General News

Joe Lieberman’s “Jackass” Attack

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Mar 19, 2001 | 11:51am EST

He may not be our new vice-president, but Senator Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.) is still using his power to battle the evils of Hollywood.

According to Reuters, Lieberman, who made a name for himself in the past election as a critic of the lack of morals in the entertainment industry, has set his sights on MTV’s hit show “Jackass." On Monday, January 29, Lieberman publicly condemned MTV and “Jackass” in connection with the airing of a stunt that may have caused a teenager to be set on fire.

Jason Lind, 13, a Connecticut viewer, had gasoline poured on his legs and feet by friends on Friday, January 26, after they had watched the show. According to police accounts, another friend then lit Lind on fire.

As of Monday, January 29, Lind remained hospitalized in critical condition. At that point, Lind's father contacted Lieberman's Capitol Hill office and asked that the senator become involved. The father wanted Lieberman to personally request that MTV and its parent company, Viacom Inc., make drastic changes to “Jackass.''

“Jackass,” which airs on Friday at 10 p.m. ET and Sundays at 9 p.m. ET, features host and masochist Johnny Knoxville performing off-the-wall pranks and mind-bogglingly dangerous stunts. On the segment in question, Knoxville, who wore a fire-resistant suit hung with steaks, laid down on a barbecue, as his fellow cast members squirted him with lighter fluid. Lind apparently wanted to re-enact the stunt in his friend’s backyard.

Lieberman released the following statement: "It is irresponsible for MTV to air these kinds of stunts on a program clearly popular with young teens, to air it at a time when many of them are likely to be watching and to do so without adequate warnings."

He went on to say: “I recognize that the program is rated for adults and that it comes with general disclaimers. But there are some things that are so potentially dangerous and inciting, particularly to vulnerable children, that they simply should not be put on TV, and this is clearly one that crosses that line.”

Lieberman has vowed that he will ask MTV to tone down and add stronger warnings to “Jackass,” move it to a later time slot, or to cancel it all together. He said: “MTV is an enormously influential force in the world our children inhabit and with that power and the right to exercise it comes a certain level of responsibility. I intend to make clear to the network's owners that we expect more from them.''

In response, MTV released a statement stating: "It is made extremely clear through the show, through the use of written and verbal warnings, that none of the stunts featured should be tried at home."

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