aired June 25, 2011 on Dave’s Gone By. YouTube Clip: Ryan Dunn
Shalom, Dammit! This is Rabbi Sol Solomon, with a Rabbinical Reflection for the week of June 25, 2011.
What is the definition of a jackass? A donkey, of course. Also, a stupid person, a fool. That’s according to Webster’s Dictionary and to me, when we talk about the late Ryan Dunn.
Dunn was a castmember on the MTV television program, “Jackass,” which had crazy people doing idiotic, dangerous things. Putting their heads in beehives, skating into walls, firing objects in and out of their tuchases, and falling on things – lots and lots of falling on things. This is what passes for entertainment in the new millennium. And hey, sometimes it’s funny. A person walking on the street slips on dog poop – it’s amusing. Unless they’re badly injured, in which case it’s hilarious.
Goofy people pulling stunts that the rest of us are too mature or just too cowardly to do can be an appealing form of comic relief. After all, it answers one of the basic curiosities of mankind: “What would happen if?”
What would happen if I ride a motorcycle into a group of midgets dressed like nuns? What would happen if I cover my best friend with firecrackers, make believe I’m going to light them, but instead, I kick him really hard in the nuts? Hours, my friends, of delightful, high-class entertainment!
Along with Johnny Knoxville and Steve O, Ryan Dunn took part in these perilous shenanigans. And there was always controversy. Parents worried that their children would imitate these yutzes and put themselves in the hospital – or worse. But that never bothered me. These were professional pranksters. If they wanted to strap raw meat to their behinds while being dangled over a swamp full of alligators – who am I to judge? And if your kid is stupid enough to copy that, well, alligators have to eat, too. So if you want to hurt yourself or your willing accomplices, that’s between you, your friends, and the guy holding the water cannon.
But I call Ryan Dunn a jackass – and a putz and a moron and a bastard – because on the night of June 20th, he had enough drinks to befuddle Russia, and then climbed in his Porsche and started to drive. Eventually, his fancy car came to a stop. Unfortunately, it was in the middle of a tree.
Police estimate the automobile had been going 130 miles an hour, and that Dunn’s blood alcohol was more than twice the legal limit. And yet, a miracle occurred. Oh yes, Dunn and his friend in the passenger seat were both killed, but thank God, they didn’t kill anyone else.
A car is a loaded weapon – especially if you’re loaded. You’re rich, you’re famous, you think you can get away with anything, and you’re gonna live forever. Guess what? You’re rich, you’re famous, but if you have three Stolis and a whiskey sour when you get behind the wheel, you will not live forever, nor will you deserve to.
I don’t care if you’re Mel Gibson, or David Cassidy, or Gary Collins, or Lindsey Lohan, or Nicole Richie, or Rip Torn, or Rick Springfield, or the woman down the street with three kids and a Percodan habit – if you’re driving under the influence, you should be arrested for attempted homicide.
When you get in a car – sober and alert – you depend on your own ability to get safely from where you start to where you want to end up. Alas, you are also dependent on everyone else on the road obeying the rules and maintaining the same level of caution. These include schmucks on their cellphones, women doing their makeup in the rear-view mirror, idiots on bicycles who think the road is their own personal videogame, and the prick in the SUV who thinks a couple of beers won’t affect him if he just drives a little more slowly. The only thing that shocked me about those drive-by shootings in L.A. is that they were done by gang members and not white-collar working stiffs just trying to get home without being cut off at 70 miles an hour by a Jeep Cherokee blaring Lynyrd Skynyrd.
And so, I come not to praise Ryan Dunn, but to bury him. 34 years old and a victim only of his own arrogance and negligence. When they put the word “Jackass” on his tombstone, his fans might take it one way, but anyone with a brain will know exactly what it means.
This has been a Rabbinical Reflection from Rabbi Sol Solomon, Temple Sons of Bitches.
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