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Film and Media Studies | Gender and Sexuality


In Jackass: Number Two (2006), Bam Margera allows Ryan Dunn to brand his posterior with a hot iron depicting male genitalia. Bam cannot tolerate the pain enough to remain perfectly still, so the brand touches him several times, resulting in multiple images that seem blurry or in motion. Bam’s mother, who usually plays the role of game audience for his antics, balks when she learns that her son has been hurt as well as permanently marked. She asks Dunn why anyone would ever burn a friend. “Cause it was funny,” Dunn answers.[i]

Jackass mines the body in pain as well as the absurd and the taboo, often dealing with one or more of the body’s abject excretions. Jackass offers no compelling narrative arc or cliffhangers, presenting instead a series of discrete segments that explore variations on the singular eponymous focus of the show: playing the fool. This deliberate idiocy is the show’s greatest strength, and its excesses seem calculated to repeatedly provide the viewer with a mix of schadenfreude, horror, and disbelief. Like Bam’s mother, we watch and we recoil.


This is the author's pre-print of the following article:

Tourino, C. M. (2015), The Leisured Testes: White Ball-Breaking as Surplus Masculinity in Jackass. The Journal of Popular Culture., which will be published in final form at doi: 10.1111/jpcu.12227.

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