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Steve-O Admits Early Jackass Had A Harmful Influence On Young Viewers

Over 20 years after its debut in 2000, "Jackass" is still leaving an impact on viewers and audience members who watch the crew's daring escapades. Started by Spike Jonze, Johnny Knoxville, and Jeff Tremaine, the MTV reality show gained popularity thanks to the nine main cast members who engaged in an extreme array of increasingly wild pranks and challenges. Despite its brief run that spanned less than a year from October 2000 to August 2001, "Jackass" would go on to spawn a successful media franchise. With eight films, several TV specials and spinoffs, games, web series, and more, the franchise remains a thriving force of rip-roaring comedy, with its feature films alone grossing over half a billion dollars all together (via The Numbers). 

Even though similar shows and franchises have since come out that have added their own twist to the idea such as truTV's "Impractical Jokers" and MTV's "Ridiculousness," "Jackass" still manages to come out on top with some truly gut-wrenching feats of wild comedy. As much as a pop culture staple the series is now, it isn't too hard to imagine that getting it to this point was quite the uphill battle. After all, when your franchise is based around cruel pranks and outrageous antics, it's sure to ruffle some feathers. But while it's one thing to upset some sensitive TV viewers here and there, it becomes a whole other issue when some get a little too inspired for their own good. 

Steve-O thinks the hate was deserved in the early days

In an interview with IGN, "Jackass" cast member Steve-O discussed the real-world implications he and the rest of the team had on young people in their early days. "I think in the beginning of 'Jackass' we were genuinely worth vilifying because back then they didn't have YouTube or video on the internet and we were legitimately a bad influence," he says. "When 'Jackass' came out, little kids were showing up in hospitals all over the country and maybe the world because they saw us doing this crazy s**t and they wanted to do it themselves."

Throughout the early 2000s, accounts of youth and teens getting injured or even killed in attempts to replicate the outrageous stunts performed on "Jackass" were not uncommon. From horrific car accidents to nasty burnings, the impact "Jackass" has had on the youth watching the show and movies has been put into question numerous times. And while the franchise and MTV were convenient scapegoats for many concerned adults, an ABC op-ed argued that it's just as much a responsibility for parents to teach their children about distinguishing the media they consume on television from real-world settings.

And in the world we live in today, "Jackass" has evolved in the public eye as a bizarre form of escapism, if anything. As Steve-O said in the aforementioned IGN interview, "... I think over the years, because now that there's so much YouTube, [the MTV series] 'Ridiculousness,' so much, it's not our ... fault anymore."