Jackass: The Movie might soon be followed by Jackass: The Boycott.
Albert Lynn, a father whose teenage son was severely burned after his playmate tried to recreate a prank seen on the MTV show is calling for a boycott of the nation's new number-one movie, as well as sponsors of the cable show, the Associated Press reports.
The big-screen version of Jackass--featuring, according to the ads, "stuff you'd never see on TV"--is being distributed by Paramount, MTV's corporate sibling in the Viacom family.
Advising parents to "hit them where it hurts," Lynn says he wants to bring attention to the dangerous antics of Johnny Knoxville & Co. Despite the show's don't-try-this-at-home warnings and the film's R rating, Lynn believes kids are likely to try and copy stunts and end up getting injured or killed.
"The name says it all. You've got to be a jackass to do these things," Lynn says.
Lynn's 12-year-old son, Nick, was hospitalized with second- and third-degree burns last March after playing at a friend's house. A 13-year-old boy doused Nick's shirt with lamp oil and set him on fire, apparently mimicking a scene from the MTV show.
Nick ran outside and was rescued by two other boys, who seized Nick and rolled him in a snow bank, extinguishing the flames.
(While the kids involved, including Nick, denied being influenced by Jackass, when questioned by police, the boy who set Nick alight admitted that he remembered seeing Knoxville and his sadomasochistic skateboarding buddies performing a similar feat.)
The movie's R rating is little comfort for Albert Lynn, who says kids are still going to sneak in to showings. He just hopes they don't try something foolish.
"There's still gonna be kids trying this stuff," he says, adding that he has blocked MTV from his home.
This isn't the first time Jackass pranks have been blamed for serious injuries.
In January 2001, a 13-year-old Connecticut boy was critically burned after two friends poured gasoline on his legs and feet and set him on fire, imitating a scene where Knoxville puts on a flame-resistant suit covered with steaks and stretches over a giant grill for a human barbecue.
That was followed three months later by two Kentucky teenagers who were injured after trying to copy a stunt in which one of the boys failed to jump out of the way of a moving car at the last second.
And just two weeks ago, a woman sued MTV claiming she suffered back and knee injuries and was humiliated during an April 21 taping for an episode which never aired after a cast member bolted across the stage and smashed into a lectern behind her, allegedly forcing her backward onto a concrete floor.
For its part, MTV has denied any wrongdoing in such incidents, saying both the TV show and film include a tagline warning that the "following stunts are performed by professionals" and "insist that neither you nor your dumb little buddies attempt any of what you're about to see."
Playing to an audience comprised mostly of young men under 25, Jackass: The Movie raked in an estimated $22 million, the third best October opening ever. The tally far surpassed the expectations of Viacom execs, who had assumed it might make that amount over its entire run.
Following the slew of copycat injuries last year, family-valuing types like Senator Joseph Lieberman called on MTV to either cancel or tone down the anything-goes show.
The cable net refused, but did move the show to a later time slot. Critics of the show were undoubtedly pleased when torture-happy host Knoxville (real name P.J. Clapp) decided to hang up his fire suit after one season to focus on a movie career (in addition to Jackass: The Movie, he appeared as an evil alien in this summer's Men in Black II). But while the show ceased production in the summer of 2001, MTV continues to air reruns several times a week.
Anticipating the controversy over the film, Knoxville has stressed that he wanted Jackass: The Movie to be rated R.
"People go to car races to watch the crashes. It's the same reason they watch Jackass," Knoxville recently told USA Today. "In every interview, in warnings on the TV show and the movie, we stress 'don?t try this at home.' It's unfortunate when kids get hurt, but I wish parents would monitor what their kids are doing and watching. It's common sense, really."
Nick Lynn, now 13, barely recalls the trauma he suffered because of the stunt. Instead, the eighth-grader has decided to move on with his life and remarkably, he says he doesn't hold any grudges against the show.
"It was funny," he says.