The misguided notions that all rules can be broken, that there are no limits, and that the young are indestructible were around long before MTV first aired the Jackass series in 2000.
Tragically, illustrations of just how wrong those ideas can be have always been with us as well.
This week’s reminder was the fiery car crash in Chester County that killed Ryan Dunn, 34, and his passenger, Zachary Hartwell, 30, a recently married war veteran. Dunn was a well-liked member of the Jackass crew whose death has family, friends, and fans mourning nationwide.
Police report that Dunn’s blood-alcohol level was 0.196, nearly 21/2 times the legal limit. He was traveling at speeds up to 140 m.p.h. That is staggeringly reckless behavior, and it has been rightly condemned, if a bit too quickly in some cases.
Film critic Roger Ebert tweeted Monday, “Friends don’t let jackasses drink and drive.”
Hard to argue, but loved ones reeling from such senseless deaths didn’t need to hear it just hours after the crash.
And it led to a bizarre sideshow in which Brandon “Bam” Margera, drum major of the there-are-no-boundaries Jackass parade, delivered an online, profanity-laced lecture on decorum to Ebert.
The more important point about Dunn was raised by Margera’s mother.
“He drove too fast,” April Margera told NBC10 on Monday. “I yelled at him all the time about that.”
With good reason. Dunn had been cited 23 times in the last 13 years on charges of speeding, careless driving, or driving with a suspended license. He was arrested on suspicion of DUI in 2005.
The lessons here are simply the obvious, the things good parents know in their gut. Rules and limits, however maddening and at times unfair, are there for reasons. Our loved ones are heartbreakingly fragile, and all too mortal.
This week, it’s a Jackass star’s turn to remind us of such basic truths.