Johnny Knoxville’s Letters To His Brother.
At the root of the “Jackass” project is an impulse to deny the superego and approach the universe, with all its hard edges and shark-infested waters, as an enormous, undifferentiated playpen. That, and the impulse to watch a 400-pound woman belly-flop on top of a midget.
—Nathan Lee, New York Times review of Jackass Number Two
22 September 2006
Jackass Number Two premiered today, and imagine my delight upon reading the astute, uplifting review by Nathan Lee of the New York Times (highlighted clipping enclosed). Could it be that someone in this vast, indifferent universe truly understands the bittersweet post-Freudian struggle that I have so long expressed in my work? Yes, the diminutive gentleman whom Lee mentions is technically a dwarf, but no matter; the important thing is that my voice is being heard! And to think that just yesterday Steve-O called my proposal to stuff my entire head in an elephant’s rectum “contrived.” (I had not even gotten to the part in which I retrace Hannibal’s route across the Alps.) I believe Steve-O’s heart may no longer be in the work, Theo. Last week, before sliding naked down a log flume flanked with razor wire, he smeared his body with shaving cream to “protect against nicks and cuts” (his words). Where is the artistic purity?
24 September 2006
Distracted today. Although juggling porcupines normally would command my undivided concentration, I cannot help but analyze the implications of the “midget” reference. As Wee Man confirmed, “midget” is an antiquated term for a proportional dwarf; clearly our dwarf was anything but proportional, so why the contradiction? By using carnival terminology, is Mr. Lee suggesting that my work merely recapitulates, rather than deconstructs, the 19th-century freak show? Does he mean to subliminally impose a formalist aesthetic on my self-consciously asymmetric mise en scène? Did the camera angle unintentionally create the illusion of proportion? If so, the irony is not lost on me, but does this not change the entire meaning of the sequence, and, by extension, the film? Perhaps I should have used a quadriplegic.
29 September 2006
I am in love! It happened during a promotional stunt in the Caribbean. You may recall that I planned to have unprotected sex with 300 consecutive Haitian prostitutes, but Aphrodite herself stopped me cold at number 267. After the shoot, Giselle and I spent a blissful afternoon riding in the centrifuge of a local sugar refinery, and discovered that we share passions for Alsatian cuisine, Puccini opera, and stapling our lower lip to roof shingles. Although we have known each other for only a few days, I can already imagine Giselle bearing our children, perhaps while hanging from a bungee cord over a nest of Mexican pit vipers. Who would have thought I could harbor such quaint domestic fantasies?
P.S. Reshot the belly-flop sequence using a proportional dwarf. Lee was right; it makes much more sense now.
8 October 2006
Reached an epiphany on the dwarf sequence: the illusion of proportion was coming not from the dwarf himself but from the relative disproportion of the 400-pound woman, whose breasts and abdominal rolls differ substantially in size and shape. Experimented with less portly subjects but discovered it was better to go to the other extreme: women over 600 pounds are essentially spherical, thereby drawing attention to the dwarf’s irregular limbs (a metaphor, I realize now, for America’s growing socioeconomic inequality). Also, they sound funnier on impact.
I fear Steve-O may be resentful of Giselle. Yes, she is not part of the regular crew, but when I let her tag along as we ran through an Alabama forest in deer costumes on the first day of hunting season, S. complained incessantly that Giselle’s antlers were upstaging him. Even absorbing a round of buckshot to the thigh did little to boost his mood. That night, in a gesture of fraternity, I snuck into his bedroom and immersed his scrotum in a cup of liquid nitrogen, but he just turned over and sighed. Fortunately, others in the crew, especially Wee Man, have welcomed Giselle into the fold; tonight the three of us enjoyed a scrumptious dinner of moules provençales, climbed a heap of scrap metal, and admired the stars. Ah, simplicity.
16 October 2006
Despair! Giselle has left me! She and Wee Man ran off together in the dead of night, according to the note she engraved into my buttocks with a welding torch. How could I have been so blind—apart from the fact that I recently spray-painted my eyeballs black? In a fit of self-loathing, I cut off my left ear, but, surprisingly, the bleeding was far too contained to register on the big screen, so I tried the right one as well, only to learn that the cameras had not been rolling. One thing led to another and suffice it to say that I am writing this letter by clenching the pen in my one remaining nostril. Please excuse any illegible markings.
27 October 2006
This will be the last letter I write to you. I cannot live without Giselle, so I shall end my life with one final act of devotion. First, I will ride against traffic on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, sitting naked on the horn of an amphetamine-cranked rhinoceros. At a predetermined point I will backflip off the rhino and into an authentic medieval catapult, which will hurl me into a head-on collision with a 600-pound woman (launched from a cannon), which will, in turn, send me reeling into a giant turbine of rotating machete blades. As the blades hack me to bits, the resulting parts will spew onto a barge in the East River, igniting GPS-guided fireworks that will shoot through Wee Man’s apartment window and explode over their bed, spelling Giselle’s name across the ceiling and almost certainly setting the building on fire. Please tell Jeff Tremaine to film this in hi-def, and to use multiple cameras, as retakes will be impractical.
P.S. Do you think I should work in a dwarf?
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