Before we decided to go see it, I read a review that said, “Ask yourself this: Did the title make you laugh? If so, you’re probably the target audience.”
I hadn’t realized that the title was a joke at all. But when I went back and looked, yes, I did laugh. But I stopped laughing when I realized that I had just placed myself in the most unenviable of all categories: people who find toilet humor funny, but only when it’s explained to them. So I was indeed the target audience, only dumber.
I wouldn’t say that watching the movie has made me any smarter, but I will say that I look at life a little differently now. Being a homeowner for the past few years has made the world seem like such a fragile place. Everything breaks. Nothing withstands the test of time. Doorknobs fall off. Pipes transport water only when they feel like it. Nietzsche was probably a cheerful guy before he bought his first house. I bet he came up with the whole “God is dead” thing very soon after his roof sprung its first leak.
But Jackass has proven to me that the world is not nearly so fragile. You can stand blindfolded while a Siberian yak hits you in the shins so hard that you flip through the air and land on your face, and then do you know what happens? Nothing. You have a hearty laugh and then cut to the next scene, which probably involves getting attacked by a shark or being stuffed into a grocery cart and having your friends slingshot you into a closed garage door. But still, the people don’t die, like they obviously should. They don’t even seem to get seriously injured.
Darwin did not predict these people. The laws of nature do not apply. I can’t for the life of me figure out how the Jackass folks are all still alive. Chipping an occasional tooth seems to be the worst thing that ever happens to them. Requiring minor dental work after giving the Grim Reaper a wedgie seems a fairly small price to pay.
In reality, stupidity is not treated so charitably. When I was at summer camp as a kid, my friend Chris and I were hitting rocks into the woods with broom handles. We’d pitch the rocks to ourselves and swing away.
“Oh, there’s a perfect one,” Chris said, walking over closer to me and picking up a rock right by my feet.
At that moment, as Chris knelt down to pick up that rock, I thought we had an implicit understanding: I wouldn’t wait for him to get out of the way before hitting my next rock, and he wouldn’t stand up. To me, that seemed to be an agreement we could both be happy with.
Unfortunately, Chris didn’t hold up his end of the bargain. He stood up just as I started swinging, putting his head where nobody’s head ever wants to be: somebody else’s wheelhouse.
Most people go through their whole lives not knowing what it feels like to hit someone in the head with a broom handle as hard as they possibly can. But I found out exactly what it feels like, and it’s not good, though it’s probably a good measure better than being on the receiving end. I sure didn’t appreciate people laying all the blame at my feet, though, when Chris was clearly the one who reneged on our unspoken contract. It made his funeral really awkward for me.
Actually, after a brief bout with a medical condition commonly known as “being knocked senseless,” Chris enjoyed a full recovery, even graciously offering to help knock some sense into me.
You can strap Mike Todd to a rocket and fire him over a lake online at firstname.lastname@example.org.