Monday, June 20, 2011

Life Imitates Art

...or going from "Jackass" to "Six Feet Under" in the blink of an eye.

Reality TV star Ryan Dunn, who appeared on the MTV series for several years, died early today in a car crash near West Chester, Pennsylvania. Details from WPVI-TV in Philly:

According to police, Dunn lost control of his 2007 Porsche 911 GT3, veered into a wooded area next to the road and collided with a tree. The impact resulted in the vehicle bursting into flames.

Both Dunn and a passenger were killed. Investigators say both bodies were burned badly and that they are still trying to determine the identity of the passenger.

The preliminary investigation revealed that speed may have been a contributing factor in the crash.

Alcohol may have also played a role. A few hours before the fatal crash, Dunn posted a photo of himself, drinking with friends, on his Tumblr account.

Given his proclivity for dangerous behavior, it's no surprise that Mr. Dunn departed this mortal coil in such gruesome fashion. Investigators say they identified the reality TV star by bits of his facial hair and tattoos on his remains.

And sadly, Dunn will (at least for now) become an even bigger celebrity in death--a hero to the slacker crowd, willing to do almost anything for the fame and money that put Dunn behind the wheel of a Porsche 911 on a winding road in southeastern Pennsylvania. From what we can tell, Mr. Dunn had no real training as an actor or stunt performer--just a willingness to risk life and limb in various hare-brained activities, while the cameras rolled.

Among his various contributions to the culture, Dunn may be best remembered for a skit from Jackass: The Movie where he inserted a toy car into his rectum, then visited a doctor complaining of pain in his tailbone. Hilarity ensured, or so we're told.

Years ago, one of my broadcasting professors confidently predicted that TV would one day air a "live" execution. The man wasn't a snob or cynic; in fact, he had spent most of adult life working in the industry and loved the TV business. But he understood the nature of the beast, and its inevitable slide towards the most base elements of our culture.

My former professor died almost 20 years ago, so he never saw Jackass and its various TV, film and DVD spawn. But he wouldn't be shocked by what passes for "reality" programming these days. And, thanks to the "work" of Ryan Dunn, we've inched a little bit closer to that "ultimate" television show.


Randy said...

Stick to the political and intelligence field. Just because you don't think the antics of someone or a group of people are funny gives you no right to bag on them after they have died. This would have been much more appropriate had you ever laid objection one to them prior to his death. Classless.

Randy said...

And it was his twitter account, not a tumblr account.

tfhr said...


Good thing we've got you to tell us what to say and think. Given his relative disregard for personal safety, it should come as no surprise that his life ended prematurely and tragically. I wish people wouldn't bag on their families by desperately seeking attention in ways that endanger them. Then again I wonder who watches that sort of stuff in the first place and if they ever feel the slightest bit responsible for encouraging people to do harm to themselves in the production of such a classy genre of entertainment.

Storms24 said...

To paraphrase the bard: "The stupidity that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones... So let it be with Dunn."

Boborygmy said...

When I was stationed in Taiwan in the 70's, the government there televised executions (firing squad). Any use of a deadly weapon during the commission of a crime warranted the death penalty. At the time, it seemed a very effective measure in reducing crime.