Why The Jackass Franchise Still Works In The Era Of Cancel Culture, According To Steve-O

Jasper Dolphin and Steve O standing around in marching band uniforms in Jackass Forever.
(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

The world of entertainment has changed a lot since the early days of Jackass at the turn of the century. Even in the span of a little over a decade between the previous film and this weekend’s Jackass Forever, the viewing public has become more conscious about the media it consumes, as well as the celebrities it celebrates and condemns. Some might think the era of cancel culture is a climate that would see such a franchise soundly rejected, but original cast member Steve-O thinks that assumption couldn’t be further from the truth. 

Speaking with the hosts of CinemaBlend's ReelBlend podcast, the constant daredevil celebrated another round of dangerous entertainment heading into theaters this weekend. In-between teasing just how awesome Jackass Forever is, as well as other stunts he’s been tackling outside of the legendary MTV/Paramount series, there was a bit of reflection as to why this legacy means so much. Referring to that legacy and its return in the time of cancel culture, Steve-O told ReelBlend just why he feels Jackass is immune to such a movement: 

If you’re referring to cancel culture and all of that, I think that it’s a real point of pride that Jackass has always been in such a good spirit. There’s never been anything hateful or mean-spirited about anything that we do. As hard of a time as we give each other, and ourselves, we’re attention whores and we love it. We’ll gladly take all of the beatings that we take for the attention that we crave. Outside of that, there’s just nothing negative pointed towards anybody or anything. I think that Jackass has aged particularly well, and I think that Jackass really can thrive. As politically correct of a culture of cancelling people as it can get, I think Jackass is pretty safe, for those reasons.

At face value, any franchise that boasts stunts with such ribald titles as “Sweaty Fat Fucks,” “Keep God Out Of California” and “Midget Bar Fight” feels like it’s bordering on edgelord territory that would kick off internet discourse on opening weekend. Past those labels, Steve-O’s point on the general nature of Jackass is spot on when chronicling the actual content in the various films and episodes that have been made. Johnny Knoxville and his usual band of merry mischief makers never look to politicize or denigrate any demographic.

If anyone’s balls are going to get busted, it’s someone that’s either on the crew or a friendly guest star, like Eric Andre. Though in the case of Jackass Forever’s “Danger” Ehren McGhehey, “a ball” does actually get busted thanks to a stunt rupturing one of his testicles. It’s a result of pushing the stunt spectacle envelope in a movie like Jackass Forever, rather than a personal vendetta. 

Even in terms of the very serious legal proceedings that estranged crew member Bam Margera has filed against the team, the reaction from Johnny Knoxville was one where he wished Bam the best. Declining to air out the dirty laundry in the press, Knoxville’s tactic was one that kept it all in the family. Though we may discover details from various filings and even from Mr. Margera himself, it's not something that is used as an easy topic of discussion by others inside the inner circle. Be it a matter of serious discord or not-so grave chicanery, ill intent is never the goal among the cast.  

The next generation of stars in this decades-old tradition will have to find new and exciting ways to cautiously endanger themselves, while also entertaining the masses. Then again, that was the game plan under the old guard of Steve-O and the original Jackass team, so it’s not like much has changed. While society will continue to evolve and reach for improving what we watch and how we interact with it, the spirit of messing around with friends on camera will continue to be as impish, but heartfelt as it always has been. 

Jackass Forever reintroduces the world to taking a nut shot for the team on the big screen, only at a theater near you. If that's not enough, don't forget about the Jackass 4.5 version we’re supposed to see in the future, which will contain even more fun that you couldn't cancel if you tried. Whenever we have a release date for that project, it'll be added to the ever growing list of upcoming movies you’ll be able to enjoy throughout 2022. 

Mike Reyes
Senior Movies Contributor

CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.