With Ryan Dunn dead from a car accident Monday, the Jackass star’s friends and family are in mourning. However, since Dunn may be dead because of drunk driving, and since the most famous film critic in the world injected himself in the middle of the story, the aftermath has taken on a life of its own.
This story is now half about Dunn’s crash and half about the dispute over what Roger Ebert said about it. When Ebert Tweeted that “friends don’t let jackasses drink and drive,” in response to the allegation that Dunn was drunk at the wheel, the backlash flooded the Internet.
Fellow Jackass star Bam Margera cursed out Ebert on his own Twitter account, and fans flooded Ebert’s Facebook page with their objections. In fact, users even got the page removed from Facebook for a while. But amidst it all, Ebert is not apologizing for the content of his Tweet, or even for the much-criticized timing of it.
As such, Dunn being dead may now be a secondary story compared to Ebert’s comments and the reactions to them. If he hadn’t brought up Dunn’s alleged drinking so quickly, it probably would have been brought up and criticized eventually without so much fervor. What’s more, it might have warranted a more serious take on the issue than there is right now.
But any attempt to seriously discuss drunk driving, and whether it caused this crash, is now being placed side-by-side with the online sniping over Ebert. That kind of mix doesn’t go well, and has already proved to be volatile.
In the meantime, Dunn’s death is still the primary focus for fans, friends and loved ones. Although he wasn’t the most well-known member of the Jackass crew — at least compared to the likes of Johnny Knoxville and Steve-O — he was still a beloved member of the team. It is still a shock to many that although he walked away from all of his outrageous stunts and pranks, he was killed by a more common car crash.
But since drunk driving was supposedly involved, and since he posted a picture of himself at a bar before his death, it adds an ugly asterisk to the story. Now a tragic and cautionary tale, and the death of a popular star/prankster, has become just another statistic in the battle over drunk driving. What’s more, it has become another common Internet feud, albeit with unlikely combatants in Ebert and Dunn’s fans and mourners.
The fact that Dunn is dead at the age of 34 — and it may have easily been avoidable — is noteworthy and sad enough. Yet will the aftermath further overshadow that, or will the commentary and arguments give way to a less inflammatory grieving process?
MTV.com- “Ryan Dunn Remembered By Jackass Co-Stars, Fans”
Roger Ebert (EBERTCHICAGO) on Twitter
Bam Margera (BAM_MARGERA) on Twitter