No-one would have believed in the first year of the twenty-first century that our TV screens were being watched by intelligences seemingly far less than our own; that as families busied themselves about their various TV habits, *they* observed and studied, the way a man with a microscope might squash the creatures that swarm and multiple in a drop of water just for fun. With infinite complacency, families went to and fro about the various TV channels, confident of their shows. Yet across the gulf of water, intellects gnarly and cool and unsympathetic regarded our shows with envious eyes and slowly, and surely, drew their plans against us.
Too dramatic? Perhaps not, my thanks to Mr Wells for the inspiration, although I may give the lads from MTV's jackass too much credit, for they were not the first to employ the camcorder to record events and show them on TV. The “You've been framed” type shows had proliferated for years. Of course the plan there was to show mistakes in serious subjects (so to speak) and thus comedy. The Guys from Jackass just took that 'mistakes' idea one step further and created a show based on the mad cap stunts that most of them where doing anyways. It all started with a Skateboarding magazine called Big Brother. It had a segment where said skate boarders would do outrageous and 'stupid' stunts purely for entertainment, the worse they where the better. Spike Jonze and Jeff Tremaine then wanted to expand on the stunts to form a program in itself but it took Johnny Knoxville to crystallize it. The idea was sound, but it was a further year before a network decided to commission a pilot. The network that took them, MTV is the only place that could possibly get away with it. In doing so they created a monster, a rampaging leviathan that has steadfastly refused to go away; it has become part of popular culture, become part of the language, part of life, they are the Jackass Generation. And with them came a string of imitators, despite the fervent warnings before the show starts, some found their own TV show (Dirty Sanchez) others reside firmly on the internet, but all owe their inspiration to Johnny, Steve-O, Chris, Bam, Ryan, Dave, Wee Man, Ehren, Preston, Dimotry and Jeff.
Call it my age, but when the show originally aired I was not a fan, I could not understand why these lads would deliberately do the most idiotic things, worst still I could not fathom why anyone would watch it. Still as their popularity grew so did their understanding of their program. The first season, available for the first time in this set after years of sitting in legal limbo land, was all rather rough an ready with little imagination. The second and third seasons showed a deal of maturity as they honed their art. Finally they were given the chance to film a feature film and vent their most wild fantasies, material that could never be shown on the TV. So as I sit back some five years after the even I must confess to rather enjoying their antics. A steadfast group that pulled off the wildest ideas that are genuinely funny. Their own laughter at their insane attitude also helps and becomes very infectious. There are far too many stunts to list here, and anyone that knows the show will know what to expect, save to say that everything that was ever broadcast, plus a few that were not are available on this set.
The set has an unrated category, however this does not mean it is uncensored. Most of the swear words and all of the nudity is bleeped or blocked as per the TV broadcasts. But curiously enough so is the extra material, including the commentaries. Odd thing though, the F and S words seem fine, but come and sperm are bleeped, go figure. This does not detract from a top class set though. All the original protagonists are reunited to put their views across, be that in the commentaries, that are a riotous affair, or on camera in a 'where are they now' documentary. They, too, seem to have matured a little, looking back on their antics with fond memories. What comes across is the lads were genuine friends with an intense rivalry. Just as Clapton, Bruce and Baker of Cream used to battle it out on stage becoming one of the greatest bands, so to do the lads of Jackass. They constantly strive to up each other, as such create a dynamic show that never fails to impress. The fact that most of the stunts fail (deliberately so) and they follow that failure to its ultimate conclusion makes it all the more funny. Plus the fact that the guy love to prank each other, be that in front of the camera or behind. It is a wild but enjoyable ride, the more you watch the more you want to see and there is plenty to see in this set. Just remember don't try this at home!
The Jackass Generation, like the Punks before them, have managed to buck the establishment and in doing so have become part of that very same establishment. This box set is a must for any fan, and those that hated may to be persuaded to view, it's not as bad as might think, in fact it's pretty damn gnarly. See, I'm not too old.