Jackass's Ryan Dunn: a bad role model


Last week, Ryan Dunn of Jackass, the television stunt show where cast members put themselves in dangerous situations for laughs, died in a fiery Pennsylvania car crash. Having never been a fan of the show or its film spin-offs, I was mostly unmoved, aside from the general feelings of sadness whenever anyone dies. However, the cult of grief and remorse on Facebook and Twitter mourning his passing made me sit up and pay attention.

Once I heard the circumstances of his death, I was not only paying attention; I was concerned.  

Dunn died while speeding in his Porsche 911 on Route 322 after a night of drinking, which, knowing the guys at Jackass, was more than likely not in a responsible manner. He got into his $100,000 sports car with his friends and proceeded to speed right off the road into the woods, where his car caught fire, killing his passenger and himself.

As soon as the report of his death went public, young people all over the country were starting Facebook pages with titles like "Ryan Dunn4life" and "Remembering Ryan Dunn." People started posting his picture as their profile pic and video memorials were everywhere.  

This is a frightening response by youth, and a scary vision of the types of heroes they look up to. Ryan Dunn tested twice the legal alcohol limit when he killed himself, his passenger and greatly risked the lives of everyone on the road. This man should be remembered - as an example of the selfish and careless mistakes he made.  

While it is understandable for young people to be attracted to the fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants lifestyle of these daredevils, they need examples to follow now more than ever. The bad examples are all that interest corporations like MTV, which first put Jackass on the air. With shows like Jersey Shore, about heavy drinking and promiscuous young people in New Jersey, to Skins, about very young kids who are sexually active and experiment with drugs and drinking, one must ask if these outlets truly have the best intentions for their viewers or the talent that they hire to make these shows at heart.  

With people dying every day in the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, one in five U.S. families struggling to put food on their tables and millions of homeless and unemployed, the attention paid to this one irresponsible rich playboy who died as a result of his own idiotic behavior is a worrisome indication of who has the eyes and ears of American youth.

I can only hope that Dunn's death serves as a warning to all his young fans, like a living Mr. Bungle cartoon, that what these Jackasses do on the silver screen and in their everyday lives can and will kill you.

Photo: Manuel Sagra // CC 2.0

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  • In his 34 years, Ryan Dunn lived a fuller life than most people will in 90 years. He was always happy and constantly smiling in his pictures and on film. If you read and listen to interviews of his friends on his death, they all talk about what a nice and caring person he was. Yes, he made a mistake by mixing drinking and driving, but that doesn't make him a bad role model. The fact that he spent his life making people laugh and loving life makes him a great role model. We all make mistakes, even those who you would consider perfect role models. But the truth is no one is perfect and no one's death should be celebrated or talked about like this. His legacy will live on in the hearts of those who were fans. RIP Random Hero Ryan Dunn, thanks for the laughs.

    Posted by Hanna, 07/11/2011 2:23pm (5 years ago)

  • You must understand that kids who watch shows like skins are watching because they already participate in such things. If anything it's the painful outcomes shown in such story lines of the tv shows, and in this case, real life, that give examples of the real dangers of excess TO these kids - & myself.
    His death has come as a shock & warning to the ones who loved his work (myself included) - more than any advert or unrelateable role model that you may wish to proffer.

    Posted by Mayur, 07/10/2011 6:09pm (5 years ago)

  • Who are you to judge people, every one in this planet make bad mistakes: unfortunately he died over a bad judgement.
    However he was not a bad influence, he was just tried to live his life, "live hard die young". But people like yourself would never understand this concept because your never leave your safe parameters, Although: you live "longer" you are always going to be stuck in the same cubicle with the same routine for the rest of your life. "Next time your have a though...just let it go!".

    Posted by Ben Davila, 07/10/2011 4:05am (5 years ago)

  • While I thought Jackass was mildly entertaining at times, I think we need to show youth the other side of the picture - we need to show them that it's great to look up to writers and artists as well, rather than simply daredevils and reality show pseudo-celebrities.

    Bam Margera in particular is an interesting character, and has a great taste in music, but after years of Jackass and Viva La Bam, I always ask myself, "what has this person actually contributed to society?" People shouldn't be paid for moronic behavior while others suffer.

    I was sorry to hear that Dunn died, but I think you make a good point with this article, man.

    Also, thanks for tackling the issues with Jersey Shore - a show that I despise and feel gives New Jersey, where I was born and raised, a bad name.

    Posted by Blake, 07/07/2011 7:22pm (5 years ago)

  • You seem to be coming across as a very I'll manored fool! Your words are hurtful and disgusting to those who idolised and loved Ryan Dunn. Teens from all over enjoy and are fond of the known programme jackass, and at the start of each episode viewers are warned not to attempt these tricks at home. This is enough to set aside the idiots at home who do attempt these tricks and the ones who simply enjoy the entertainment and leave it too the professionals. So it's time to stop accusing and making accusations to the many young viewers of today. Fair enough Dunn made a big mystique leading to his deathbed, but he loved what he did an loved to live his life by having the guts and currage to pull of these stunts! I'm willing to do any thing it takes to turn this headline around of this mug of an article, you seem to have forgotten about a thing called respect! Ryan Dunn will always be loved and deaply cherrished by family, friends and his many hundreds of fans! So it appears that no matter what you call him or his fans your idiotic words and point won't get through to the people who have a sense of humer.

    Posted by :|, 07/07/2011 6:49pm (5 years ago)

  • While no loss of life should be celebrated (ask not for whom the bell tolls, and so forth), the simple fact is that we're better off without Ryan Dunn's puerile, self-destructive antics and gaudy self-promotion. Youth will always look to daring, but there's no shortage of that in the world, from workers who face down bosses to activists who put life and limb on the line in the fight against oppression and injustice. Here's to the day when media outlets will begin telling the right stories, and replace rebellious jackasses like Ryan Dunn with revolutionary heroes.

    Posted by Harold Wallace, 07/07/2011 5:37pm (5 years ago)

  • Well as far as I'm concerned Ryan Dunn was a great person to look up to. A person who enjoyed life. I think you need to give young people more credit, they aren't all stupid and willing to kill themselves by drink driving. And any teenagers and young people who do drink and drive just because Ryan did it may very well end up dead. That's just how it goes.

    Posted by Chris, 07/07/2011 10:05am (5 years ago)

  • A better article would have focused on the sensationalist, though sometimes entertaining, fare on corporate television and how it prefigures our lives and values--how private control of the media will always champion the lowest common denominator. I did enjoy Jackass.

    Posted by nampa1, 07/07/2011 12:23am (5 years ago)

  • why even write this article? Ryan Dunn was a way better person then you

    Posted by your name, 07/06/2011 11:41pm (5 years ago)

  • Ryan Dunn was a moron and he died like a moron. Reckless, drunk, and stupid in a performance car that could pay for my house and yours, and he couldn't even drive it.

    Posted by stephen, 07/06/2011 9:16pm (5 years ago)

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