The brilliance of ‘jackass’

I am not a movie critic. I love movies too much to get downright mean about how bad acting or cinematography was (unless we’re talking about Castaway). I try to see a new flick once or twice a month. And last night, I saw jackass. Critics will tell you exactly what’s wrong with jackass. I’m going to tell you exactly what’s right about jackass.

Here is a movie from a few guys who risk their health (and lives, sometimes) to have a little fun. Their stunts make them crack up laughing, which makes us feel like it’s OK to laugh, too. We all have a twisted side that would love to “Party Boy” dance up on someone, but we don’ t have the guts to carry it out. The jackass guys do.

There’s no plot to this flick. It’s basically an extended version of their 30-minute MTV slot. But it’s uncensored and unabashed, and completely, incredibly, cannot-stress-it-enough hilarious.

Do these guys have wives or girlfriends? I doubt it, since I can’t fathom anyone wanting to be with a guy who hurts himself for fun. But a girl has to admit that Johnny Knoxville is one hot babe. I think his drawing power is that grin — he knows it hurts, and he knows we’re laughing.

I know, I know, so many people are saying this movie is dumb or stupid, and on my way back from the bathroom last night, I ran into folks who were actually leaving. I’ll be the first to admit, when jackass debuted on MTV, I was not impressed. But then I had one of those late nights when you can’t seem to fall asleep, and it was on, and I was hooked. Call them masochistic, sadistic, whatever you want. Anyone brave enough to put meat in his undies and walk a tightrope over an alligator-filled pond is all right in my book.

The thing jackass critics may not understand is that it’s not purely for our entertainment purposes. Knoxville and his band of merry men are doing this for themselves. It just so happened directors, like Spike Jonze, put cameras in front of them, and there you have it, jackass: the movie. They were pulling stunts like this long before MTV or Comedy Central were interested.

And why are we, the American public, and particularly people of college-age, so hyped about this brand of insanity? I don’t know any guys who would want to get shot in the gut with a beanbag-like projectile for fun. The look on Knoxville’s face said it all — he was in serious pain. They make it seem like it’s all fun and games to go off-road tattooing, but who wants some crappy tattoo on his or her arm? Or does it matter when your own likeness is tattooed all over your back? And who the heck wants to feel the ever-popular concussion?

I’ll tell you who — we do. Or I do, anyway. And so did the people who filled the theater at 10:20 on a Sunday night. Same with the people who poured into their local theaters around the country to make jackass No. 1 this weekend. Do we want to get hurt ourselves? Heck no. But we’ll sure have a good time watching somebody else do it.

Jessica Higgins is a junior majoring in mass