James Parker on Jackass

Also see:
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.

Jennie Rothenberg Gritz is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where she edits digital features.

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