Activists call for boycott of new Jackass over animal cruelty
PETA accuses the film of abusing the rights of various animals used in the stunts – and urges viewers to avoid the film.
It’s a recurring challenge in the acts of “Jackass” sheer insanity: a ring, a bull on the loose, and someone at risk of being violently caught. In celebration of the 20th anniversary and the new fourth film, Jackass Forever, the (nearly) adult stars of the series once again risked stoking the wrath of the beast. The result was particularly painful for Johnny Knoxville, creator and protagonist of “Jackass”, who was left with several sequels of the encounter.
“That was the worst bat I’ve ever gotten from a cop. Or that I took my whole life,” the actor recently revealed ahead of the film’s premiere. The collision resulted in immediate damage: a broken wrist and multiple ribs, aggravated by a concussion that forced him into longer treatments and “decreased cognitive abilities”.
While some worry about the actors’ health, others look over the fence at the animals who regularly serve as accomplices in the Jackass team’s crazy ideas. In this case, PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, an organization that advocates for animal rights, decided to speak out.
In a public statement, PETA called for a worldwide boycott of the film. “Cruelty to animals is unacceptable. Rather than [a Paramount Pictures] Editing scenes in which a bull is spurred on to charge humans, a sensitive snake is provoked into attacking it, or a shy tarantula is forced down a tube with two men roaring in each of the openings, they decided to add even more animalism to the finale Maneuver to add version,” condemned the organization.
The fourth film in the series, which debuted on MTV in 2001, is a return to the aftermath of a multi-year hiatus. “Jackass Forever” brings back old acquaintances of the fans with names like Steve-O, Christ Pontius, Ryan Dunn, Jason Acuña or Dave England. Although no premiere is scheduled for Portugal, the film hit North American theaters on February 4th. And contrary to what PETA expected, it was a resounding success.
Jackass Forever shot to the top of the most-watched film list and has already doubled its budget of eight million. In the first weekend he received more than 20 million euros at the box office.
As for PETA, the creators of Jackass Forever won’t rest. The organization promised to contact Los Angeles officials to investigate “apparent animal cruelty,” along with a “boycott call.” “Animals are not actors – they never agreed to take part in these horrifying maneuvers and are not to be used for our entertainment.”
For example, the complaint list includes a scene shared in the trailer in which someone is visibly bitten on the face by a snake. “Snakes are reclusive by nature and will hide from humans unless provoked. This snake was placed in an unfamiliar environment between strong light and noise (they are very sensitive to vibration) and were probably handled against their will,” explains PETA. “These conditions likely caused the mental stress that caused the snake to feel threatened and attack in response.”
Also criticized are the use of a bull, whose attack “is usually the result of provocation,” and the placement of a tarantula in a hose connected to two men who yelled on either side. “Tarantulas are sensitive to vibrations, which they use to sense danger, so loud, strange noises are particularly distressing.”
PETA acted immediately upon seeing the trailer, saying it stepped up objections after initial press previews revealed other potentially dangerous scenes for animals.
“In another scene, Knoxville and Steve-O provoke bees into attacking the second’s penis, killing several bees. In another, a scorpion is placed next to Rachel Wolfson’s mouth and repeatedly attacked by Eric André until the beast attacks.
“We urge viewers to avoid ‘Jackass Forever’ and to contact Paramount Pictures (…) to let them know that animal cruelty is not a hoax – and that’s why they won’t see the film.”
Animal scenes are very common in Jackass. The cast even went swimming in ball pits where the plastic balls were swapped out for giant anacondas. It was in fact one of the maneuvers they picked as one of the craziest. “Snakes are like cops, they like to work together,” Knoxville recalled to Rolling Stone. “I had electrical tape around my wrists because I didn’t want to get bitten in an artery. After we left, one of the guys said, ‘One of those snakes took a guy’s twin the other day’.”
In “Jackass 3”, some team members are stripped and only have to use a blindfold and a mug to nail a pin to a donkey’s tail. Of course, if they approach the animal from behind, they are exposed to dangerous kicks. And that’s exactly what happened.
In Jackass 3D, a beehive is attached to a pole and two of the actors have to hit it with a stick. Almost completely naked, they are exposed to the inevitable animal bites. More famous was the maneuver performed on MTV in the series released in 2000. Knoxville undressed and smeared his underwear with a material that could attract bees with the goal of creating “bee underwear.” The animals obeyed and one of the most famous maneuvers by the craziest guys on TV was born.