Maybe the patriarchy will pick up the message and start directing its violence onto itself. At the very least, it might thin the herd.
But it does encourage men to be violent.
In the end, that doesn’t help matters much.
It’s performance art.
Stupid as it sounds, it’s true, and its shock value can really cause you to think about anything from how depressingly hollow our culture has become to the peculiar pleasure of pain. Against all odds, “Jackass” is thought-provoking.
So at the end of the day, you have to weigh its glorification of violence and dehumanization against the rest of the package. At this point, I feel fairly certain “Jackass” is a net positive. I look forward to being proven wrong below.