By now, pretty much everybody knows that Ryan Dunn from CkY and Jackass died yesterday, and the issue has been discussed to death, but I don't care. I want to talk about it, myself. I was surprised by how bummed out I was when I found out. Bobby posted a link to the news story on my Facebook, and my heart instantly dropped. It was weird. What/why the hell do I care?
HERE'S why I care: As absolutely weird and gross and stupid the stuff he did was, I think it was all really great.
I remember getting the first CkY (precursor to Jackass) video as a bootleg VHS. I think I still have it, it's pretty much unwatchable. My family had just recently moved to New Jersey, and I was pretty angry, so this bootleg tape helped me make friends with people who also knew about it. I think I was about 14 years old, and I'd never laughed so goddamn hard at something in my life. It was just a bunch of dudes being idiots. It looked like they basically just had a camcorder and fucking weird, funny ideas. It was essentially Looney Toons with humans. Hilarious. It starred Bam Margera, Ryan Dunn, and Brandon Dicamillo. I think I forgot about it almost instantly.
Then Jackass came out and it included all the guys from CkY and more. Now they had Johnny Knoxville (pretty much Bugs Bunny) as their accidental leader. The show was hilarious, and I mostly remember watching it at 3:00am when I couldn't sleep. The show was really actually kind of quiet, so when I think about that show, I think about how silent everything around me was, except for when somebody got hurt and I'd frantically turn down the volume. Stupid moron kids started imitating the show though, and hurting themselves, so the show was cancelled. This was the first real controversy surrounding the show. I knew that it wasn't reasonable to blame the stupidity of these kids on the show, and I always talked about just that with friends, but there was always the nagging truth that by having a popular show on television, those guys (whether they wanted it or not) had become role models. Which is weird. I can laugh at a dude jumping off a building holding an umbrella without wanting to try it myself.
Things, for me, started getting really interesting at this point. After the TV show ended, a couple of spin off's popped up. One was a nature documentary starring two of the Jackass guys, and the other was a sort of reality show following Bam Margera's life, and Bam had been friends with Ryan Dunn since they were kids. Ryan was in, I think, every single episode, and instead of just having 3 minute skits, there was a full storyline for each episode, and you started seeing what these guys were actually like. Bam Margera is a real asshole. I think he's really funny, but I also really hate how much he loves himself. And I hate that he wears top hats without a shirt on and shit. He's an ass. Everything in Bam's life rotates around doing what he wants to do, except for Ryan Dunn, who will make fun of Bam and sort of take him down a peg. It turned out that Ryan Dunn was just as crazy as Bam, and just as willing to hurt himself to make his friends laugh, but he also seemed to have a side of him that couldn't help but acknowledge how stupid it all was. He was sarcastic, but he always stuck around. More than all that, really, was that Bam's parents were a huge part of the show, and you could really tell that they loved Ryan and Ryan loved them. That wasn't the point of the show, but that's the vibe that exists behind all the other bullshit.
Then they did the movies, which were all really funny, but they were now tinged with the fact that you'd seen a little more of everyone's personalities. It made them more accessible and amusing. They also started making sure that, for each segment, everybody was around. Instead of one guy hurting himself in silence, now all of his friends would be there, laughing at him. By the end of the third movie, you really got the sense that these guys were all really good friends, and they just wanted to have fun and make each other laugh. I don't give a shit what you say about those movies. I know they're gross (LOTS of poop) but I'll defend them to the goddamn death, because you NEVER see genuine friendship in a movie. During the credits of the third movie, all of the Jackass guys sing the song Memories with Weezer. I hate that song, and I'd heard it before I saw the movie, so when I heard it starting up, I groaned, but then I had to change my mind. The credits of the movie, while everyone is singing the song, go person-by-person through the whole cast. They show a baby picture of each guy, then a picture of them as a teenager, then a little older, and older, and older, and then it's a current photo. By pretty much the 3rd picture of each guy, they're instantly recognizeable, because suddenly you're reminded of what these guys looked like 10+ years ago. It brought me back to that stupid bootleg tape.
It's like when you know someone really well in real life, and then you see a picture from a few years ago, and it's alien. You were too close to see the gradual change in them. That's exactly what happened during the credits. I didn't realize that I'd accidentally been consistently watching these guys for so long.
So I was really bummed out when I found out Ryan Dunn died. I don't think I ever thought about him unless I was watching a show/movie he was in, but there was something about having to acknowledge that after having watched him do shit for years, he was dead. I'm sure there was also something in there about how much he's hurt himself before without lasting effect vs. how he burst into flame and died, but I don't care to examine that.
It's really fucked up. Reallllly fucked up. Everything about it. What he was doing, how it happened, and the aftermath of it. So we all know that he tweeted a picture of himself drinking at a bar just hours before he was pronounced dead on the scene. We all know that he had a passenger with him, who also died. Everybody on the internet (who had an opinion) went insane. Some people were arguing that he was an asshole for speeding while drunk with a passenger. They called him a murderer and said that this is what you get when you live your life like a Jackass. Some people thought it was a failed stunt for a fourth movie. Some people said that he was a great guy, and he was so funny, and they can't believe he's dead. Some people said they didn't want to consider that he was drunk or speeding until it was indisputably proven. I think I was basically saying all of those things.
Knowing all the facts now, I have to say that I really liked Ryan Dunn, and I still do. I think that he was hilarious and down to earth and entertaining as hell, but you can't forgive the dumb fucking decisions he made on Sunday. He was stupid that night. And his actions got not just himself, but a friend killed. It's unreasonable to deny that. But I have a lot of crazy thoughts about death, and the BEST thing about this situation is that he probably only had a few moments of worry and pain. Everything before that was partying and being crazy like he got paid and honored to do his whole life. Death is great for the dead. He doesn't have to deal with the fallout of what happened that night. It's over for him. He had a crazy great life and blew himself up. So that's all great for him, but what about the people who cared about him who are left here without him?
Another huge issue around his death has been the media outcry over how irresponsible and senseless his death was. Again, it wasn't just him. He caused the death of a friend, who was recently married. I'm sure that you all read what Roger Ebert said, "Friends don't let Jackasses drive drunk." He's right, but I think the tone of the message was off, as was the timing (the day of the crash). Bam Margera, who had until then not publicly spoken, bashed Roger Ebert on Twitter, talking about how he was crying his eyes out all day and said that Ebert should keep his fat mouth shut. Aside from evidently not knowing that Ebert's mouth hasn't been fat in a long time, I think that Bam is ALSO right. It really fucking pissed me off that everybody decided that this was now a fight or debate between Bam Margera and Roger Ebert. Everyone was debating online who was right, whose argument was more valid. But Bam Margera wasn't making a fucking argument, he was upset.
A friend of his who he'd grown up with had just died in so violent a way that he was identified by only his tattoos and facial hair. I mean, for all I know, the coroner wasn't a fan, but I feel like this might mean that Ryan Dunn was otherwise unrecognizable. He was mangled. Bam Margera telling Roger Ebert to shut up was not his way of condoning driving drunk or something, he was reacting to the fact that he didn't like his friend being referred to as a jackass on the day he died. Just as a side note, why exactly did Roger Ebert need to throw in his advice? Kind of unnecessary. Whatever.
So today I watched footage of Bam Margera going to the scene of the accident. He's clearly inconsolable. He's just shaking and crying, and blubbering, and he's fucking entitled to. I've read so many comments about the appearance on the internet today, talking about how Bam is weird and weak, and Ryan Dunn deserved to die, drunk drivers should go to hell, etc, but it pisses me off, because he wasn't there to show off or defend his friend, he was there to mourn. He was upset. You're allowed to be upset. It's almost like we expect life to move as quickly as information moves on the internet. "Christ, it's been TWO DAYS already, get over it Bam!" It's unfair. It's bullshit. I don't like Bam Margera, but he can cry as much as he fucking wants, and he can say whatever the fuck he wants without it being interpreted as an official statement. Death sucks.
People are assholes. They're insensitive. And in this case, it's like they're trying to fight for logic and sanity by saying that Ryan Dunn deserved to die because he drank and drove and killed, but then they turn that logic into a reason for why no one should care. You can have it both ways. I'm really fucking angry at how stupid Ryan Dunn was. He killed himself and a friend, and it's a goddamn lucky thing that he didn't hit anyone else on his way down the road. He could have. But I still liked him, he was still somebody that I got to know (in a limited fashion) over the course of years. I think we forget the impact of death.
I used to work at a TGI Fridays, and when I was there one day, I got the news that my grandmother died. I've never been the best at showing weakness in public, so when I walked to the back office, in a daze, I told my bosses what had happened in a really monotone way, with no expression on my face. Like a sociopath, basically, but what can you do? Now, I feel like two things must have happened in this moment:
1: My bosses realized that I was speaking different than usual
2: I kind of don't think they believed me. To this day I'm pretty sure they thought I was fucking lying to skip out on the last couple of hours of work.
I think this because they asked me if I could run to the store for them before I went home.
Assholes. Fucking assholes.
I was confused, because in the moment, I didn't process their reaction as skepticism, it seemed more like my grandmother's death wasn't a big deal to them, especially when they were running out of milk!!
I stammered a little and asked if there was ANYONE else that could go, because I wanted to come home and be with my family. They told me there wasn't. The next thing I knew I was standing in a fucking Walmart. I'd been convinced it wasn't important. I'd been royally fucked over because of how cynical they were.
We're all too fucking cynical. Myself included. It's not great.
Next time I'll just write about Nintendo or something.