Media Criticism

Bam Margera

Criticized Media
411 Video Magazine- issue 7
CKY2K- independent film
Jackass- television series
Viva La Bam- television series
Haggard- independent film

Brandon “Bam” Margera of West Chester, Pennsylvania, used his image from the skateboard sub-culture evolving into a mainstream misfit. The first time I have ever seen Margera was back in 1994 in the skateboard video- 411 video magazine. Bam was fourteen years old and was on his way of becoming a professional skateboarder. While watching Margera progress through out the 1990’s in the skateboard industry, I could see he had some kind of star quality in him. After turning pro for Toy Machine skateboards, Margera began to produce his own independent films such as the Landspeed video, CKY2K, and CKY 3. CKY stands for Camp Kill Yourself. That term is not meant to literally kill yourself, it pertained to the dangers of Margera’s stunts. These films had a perfect mixture of skateboarding and his infamous skits. A few examples of skits that appeared in theses films were shopping cart knight fighting, jumping out of high speed pick up trucks into bushes, and red neck bowling just to name a few. After the emergence of the independent film, CKY2K, a cult like following began to appear in the skateboard sub-cultures across America. There was something about this crude footage that made people want more and more. Margera’s hometown of West Chester even prohibited the sale of this film because of scenes of Margera defacing the town and its name association.

In 1999, I attended the CKY2K video premier party in Tampa as apart of the Skatepark of Tampa professional skateboard contest. I can still clearly visualize the first scene of Margera jumping off a six -story parking garage onto a limb of a 25-foot tall pine tree. I can still hear the roar of the crowd when that scene occurred.

MTV came along and put together the show Jackass. Jackass united Johnny Knoxville and his crew with Bam Margera and his crew. After being on MTV, Margera’s status rose from a cult following to a mass media following sweeping across mainstream America. Since Margera’s footage was being available to a national audience via MTV- young novice teenagers were starting to mimic his stunts. In a newspaper article in West Chester’s Daily Local News, five juveniles were arrested in a movie theatre parking lot for copying the shopping cart stunts featured in CKY2K and Jackass the movie. Soon after, an 18 year old in Ohio died from a head injury after falling out of a moving truck. In Kentucky, to men were arrested for jumping into a windshield of a moving car and in California a 14 year old let his friends pour lighter fluid all over his sweatshirt and set it on fire. In turned out, all of the people involved in these cases admitted to mimicking Jackass. That alone shows why a young national audience should not view these types of stunts. Especially on MTV, when the audience is getting younger and younger. Young kids see this footage and believe they are invincible like the Jackass crew. But the truth is, Margera and his crew have suffered serious injuries while doing these stunts. But on Jackass, the negative consequences of stunts gone wrong are not being shown. MTV does have a disclaimer that appears before all the episodes. But do you think young teenagers are actually going to listen to that? After the show’s popularity, MTV and Paramount teamed up to produce Jackass the movie. The movie grossed $59.4 million in just four weeks. This movie really moved Margera to rock star status.

Margera now has his own show, without Johnny Knoxville, called Viva La Bam. This show appears on Sunday nights on MTV. Viva La Bam is filmed in West Chester at his private residence with an occasional road trip. In one episode, Margera replaced Phil’s (Bam’s dad) toothpaste with ground meat. Phil brushed his teeth with the meat and almost vomited. In Viva La Bam, there is a lot more of these kinds of scenes instead of the dangerous stunts. The footage is definitely toned down a lot.

Margera has completed his most recent project, Haggard. Haggard is an actual film with a storyline and a plot. A large production company was scheduled to take on the movie. The company wanted to use its own actors. Because of that, Margera turned down the offer because he wanted his friends to act in the movie. Margera spent $360,000 out of his own pocket for production costs. This proves that you can make a decent film with having Hollywood involved. Haggard premiered in Margera’s hometown before it was released to the American public.

This presentation showed how a shaggy skateboarder progressed into a major media personality by doing it his own way. This sub-culture icon made his way to the national spotlight in just a blink of an eye. I also tried to prove the point of teenagers mimicking stunts off of Jackass. These kinds of mimics did not happened as frequently when Margera’s videos were floating around the skateboard sub-cultures. It is when the show is on a national medium of MTV, is when novices try to get involved. My point is, extreme sports athletes, such as skateboarders are very experienced in taking hard falls, unlike the average person. I think MTV is to blame for these injury cases because they don’t show the behind the scenes injuries to these actors. This is when these young kids think they are invincible resulting in serious injury.