The Seeker

A Meta-Cognitive Journal About Writing… Plus Other Stuff

Jackassaninity

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Jackass 3D made boxoffice history last weekend, registering $50 million in its opening.  No other film has opened so strongly in October.  I helped out by plunking down $8 Saturday afternoon.  I’d been itching to see the movie for a few weeks now for reasons that had a lot to do with me turning 40 and still pining for aspects of undergraduate life.  I obviously wasn’t the only one with the itch:  There was a decent crowd in the theatre for a weekend matinee, even though only two were women.

It was money well spent; at least $2.67 of it.  Much like the two previous films, approximately 1/3 of what they pull off is absolute genius–inspired, funny, insightful, creative; another 1/3 is just stupid; the final 1/3 is little more than disgusting.  The remaining $5.33 wasn’t a waste–it was worth it to see the other stuff.  I’ve thought for years now that the Jackass crew pulls some great gags, and it’s their gags I enjoy the most.  The gem in this installment involved Wee Man having drinks at a bar with a midgette; they appear to be on a date.  Before long, there’s a confrontation between Wee Man and his date’s boyfriend (also a midget).  It escalates into a fight–the boyfriend brings in a posse of midgets, and they commence to whaling on Wee Man.  The other bar patrons back off and watch the mayhem.  Before long, the cops storm in to break things up.  The cops are all midgets.  Paramedics arrive on the heels of the cops.  The paramedics are all midgets.  I was wiping my eyes from laughing so hard.

The Jackass phenomenon has been endlessly analyzed for the last decade as it has dug a niche in pop culture.  Most people agree that the appeal lies almost entirely with men, most of whom are seeking little more than the satisfaction that comes from watching a group of buddies get away with stuff we all wish we could get away with.  I admit without hesitation that I fit that demographic.  There are few things I would love more than to plan schemes, set up gags and stunts, and then execute them just for the hell of it.  There’s no shame in this as a writer; the Jackass phenomenon began with Johnny Knoxville performing crazy stunts like getting hit by cars or returning punts against a college football team, and then using the experiences as a basis for articles he pitched to various publications.  Jackass, then, is essentially gonzo journalism on film.

No less unsettling than the Jackass crew’s most disgusting stunts was the trailer I saw for the Coen brother’s remake of True Grit.  This worries me on several levels.  Primarily, they are treading on sacred ground.  True Grit is a hallmark western; it finally earned John Wayne an Oscar for Best Actor, and is renowned for the climax that cannonized Wayne and his tough guy personages:  His character Rooster Cogburn barrels on horseback across an open meadow, reins in his teeth, bearing down on a group of baddies as he fires a pistol in one hand and a rifle in the other.  Only John Wayne could pull off the spectacular larger-than-life scene.  True Grit came to us in 1969, which was a peculiar time in that Hollywood was caught up in a reactionary trend.  Dozens of films came out in the surrounding years that featured the lone symbol of justice, the right-wing bastion of all that was right and proper about staunch conservatism, flying in the face of the feel-good hippy counterculture.  I wrote about this two years ago when I posted Six Reasons Why Men Love Dirty Harry.

So it worries me that the socio-political environment in which the first film was released is not typical of what is happening today.  The film will be out of context, which doesn’t bode well.  It worries me even further that a quality actor like Jeff Bridges would try to recreate the role that defined the quintessential American movie icon late in his career.  The role was juicy enough to earn it’s own sequel, Rooster Cogburn.  It was lesser film than True Grit, no doubt, but still worth watching.  If those aren’t enough worries, I’m also worried that the film will be too stylized.  The preview looked too stylized for my tastes, but I’m trying to keep that in the back of my mind because over-stylizing trailers in order to rope in a wide demographic is an old Hollywood trick.

The only thing that is registering positively in my mind about this remake is that the Coen brothers are behind it.  I’ve posted about them before, and their names alone are enough to earn my respect.  I’ll probably see their interpretation of Charles Portis’ book the weekend it opens.

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Written by seeker70

October 19, 2010 at 6:55 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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