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Of Limbaugh, Daschle, Fat Kids, McDonald’s and Jackass: The Movie
by Brian S. Wise
22 November 2002
Think none of those things are connected? Guess again.
There is no good way for a conservative to discuss Jackass: The Movie in depth, because such a discussion suggests he has seen the film, and therefore has special knowledge he can lend to the discussion. Indeed, at whatever risk of damage to my reputation as a conservative, I have seen Jackass: The Movie, enjoyed it immensely, and will be part of a larger group seeing it again. On topic I will agree to these things: 1) The film does not in any way represent a brave intellectual stride forward for either those who made the film or those who watch it. 2) In the broadest possible sense, it’s not best for people to do damage to themselves and property the way the cast of Jackass does, which is why there are safety warnings at the beginning of the film, and even at the beginning of commercials promoting the film. 3) Because it’s generally understood that renting a car and then running it in a demolition derby is not commonly how rational people behave, one trusts that at least in this case the idiocy can be left to the idiots.
Confident in that knowledge I opened one of my electronic mail accounts Friday afternoon to read my daily update as to what was upcoming on The Abrams Report, and saw this: “Could the ‘Jackass the Movie’ or the MTV hit TV show of the same name be responsible for the death of a college student?” One tuning in could hear tale of Adam Ports who, with three friends from Tiffin University, “set a chair on fire and threw it from the back of a moving truck Tuesday night [19 November] while friends photographed the stunt. Ports then jumped or fell from the truck as it sped away on a country road,” according to the Associated Press. The question: Will someone end up suing Paramount Pictures, who released Jackass: The Movie, and perhaps its most notable stars, because an idiot college kid acted his age?
Same song, different verse. Consider now Tom Daschle, who every day seems to be coming closer and closer to a rather astonishing contained lunacy, who suggested this week Rush Limbaugh’s radio show leads to death threats, and occasionally even direct action, against the Left. “What happens when Rush Limbaugh attacks those of us in public life is that people aren’t satisfied just to listen,” explained the future minority leader. “They want to act because they get emotionally invested. And so, you know, the threats to those of us in public life go up dramatically, on our families and on us – in a way, that’s very disconcerting.” Almost as disconcerting as, let’s say, assuming someone who has 20 million listeners a week isn’t a public figure, or that out of those 20 million, nary a death threat has ever been made against the host.
Same song, yet another verse. Fat kids are suing McDonald’s because they’re fat. Some of these gelatinous monstrosities range from such proportions as 5’3”, 200 pounds to 5’9” and 270 pounds, with the topper being said to weigh in at 400 pounds. We are to believe that because they are children, they have no way of knowing mass consumption of fast food can be bad for you physically. Apparently neither do their functionally worthless parents, all of who failed to notice their children were packing on weight like Anna Nicole Smith at a milk chocolate and ice cream buffet, and even if they did failed to say, “Hey Brando, break it up. Mix in a walk and a piece of fruit, will ya?”
What do all three of these stories have in common? At their base, all three are passing the blame for one set of problems off onto innocent people who have nothing to say about them. In the first case, you must tacitly agree that to blame Jackass for some moron teenager suggests there were never such things as teenagers who did dopey things before either the show or movie existed, and that if not for either the show or the movie, Adam Ports would be alive today, which is fantasy. Adam Ports is dead today because of Darwinism, not because of Jackass: The Movie. His death, while a terrible loss for his family and friends, is a step forward for the gene pool. (By the way, filming on my epic film, Jackass: Indiana begins next month. Wish us luck.)
To the second point, to believe Rush Limbaugh’s show leads to death threats or action against the Left (one assumes Daschle is referring to things like the anthrax letter he received) takes many broad and illogical assumptions for granted. The first is that people cannot be insane before they attach themselves to whatever ends up pushing them over the edge. No one has ever rationally said Taxi Driver lead to John Hinckley’s assassination plot against President Carter and the shooting of President Reagan, only that the movie contributed to his delusions. The same could be said of The Catcher in the Rye and Mark Chapman … or any of the string of nuts indirectly attached to Salinger’s best known work.
Unable to make significant progress against either President Bush or Republicans in general on election day, Daschle has dedicated a significant part of each day's press briefing to something a little more irrelevant to the Left's plight. First it was the administration's alleged failure to do significant damage to Al Qaeda (followed by the rather tidy announcement of the noteworthy capture of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashin), then the slap against Limbaugh, who, although he may reach 20 million people a week, has absolutely no say in the political direction of the Senate, and therefore no significant say as to how the nation functions.
Last, a teenager doesn’t go to sleep one night weighing 120 pounds and wake up the next morning tipping the scales at 290; in between those two weights there is a monumental breakdown of standards and supervision, for which McDonald’s simply cannot be blamed. Let’s allow that McDonald’s has never come on television and said, “Look here, kids: Here’s the fat content for our ten most popular items. If you eat them continuously, you’re going to put on a lot of weight.” On the other hand, every McDonald’s restaurant I’ve walked into over the last decade has had, on fairly prominent display, pamphlets outlining all relevant nutritional information, so it’s not as though the fat content in a Big Mac has been a closely guarded secret.
Cases like this make the most substantive arguments imaginable for tort reform. Let the buffoon who files this charge eat the legal bills absorbed by the McDonald’s corporation, and perhaps some forethought would finally be offered to some small portion of their personal lives. Better late than never, some would say; better always than late, responds this columnist, but whatever it takes to shake these intellectual midgets awake, the sooner the better.