Welcome to Jackass: The history and charisma of America’s vilest bunch

Johnny Knoxville sports a sly smirk at the premiere of “Jackass 3.”

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Johnny Knoxville sports a sly smirk at the premiere of “Jackass 3.”

Will Fairman, Staff Contributor

For the past 20 years, the Jackass crew has entertained millions with their outlandishly gross gimmicks and death-defying stunts. In their latest movie, “Jackass Forever,” the wild troupe takes their antics to new heights while staying true to the signature scenes of the franchise. Debuting at the No. 1 spot in the box office, the aging cast made sure to bring their A-game to what was potentially their last showing. 

But their fame did not always come this easy.

In the late 90s, Johnny Knoxville was a struggling actor living paycheck to paycheck in a scroungy Los Angeles apartment. In an act of desperation, Knoxville was contracted to film short movies in which he would test self-defense devices on his person. His agonizing reactions to pepper spray and his viral nut-cup bit earned him nationwide fame. 

Eventually, entertainment giants such as SNL and Comedy Central were vying for the rights to create a television series centered around the voluntary self-mutilation of Knoxville and his chosen cast. However, the up-and-coming star stuck to his cultural roots and chose MTV. After three seasons of amazing ratings and unprecedented viewership, he cut ties with the dying company and moved to the big screen. 

With cast members such as Steve-O, Ryan Dunn, Bam Margera, Wee-Man and Chris Pontius, Jackass was always destined for success. Simply put, they were willing to do anything to top each other’s stunts, whether it meant hopping into a ball pit full of anacondas or sticking a toy car where the sun doesn’t shine. 

This intense yet purely comedic rivalry quickly created a strong sense of kinship among the group. Their love and care have ventured beyond the screen as well. In fact, Steve-O recounted how during a period of intense drug abuse, “Johnny Knoxville and a bunch of our ‘Jackass’ crew staged an intervention and they forcibly locked me up in a psychiatric ward.” 

People often question Jackass’s ability to attain success time and time again. From a fan’s perspective, it is obvious how their relationships not only make for sellout movies, but also shed a much needed light on the importance of friendship. “Jackass Forever” evidences this fact all the more. 

Serving as perhaps the final product of 20 years of intense work and collaboration, “Jackass Forever” leaves many fans content with the fact that this may be the end. Lifelong fan and senior Alex Blackwell commented, “In the strangest way possible, this movie was a beautiful means of conclusion to a franchise which has both continuously captured and stopped the hearts of millions of Americans.” 

Whether or not one is a fan or a newcomer to the franchise, “Jackass Forever” is a must-see emotional rollercoaster full of hilariously outrageous bee stings, barf and brotherhood.