Jackass 3-D obliterated the American box office over the weekend, taking in some $50 million; a full $20 million above expectations. This surprised Perez Hilton (“I guess some people love to be grossed out,” he mused), but the movie’s success must come to the particular chagrin of Slate movie critic Dana Stevens, who used her review of the movie to thank the heavens that she gave birth to a girl instead of a boy.
She ascribes her distaste for Jackass’ varied feats of violent scatologically inflected stupidity to the dictates of gendered neuro-chemistry: “Watching a human body hit the ground at high speed, headfirst, in slow motion, feels stomach-churningly awful to me; whatever region of my brain is supposed to guffaw at the other guy’s misfortune is, for better or worse, chemically inaccessible.”
Even in all her wryness, it’s hard to disagree with Stevens. There is something particularly male about the exploits of these guys. And I thank Stevens, because just as she opts out of explaining with much reason beyond her gender why she can’t stand the movie, I too can feel relieved from explaining my irresistible compulsion to see it.
I could spout off a lot of academic-ick about Jackass expressing Thanatos for a generation of cloistered suburbanites born to remap meaning upon a geography of inconsequence. But that would be a disingenuous way to skirt the issue. Really, I laugh every time I see a man get kicked in the crotch, and I have no idea why. Jackass evokes an essential dudeliness that is a part of me whether I like it or not. It is a dumb-lust that must be satisfied, and I appreciate Stevens for giving me the space to not think about much more than that.