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Stupid is as stupid does

I’m beginning to wonder if we can function without warning labels.Warning: Do not read further if you are offended by the term “jackass.”There are two count ’em, two warnings in the “Jackass Number Two” movie that suggest audiences should not attempt the stunts featured in the film. The first warning flashes before all the debauchery begins. The second pops on the screen after the jackasses act, well, like jackasses, and the credits are finished rolling.Is this really necessary?Well, according to stupidity expert Albert Nerenberg who has the greatest title ever the answer is yes.Duh. Even jackasses know that.Nerenberg is director of the film “Stupidity,” which touches on the “phenomenon” (as the press release puts it) of boys copying what they see in “Jackass.”Albert obviously did not grow up in my neck of the woods, or with a brother like mine. In our neighborhood, a woods full of treehouses served as launching pads for preteen boys to see how far and fast they could propel themselves from poorly constructed rope swings.Those crazy “Tarzan” movies really got the kids going.Another fun trick was to see how close I could come to vomiting after smelling not by choice the gaseous contents of the infamous orange Tupperware bowl that stored flatulence.That’s not exactly what my mom had in mind when she bought that color-coordinated set of Tupperware back in the ’70s. Those darn things could really keep contents fresh.My brother wasn’t the only ornery one, though. By the time my friends and I were seniors in high school, we had pulled our fair share of jackass stunts. Who knew shopping carts, cherry bombs, and spitwad shooters made with straws from a popular fast-food chain could provide so much entertainment. And I don’t mean all at once.Warning: Shopping carts should not be used for racing, and cherry bombs should only be used by a responsible adult to celebrate holidays like Fourth of July and Armistice Day.Historically, people have been doing stupid stuff for laughs for centuries. In medieval times, jesters acted silly for kings and queens. Dick Van Dyke and Jack Tripper were always falling over ottomans or running into swinging doors. Of course the latter were actor/comedians, and we all know the guys from “Jackass” aren’t really actors. They’re just jackasses.But they know they are. That’s why they get chased by charging bulls while blindfolded and play dodge ball in a dark room with medicine balls. They know how funny it can be to watch people do stupid stuff. Most of their stunts are so over-the-top that re-enacting would either be financially impossible or socially suicidal.I don’t care how cool you think it is at the time, eating cow feces on a dare is not a good way to fit in.No one wants to kiss that guy.Our stupidity expert friend is quick to point out the danger “Jackass” presents. Kids have died imitating scenes from the movie and MTV show. He says, “Kids are dying, and these guys are laughing all the way to the bank.”Actually, most of the time “these guys” are stooped over in pain after getting sucker punched in the head or kicked in the groin. They might be getting rich, but they’re probably not enjoying urinating so much.It only stings at first.Nerenberg also says, “Scientific evidence is pointing towards the fact that the same neurons fire in people watching an action as the people doing it.” Which would explain why moviegoers then want to go out and be jackasses themselves.That totally explains my wardrobe in the ’80s.Look back at some scary photos of me as a teen and you’ll find fingerless black lace gloves weren’t just for Madonna in the “Like a Virgin” video. And crimped hair wasn’t only for Punky Brewster, either.I may be an imitator, but the consequences haven’t always been so dangerous. My eye for fashion was definitely blackened.Thanks for the warning.April E. Clark thought “Jackass Number Two” was really funny but came close to losing her Frosty all over the seat in front of her at least twice. And the orange Tupperware bowl wasn’t even around to cause it. She can be reached at 945-8515, ext. 518, or aclark@postindependent.com.


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