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Kim Voynar

By Kim Voynar

What Roger Said, Er, Tweeted — and a Jackass Backlash

Updated: The Washington Post is now reporting that Ryan Dunn’s blood alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit, and that he was driving his Porsche at 130MPH when he crashed, killing himself and his passenger. Which, Jackass fans, makes Roger Ebert’s tweet correct, even if you still think it was too soon to tweet about it.

The only person Dunn’s friends and family — and Jackass fans — have to be pissed off at here, is Dunn himself, who was engaging in irresponsible, antisocial, asshole behavior and got himself and his friend killed in the process. End of line, folks.

In case you missed all the uproar, Roger Ebert is taking some internet heat for Tweeting this

“Friends don’t let jackasses drink and drive.”

… in the wake of Jackass star Ryan Dunn’s death, along with his pal Zachary Hartwell, in a fiery crash. According to this MSNBC story, Dunn might have been driving in excess of 100 MPH in the 55 MPH zone when his car jumped a guardrail. Reportedly, Dunn and Hartwell were photographed drinking in a bar shortly before the crash. There’s a photo up on TMZ, I hear, if you’re really feeling the need to see it.

Does the fact that Dunn was drinking in a bar shortly before the fatal crash mean Dunn was drunk? No, and toxicology reports will take weeks. Regardless, unless investigation reveals that his Porsche was malfunctioning or that someone deliberately rigged his car so that it would be traveling that speed without him making the volitional choice to put his foot on the accelerator, he was almost certainly driving recklessly, and it’s fortunate that he didn’t hit any other vehicles in the process of crashing his car.

Ebert posted a video of Dunn’s friend Bam Margera’s mother, April, talking about Dunn’s history of driving too fast to back up his assertion that Dunn had a history of reckless driving behavior. Dunn’s friend and Jackass co-star Bam Margera, gossip blogger Perez Hilton, and legions of Jackass fans took Ebert to task for tweeting what he tweeted. Legions of Ebert fans fired back. Ebert didn’t apologize, exactly — he said offered his sympathy to Dunn’s family and friends, and regretted that his Tweet was considered cruel and was perhaps “unseemly,” but he stopped short of actually saying he took it back.

Question is, was Ebert right to tweet what he did? And moreover, does the speed at which Dunn was reportedly driving make it irrelevant if he was legally drunk or not? To me it almost makes it worse if he wasn’t drunk; if he was inebriated you could at least argue his judgement was clouded and that caused him to make a foolish and dangerous choice, whereas if he was sober and driving over 100 MPH, well, then he deliberately made a choice that caused both his own death and that of his friend and could have killed anyone else unfortunate enough to be in his path.

Sadly, neither option really makes it any easier for Dunn’s and Hartwell’s family and friends, who are left behind to cope with their loss.

What do you think? Was Ebert out of line in tweeting about a tragedy?

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon