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A Tour de Force Symphony of Scat

By Dustin Rowles | Film Reviews | October 15, 2010 | Comments ()


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Approximately mid-way through Jeff Tremaine's chef d'oeuvre, Jackass 3D, a severely obese man dressed in only clear plastic wrap saddled an elliptical machine and began an ordinary exercise routine. As the minutes passed, however, this beached-whale of a gentleman began to perspire. Soon, his diaphoresis was collected in a small plastic container, and another man who goes by the name of Steve O retrieved a Bounty paper towel and wiped this corpulent man down, careful to sweep the towel between the many folds of adipose before, finally, collecting the wetty excretions that had amasssed in between this man's buttocks during his exertion. Afterwards, Mr. O carefully wrung the contents of the paper towel into the container and imbibed in this man's fecal-flecked perspiration, only to be so overcome by the putrid savoriness of the man's sudor that he expelled the contents of his stomach, triggering others in the room to regurgitate the morning's buffet of eggs and Hollandaise sauce.

As this took place, I sat rapt with attention, choking back my own dry heaves, applauding the bravery of the young man so dedicated to his craft that he would drink another man's excretions.This is a new world order, and Jackass is our master.

Minutes later, the same corpulent man planted himself naked, on all fours, in a mud pen, and Steve-O briefly forced an apple into his anus. When the recoil of the elephantine man's sphincter loosened the apple from his buttock's grip, Steve-O once again made accommodations for a bite of that apple inside his lips, decreasing the mass of the fruit enough so that it would fit more snuggly inside the man's anal cavity, where moments later, a pig could snack upon that fecal-smeared orb of sweetness to the immense displeasure of the overweight gentlemen.

Once again, I beat back my own violent disgust and marveled at the sheer complexities of the scene, how it was so ingeniously staged, framed in such a way that we were offered maximum exposure of the proceedings -- the apple, the anus, the pig.

Not to be outdone, however, in a subsequent scene, another man -- buttocks painted green -- pinned his own knees behind his ears and launched his own juicy excrement nearly two feet into the air to simulate the explosion of a volcano; the contents of this man's intestines rained upon a miniature table meant to represent a field of rolling pastures. It was a beautiful sight to behold, as I felt the future of our culture wash over me.

But he, too, would be outdone. Indeed, the piece de resistance of Jackass 3D's bodily function depravity would come in another scene, where a man of many talents eagerly inserted the mouthpiece of a wind instrument into his own anus and successfully played the trumpet using only his flatulence. Subsequently, he also blew a bubble with his rectal wind, and a small man by the name of Wee popped that bubble with his tongue, turned green, and vomitted, a dazzling sequence engineered for our own cheerful entertainment.

Indeed, Jackass 3D is divine comedy, eliciting a symbiosis of good and evil, and challenging our own philosophical cores. Among contemporary directors, even Judd Apatow could not match the raw wit and crude sophistication of this rag-tag crew of mentally disabled men, who urinate on one another for jollies and who use their flaccid penises as bats in tiny games of baseball. It is wholly awe-inspiring, and the 3D effects are masterfully used here to better capture the intensity of the chunky spew that flows out their maws like diarrhea waterfalls, evoking a collision of overwhelming disgust and unstoppable joy.

I haven't even spoken of the stunts, these masterful feats of violence, inflictions of torture designed to test our own empathetic mettle. The pain tolerance of these gentlemen, who run through mazes of Tazers and cattle prods, who subject themselves to stampeding buffalo, and allow themselves to be shot in the testicles with any number of weapons, is simply breathtaking. For instance, consider the splendid scene where Steve-O bungees inside of a Port-O-Potty filled with at least 100 pounds of dung. As his adrenaline combines with the toxic smell, Mr. O heaves his sickness into the flying excrement and practically bathes in fecal matter and his own vomit. It's a marvelous achievement, and a winning example of the future of filmmaking, the sort of real entertainment for which our cultural denizens would gladly part with an hour or three worth of wages.

Indeed, these men deftly illustrate the growing efficiency of the Hollywood system: Scripts, storyboards, an extensive cast of extras, and months of planning are no longer necessary: These ideas can be concocted during a morning constitutional and executed in an afternoon. And the ring-leading provocateur behind these productions, Mr. Johnny Knoxville, knows exactly how to amp the levels without worrying that his audience might become desensitized to the perverse depravity of the series. Each installment successfully pushes the envelope; what began as a series of PG-rated lighthearted feats of punishment designed for a television audience has, a decade later, brought us to Jackass 3, where we're privy to an extraordinary amount of dong, where vomiting in an art form, and where scatophilia is the new norm.

If this is not progress, I don't know what is.



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