Jeff Smith noon, March 8
What is more shocking: the fact that one of the Jackass cast members has died or that it took this long for it to happen? As hard as it is to muster much sympathy for anyone whose drunken driving claims the life of an innocent victim, I must admit to feeling deeply saddened by the news of Ryan Dunn's fatal accident.
He was one of the stars of the MTV reality show that spawned three hugely successful feature films. When it comes to Jackass, I own copies of every TV show, every feature, every everything. I was the first kid on the block to discover the series (all things lowbred and socially unaccepatable find me) and couldn't wait to "research" one of the show’s rude progenitors. Jackass is a kinder, gentler version of Bam Margera’s supremely mean-spirited CKY (Camp Kill Yourself) videos. (Four DVD volumes exist. Get to work!)
I have spent a good portion of the past ten years attempting to position the Jackass boys and their daredevil amusements as the logical heirs apparent, not just to the stuntmen-dependent Three Stooges, but absolute cinematic athletes like Buster Keaton and Jackie Chan…give or take any sense of formal finesse and with an abundance of projectile dung, ill-tempered penned animals, and dick jokes. Other than that, the only thing the Jackass clan have in common with Keaton and Chan’s meticulously-executed frames is that they all eventually run through a projector.
It was through the CKY videos that American audiences first met Ryan Dunn. He was born in Medina, Ohio, and grew up in Williamsville, New York. While still in his early teens, Dunn and his parents moved to West Chester, Pennsylvania, where he eventually hooked up with friend and fellow Jackass Bam Margera.
Dunn's contributions to the series were incalculable. Whether it be driving a bicycle off the roof of a house, bouncing a speeding golfcart off the top of a giant miniature golf course pig, or bringing his Hot Wheels-filled rectum in for an emergency room X-ray, Ryan Dunn was a stalwart footsoldier in the Jackass army, always ready, if not always eager, to take one for the team.
In addition to his Jackass legacy, Dunn starred in Margera's feature film, Haggard, as well as appearing on MTV's Viva La Bam and hosting the shows Homewrecker and Proving Ground, the latter making its premiere six days before his death.
At around 3:30 a.m. on June 20, 2011, and just a few hours after Tweeting a barroom photo of himself and fellow fatality Zachary Hartwell throwing back a few, Dunn drove his Porsche 911 GT3 off the road and into a tree. According to TMZ, the car was "fully engulfed in flames" when West Goshen Township police arrived on the scene. Drunk driving was the only stunt Ryan Dunn couldn't walk away from. He was all of 34 years old.
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