Sometimes movies or TV shows hit us square in our feelings. Sometimes we need to have a little cry about it. Sometimes, it’s the release of the Jackass Forever trailer that has tears inexplicably running down our faces.

I’ve been anxiously awaiting the release of the Jackass Forever trailer like some folks wait for new footage from DC or Marvel. The Jackass crew have been a part of my life since I was an angsty pre-teen sleeping above my parents’ garage. Seeing them together one last time feels like a homecoming. The series means so much more to me than poop jokes and guys hitting one another in the nuts. The Jackass guys taught me about found family, positive masculinity, and how to get back up when life knocks you down. There’s a punk-rock, fight-the-system mentality at the core of Jackass, but there’s also a lot of love and respect.

The Jackass guys are my role models, and I need to explain why.

When Your Friends Become Family

The beating heart of the Jackass franchise is the love these guys have for one another. While they may have funny ways of showing it, the guys in the Jackass crew take care of one another in a way you rarely see from other famous men. Star Johnny Knoxville and director Jeff Tremaine have tried to be a support system for the cast, and Steve-O credits Knoxville for saving his life by forcing him into rehab over a decade ago. Sadly, their attempts to get fellow Jackass alum Bam Margera to clean up his act haven’t gone as well. Margera, who has struggled with alcohol and drug abuse for years, refused the rehab stipulations in his Jackass Forever contract and was fired from production.

While it’s a shame that Margera won’t accept the help being offered, there will be plenty of “new blood” in Jackass Forever to help cover his absence. While I’m excited to see Zach HolmesEric ManakaRachel Wolfson, and  Sean “Poopies” McInerney, I’m especially looking forward to any segments with the guys from Loiter SquadLoiter Squad was a series created by Tremaine for Adult Swim that combined sketch comedy with Jackass-style stunts and pranks. We already knew Jasper Dolphin and his father, Dark Shark, were going to be in the movie from the first look photos, but the trailer confirms that Tyler the Creator will also be joining in on the fun. Loiter Squad felt like the perfect successor to Jackass, because it maintained the same anarchic energy grounded by tight friendships. Seeing these guys alongside the originators feels like a family reunion where the next generation gets to put on a show for their elders. It’s surprisingly wholesome for a series made famous by injuries and poop.

The Jackass guys are a kind of found family who embrace one another fully. It’s clear they believe in letting your freak flag fly, and they’re always there to have each other’s backs when the rest of the world isn’t ready.

Jackass Forever Trailer

Non-Toxic Masculinity

The Jackass crew may do a lot of dangerous, stupid things, but they’re never hateful. The gang have been a force of positivity for people from all walks of life. Between the TV series and the movies, they’ve had lots of guest stars who you usually wouldn’t see in this kind of juvenile bro-down.

Jackass proves that you can be part of their stunt crew no matter your physical ability. It doesn’t matter if you’re four feet tall, like Jason “Wee Man” Acuña, several hundred pounds like Preston Lacy, or you’re a wheelchair-user like Jackass 2 guest star Mark Zupan. The only requirement is that you’re able to laugh at yourself.

No one on Jackass takes themselves too seriously, which is a refreshing change of pace from many entertainers with multi-decade careers. And while they’re primarily a group of white men, they’ve had such a diverse group of guest stars that almost everyone can feel represented.

Perhaps most importantly, while the Jackass guys do a lot of stupid things, they are always the target of their own jokes. Instead of punching down, they pretty much just punch themselves. It would have been easy to lean into the often bigoted early 2000s style of edgy humor when the show debuted, but they never did. Knoxville and co. showed us that you can be juvenile and masculine without being homophobic, misogynistic, or racist. That’s something worth celebrating.

“If You’re Gonna be Dumb, You Gotta be Tough”

Knoxville’s cousin, musician Roger Alan Wade, wrote a song called “If You’re Gonna be Dumb” that has played in one form or another in every Jackass film. The song’s lyrics describe the ultimate Jackass ethos: “If you’re gonna be dumb, you gotta be tough. If you get knocked down, you gotta get back up.”

Sure, that’s not T.S. Eliot-level poetry, but it’s a damn fine mission statement for surviving life. There’s a persistence to Jackass, a tenacity that’s admirable. These performers have been seriously injured but keep getting back up and doing it again. The guys come from a variety of backgrounds, but Steve-O’s the only trained clown. Yet, they continually risk life and limb in the name of making us laugh.

There’s just something inspiring about a group of people who support and love one another unconditionally while also behaving like breathing crash test dummies. The balance they’ve struck between emotional maturity and intellectual silliness is a perfect one, and I can’t wait to see them on the big screen again.

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