Last night went to see Jackass with Mike – first time out of the house in the evening without Amy since Miles arrived. Utterly tasteless, retarded, relentless, extreme beyond words. The kind of human horror show from which you can’t avert your eyes. I have a weird admiration for these guys – they don’t seem to think of themselves as artists, even though they warp boundaries by challenging assumptions. Meanwhile, I dislike them for lowering the bar of decency another few notches.
Then tonight rented season #1 of Michael Moore’s old TV show, “The Awful Truth” with Amy – if you never saw it, Moore took the formula from “Roger and Me” — giving big business a hard time — and ran with it. In one episode he gathered a bunch of ex-smokers who had lost their larynxes to cancer or smoking and took them to headquarters of tobacco companies to sing Christmas carols through their voiceboxes. Eery and powerful … just brilliant stuff.
And so I got to realizing that there was a parallel between Jackass and The Awful Truth in that both involve elaborate pranks sprung on unsuspecting people. Only Jackass has no point except to blow minds by exploring just how juvenile and extreme grown men can be, while The Awful Truth is political. Jackass’ accidental interlopers are innocent bystanders, The Awful Truth’s are the people who pull the strings of the world. One show has a point, the other doesn’t. Oh, and Jackass is still on the air, making money. The Awful Truth isn’t.
One other thing about Jackass that got me freaked: With the caliber of popular media descending by the year, I sometimes wonder just how far away we are from death billed as entertainment. It almost seems inevitable at this point – the return of the gallows in the town square, or gladiators kind of thing. If these Jackass guys keep on going the way they are, it’s inevitable that one of them is going to die in the middle of a stunt. And of course the cameras will be rolling when it happens. And someone at MTV is going to have to decide what to do with the footage – to air it or not. Will have to decide whether to break the envelope for the ratings or not.
Music: King Crimson :: 21st Century Schizoid Man