Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Dumbass Jackass

Marissa came upstairs late Tuesday night to give me the news that one of the Jackass actors, Ryan Dunn, had been killed in a car crash.  Sticky with sweat from the baseball game we had just come home from and about to slink back into my office to get back to work on a report that was due the next morning, I didn't give it much thought really after she told me it wasn't related to the show/movies - he was just driving too fast.  But the next morning, there was a sizable obituary for the Pennsylvania resident that I sat down to read, and I realized he had someone in the car with him, and I got to thinking it over...and then I got mad.

They say you shouldn't speak ill of the dead, and I do feel badly for him.  I could not help but imagine what their last moment's were like, and what must have been going through their minds.  I understand the trauma to the bodies was pretty severe, so I hope they didn't feel much, that it was all too quick for real pain to set in.  And I definitely am not in agreement with the fringe Christian group that has come out with plans to protest his funeral and proclaimed that he is in hell.  But, the longer trauma and the never-ending pain now begins for his family, and that sort of pisses me off.

Here's the thing:  I've thought a lot over the last two years about the responsibility we have to one another as human-beings, particularly and most especially to our families.  At 34, Mr. Dunn was no child, but he was a son, he was a brother, and he was a friend.  I don't know if he was a husband or father, I tend to think not or the column would have said, and who could have tolerated raising a child with a daredevil like that?  But, regardless:  he was not isolated in the world.  He flirted with danger as a career.  I am sure that is a high like no other to a Type A personality.  And I am sure he rationalized that he was an adult, he wasn't hurting anybody else (besides other consenting adults who were more extreme), and he could therefore do as he pleased.  But, is that true?  Ask his family today if he was the only one hurt.  Hell, ask the family of the person riding with him.  And for what?  What possible purpose did his death serve?  (Actually, I hope it scared some crazy-ass teenager who has seen the movies a few too many times into not following in his footsteps...but who knows.)

I'm familiar with the show.  It was in its hey-day when my kids were in the target demographic.  I didn't like that they watched it, but unlike a lot of parents, I picked certain battles to fight and conceded to some others.  What I did believe is that I needed to understand the culture to pick which battles to wage.  So I would listen to the music, watch the shows, read some of the magazines and look at the websites, figure out what they were likely to sneak around to listen/watch anyway and then cast my judgments.  That's why I have Linkin Park and Fall Out Boy in my iPod - sometimes I found I liked what was popular.  I was a teenager once with difficult parental relationships - I understood the lyrics.  I was sort of fascinated that they were now directed at people like me.  Sometimes, however, what I saw and heard just made me despair for the human race (The Real World, Korn and The Spice Girls as examples).  Jackass falls into that latter group.  What purpose that show served is considerably beyond my ability to grasp.   I know young men like to pull stunts.   This is as old as time.  My dad had some stories that were actually somewhat shocking (the fact that he would tell me about them is probably more shocking still, but I was a girl, so I think he thought I was immune to the setting-things-on-fire phase and was a safe audience).  So maybe you could argue that watching other idiots do it on TV is safer than trying it yourself.  My guess: not really.  Just fuel to the adolescent fire.  I wonder how many amateur versions of Jackass-ian stunts have pimply faced boys aged 14-17 pulled without benefit of fire trucks and ambulances standing by?

But the actors survived it all and to the tune of considerable bank.  Seems like they would have wizened with age and slowed it down.  Apparently not so.  And two men are now dead as a result of that mindset.  I think, at 34,  Dunn was old enough to understand that free will is a good thing, a thing to be protected, but you have to temper that against being a member of society and realizing how your actions impact others.  Have the freewill not to be a total idiot, in other words.  He owed it to the parents who coddled him through chicken pox and his first broken heart, who paid for his skateboard shoes and tolerated what I am sure was a nightmare teenager.   I don't know that much about the man personally, but I'm sure I could go on.  He definitely owed it to whoever else might have been in his path that fateful night.

I've been on both sides of the fence here.  I've felt the yawning, black hole of loss that having a child die before you brings.  I've know the feeling, as a result, of not really caring much what happens to you.  But, I had to buck it up because I have responsibilities to my loved ones.  And, honestly, there were some days that it was the only reason I did.  This guy, which I hope is not truly hell-bound, did play cards with the devil all the time it seems.  Sometimes the devil wins the hand.   How stupid do you have to be not to realize that?  And, if he simply didn't care, then shame on him for shirking the love of his friends and family.  And maybe shame on them for not understanding what might have been underlying all that stupid stunt stuff.  Whatever it is, two people are dead today.  Two families are devastated.  What a waste.

If you can save someone from pain, you should do it in my humble opinion.   And pain comes in all manner of packages.  If you're reading this and you have a dare devil streak in you, just remember that it's not all about you.  Just walking out the door in the morning is a risk, so I'm not saying to hide in fear.  Allow yourself to experience life and have some adventures, just temper them with common sense.  Just please don't be a Jackass.

1 comment:

  1. dude, how can you slam the Spice Girls? they were, like, awesome!!!!!@!@#$!!!!

    I'm just kidding. you know that. I didn't even like them when they were "cool" to like. I just decided to comment on that because that's as far into this entry as I've read right now hahahaha