Episode 120: Magical Realist Jackass-scape

The Overthinkers Tackle the 20th anniversary of IMDb, Jackass 3D, high-culture fart jokes, and mortification of the flesh.

Matthew Wrather hosts with Peter Fenzel, Mark Lee, and Jordan Stokes to overthink IMDb’s 20th anniversary, the cinematic masterpiece Jackass 3D, the move from obscure to mainstream culture, and the cultural meaning of mortification of the flesh.


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10 Comments on “Episode 120: Magical Realist Jackass-scape”

  1. Sylvia #

    Fun fact: Steve-O is a graduate of the Barnum and Bailey clown college.


    • Sylvia #

      Why I shouldn’t comment during the podcast. I have more to say.

      In answer to Mark’s are there other Jackass types globally: Japanese game shows; The Dudesons on US TV are brothers from Sweden.

      Working backwards: Romancing the Stone is worth watching because I’ve heard it’s a good movie, and a remake has been announced. Also, I would watch Amadeus over Beverly Hills Cop.


  2. Bob in San Diego #

    Personally I would love a totally trashy Celebrity Hookup database. You could look up a starlett, see who they were married to, dated, had a date, confirmed and possible ‘hook ups’. It would be interesting to see

    (All the rest is just example not based in fact) – wow, Christina Agulara only has three hook ups before getting married while Natile Portman has 37, I didn’t see that at all (again, not based in fact, just something interesting you would find at CHDB.com – tm).

    Also it would be fun to see if there was ‘Kevin Bacon’ of dating. My guess – Wilmer Valderrama would be the apex and you can get to from Jessica Tandy to him in 4 celebs.


  3. RL #

    Hey, how about an internet database of female characters in pop culture? You could have essays discussing the need for “strong characters, female” instead of “strong females, characters”. With each character’s entry in the database, you could list the tropes that character exemplifies and the ways in which Hollywood fell short of writing her as a realistic person, and the character’s contributions to the perpetuation of gender stereotypes and female objectification. You could even visualize the contents of such a database as a flowchart, and I bet it would become really popular around the internets really quickly. Who knows, it might even elicit criticism from countless self-righteous, humorless feminists who miss the point almost as badly as the Pop Culture establishment misses it.


    • Chris #

      Why, if properly executed, that’s a marvelous idea. I’m all for it. Of course, some people might inexplicably turn it into a race thing, but surely they won’t be able to hijack the conversation and mar the whole endeavor.


  4. Richard #

    Hate to disagree with you guys, but I’m gonna go ahead and say that Jackass is, in fact, a sign of the imminent collapse of Western society after all.

    It’s got a lot less in common with the outbreak of mortification of the flesh by religious types than it does with the work of the Marquis de Sade. Jackass (and I think we can include torture-porn horror in this category too) is much less overtly political than The 120 Days of Sodom, but the cultural urge they represent seems to be the same: portraying the destruction of the body as a way to demystify or dispirit human life, to debunk the idea of life as anything other than physical. Desecrating the body-as-temple, kind of thing. Whereas mortification of the flesh was intended to, in a way, force people to retreat into their souls, Jackass (and Sade) is supposed to lay out for everyone that a person is nothing but a physical object, devoid of inherent value and undeserving of inherent respect. Jackass is the product of the anti-metaphysical urge that’s gaining strength in the West.

    The Marquis de Sade’s writing was contemporaneous around the French Revolution, which replaced a religious tyranny with a (in some ways much worse) irreligious tyranny, with the Reign of Terror and everything, and emerged from the same sort of psychological rebellion against ideas of religious hegemony. Jackass seems likely to prefigure something probably not dissimilar – though probably not as bloody or political, but a psychological revolution against the concept of sacredness or transcendence.


    • stokes OTI Staff #

      “He felt goose pimples clacking all over him as he gazed down despondently at the grim secret Steve-O had spilled all over the messy floor. It was easy to read the message in his entrails. Man was matter, that was Steve-O’s secret. Drop him out a window in a Santa suit and he’ll fall, in a Santa suit. Shoot his junk with a paintball gun, and he’ll bruise. Show him a movie of grown men harming themselves, and he’ll bray, like other kinds of jackasses. The spirit gone, man is a jackass. That was Steve-O’s secret. Nutsack was all.”


  5. Peter Tupper #

    “Mortification of the flesh”-type rituals appear in many different cultures and in many different contexts. Wrather & Co. are right to discern connections between Jackass and the Mondo films, which also connect to the primitivist-initiation films like A Man Called Horse and Avatar. Some people look upon Jackass as a freakshow, others as a form of mental regeneration through physical feats.

    Protestants and anti-Catholics got a lot of mileage out of using flagellation to depict Catholicism as depraved, barbaric and sexually deviant. And the Catholic church itself has always had an ambivalent relationship with mortification, and there have been papal bulls banning lay flagellants. These propaganda texts also influenced early modern pornography, leading to the whole naughty-nun-and-randy-priest genre.


  6. Timothy J Swann #

    Thinking of Wrather’s idea… I think I say a paper version of that bathroom map in this week’s Community (which incidentally, with the Space Mission, was Community doing what it does best).


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