“Jackass” star Steve-O recently admitted on Mike Tyson’s “Hotboxin'” podcast (via IGN) that the long-running MTV comedy series deserved to be vilified in its early days for being “legitimately a bad influence” on children. Three seasons of “Jackass” aired on MTV between October 2000 and August 2001. The franchise then took the big screen by storm with four movies and the spinoff film “Bad Grandpa.”
“I think in the beginning of ‘Jackass’ we were genuinely worth vilifying because back then they didn’t have YouTube or video on the internet and we were legitimately a bad influence,” Steve-O said. “When ‘Jackass’ came out, little kids were showing up in hospitals all over the country and maybe the world because they saw us doing this crazy shit and they wanted to do it themselves. So, little kids everywhere got video cameras and started fucking themselves up and showing up in hospitals and getting really hurt.”
“At that time you could really point to us as being a bad influence,” he added. “But I think over the years, because now that there’s so much YouTube, [the MTV series] ‘Ridiculousness,’ so much, it’s not our fucking fault anymore.”
During its original run on MTV, “Jackass” was targeted by senator and Al Gore’s running mate Joe Lieberman for causing teenagers and young adults to hurt themselves in real life. Lieberman went on a campaign urging MTV to cancel “Jackass” after a 13-year-old boy attempted a stunt from the show and was sent to a hospital in critical condition with second and third degree burns.
”It is irresponsible for MTV to air these kinds of stunts on a program clearly popular with young teens,” the senator said in a statement at the time. ”I recognize the program is rated for adults and comes with general disclaimers, but there are some things that are so potentially dangerous and inciting, particularly to vulnerable children, that they should not be put on TV.”
In an interview with Variety earlier this year, “Jackass” co-creator and star Johnny Knoxville said that Lieberman’s crusade against the show is one of the reasons MTV pulled the plug on the series. “We started getting assigned OSHA guys saying, ‘You can’t do this! You can’t jump off anything higher than four feet!’ It was impossible to do the show,” Knoxville said.
Knoxville and Steve-O recently reunited for “Jackass Forever,” the fourth film in the Paramount-backed franchise. The film earned $80 million worldwide at the pandemic box office. The studio has since announced a new “Jackass” series will be coming exclusively to Paramount+ in the future.