Monday, March 26, 2007

A Cultural Evening

Recently I enjoyed an evening of entertainment and culture as I undertook to view the film Jackass as it screened on late night television.

Fig 1

It is a simple film, yet deceptive in its simplicity, as it masks a number of enduring cultural themes: familiar relations, friendship and comraderie, the relationship between man and nature,
and running into hard objects at very fast speeds. Occasionally they fall on hard objects at fast speeds too, or get hit with hard objects, insert hard objects into their body, or... but let's not get bogged down in petty details.

In one scene, the beauty and fragility of the American wild is evinced as one of the merry pranksters puts a fully-grown crocodile into his parents house. And yet, the scene is heartfelt, too: the jolly jape is is merely carried out in order to get his mother to say 'fuck' for the purposes of the film. Thus the great and noble tradition of the family in culture ('Little House on the Prairie', 'Tom Sawyer', 'The Simpsons') is continued.
In another touching family scene, another of the chaps bursts into the toilet while his rather corpulent father squats upon the john, screaming and shouting. He then removes the shirt from the back of his pater familias, who continues to squat there in a Buddha-like position. After some moments, a thought occurs to the old fellow, and he calls to his wife: "I think the boy is finally losing it."

This is not to say, however, that this movie does not touch upon the stylistic works of other artists. For instance, in the scene 'Monster Truck Disco', the chaps dance to disco music in the back of a truck that is cutting corners at very fast speeds. This scene is at once a tribute to the work of Gloria Gaynor, in that Gloria Gaynor had something to do with disco music. And yet it also references the work of Jean Paul Sartre and his fellow existentialists: for although the chaps are dancing to disco music in the back of a truck driving at very fast speeds, we do not know why they are doing it.
In several other scenes, the thriving cultural influences of Asia are referenced, as the fellows dance semi-naked through the streets of Japan, or roller-skate through the streets of Japan dressed as gigantic pandas (see Fig 1, above.)
There is also a scene where one of the lads rolls through a room full of loaded mouse traps to a gigantic cheese, while dressed in a large mouse suit. Note the significance of production details like costume: in this scene, the large mouse suit is very important, in that it is what the lad is wearing as he rolls through the mouse traps.

And yet, for all this, the movie is unpretentious. Time and again, it returns to the simple joys: seeing the lads put sharks into their underpants, give one another bungie-wedgies, punch and kick one another, get fired at with live ammunition, place firecrackers in their neither regions, put crocodiles on their nipples, and drive at very fast speeds about abandoned parks into gigantic plastic animals.

In years to come, when my grandchildren sit upon my knee and ask me whether I saw Jackass: The Movie, I will squint my eyes, look far back into the past, puff on my pipe reminiscently, and say, "Yes: I saw Jackass: The Movie. Which is to say I was in the room and the television was on at that time. How dare you ask your grandfather questions like that? And did you see my dentures this morning? And have you remembered to sign up for Chairman Rudd's youth rally? You know what the party will do if you don't go. And was it you that put the crocodile in my old folks home bathroom yesterday?"

And we will all laugh.

UPDATE: Just cross-posted this here.


Anonymous said...

Yea verily shall we laugh. Those of us who don't have iron lungs by then anyway.

Chairman Rudd indeed. Come Comrade, that's no way to speak about our illustrious leader-in-waiting!

The People have spoken!

(Written and authorised by the Nottlesbean People's Collective #357)

TimT said...

The Nottlesbean People's Collective? Deary me! Don't tell me good old N. has signed up as a working member of Uncle Joe's red army! O darkness, treachery, and despair!

Aside from that, um, how's it going old chap?

alexis said...

It's Nottlesby! And he's gone communist! I don't think there's a confluence of happenings in the conceivable universe that could make me happier. More or less.

TimT said...

He is clearly fraternising with frivolous elements at this College he is attending.

I maintain that once he realises that it's all about singing excerpts from 'Das Kapital' in an off-key voice he'll see the light.

alexis said...

Funnily enough, I've just completed the orchestral score for The Communist Manifesto. Very demanding on the brass section.

Anonymous said...

I am glad to report I'm entirely sound of limb and wind, chaps. Needed a break from the keys for a while to clear the head &c. Would like to say I've been orf rifling buffalo in Montana, or stalking wildebeest with FW De Klerk, but alas I haven't.

Shall bang out a new post or two pronto. Don't want to give away too much in the comment box - and new material is so hard to come by!

Anonymous said...

As for singing great passages from "Das Kapital" - well, I've been working on the old tenor in preparation (not to mention having taken to wearing woolen garments, a rangy, scraggly beard, and a cloth cap). The workers united shall never be defeated and all that ... but by Jove they can still be sacked!

TimT said...

I'll say this much for the massed forces of Socialism, the Internationale is a jolly good sing.

Email: timhtrain - at -

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