James Parker on Jackass

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The Jackass Effect by James Parker
The Atlantic, October 2010

How much sense it had all made in the beginning--effortless, miraculous almost, the way the culture had clasped them to its bosom. They came out of the underground in the year 2000 with the limping, surging gait of post-Dogtown skateboarders, which is what they were, most of them, raised in an atmosphere of punk rock and suburban-backyard daredevilry. Jackass, the MTV show, was homemade stunts, pranks, sight gags, loose-limbed exhibitionism, filmed crudely and on the fly. Knoxville, the top banana, slow-voiced and gangly-handsome, had experienced jackass satori while getting himself pepper-sprayed for the skater magazine Big Brother. The moment was ripe, and fellow jackasses were not hard to find.
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Jennie Rothenberg Gritz is The Atlantic's digital features editor. More

Jennie Rothenberg Gritz, an Atlantic senior editor, began her association with the magazine in 2002, shortly after graduating from the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. She joined the staff full time in January 2006. Before coming to The Atlantic, Jennie was senior editor at Moment, a national magazine founded by Elie Wiesel.

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