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Mr. Wrong

Idiot Factor

By Joe MacLeod | Posted 6/27/2001

So there's this Fear Factor show on teevee, where they get a bunch of idiots who want to win big dough on teevee to do stuff like jump out of moving vehicles, eat bugs, and lie in a coffin while somebody dumps 200 real-live rats in there, and the rats are all crawling around and pooping and biting the feet of the people who are the, uh, jeez, like, what the fuck exactly do you call these people, contestants?

Nah, no way--contestants are on Wheel of Fortune, and The Price is Right, and Jeopardy! and Who Wants to Be A Millionaire, and Family Feud, right? You can't lump people answering general-knowledge queries in with telegenic zeros getting pressured into eating beetle larvae. Two different kinds of humanoids there, see. What are we gonna call these people who get the rats dumped all over them besides Big Fucking Idiots? You got rats biting your feet, you boob. Getthefuckoutofthere! You can't buy new toes, dumb ass. The network had you sign a piece of paper that says you can't sue them for anything they do to you, and it's specifically designed to include rats gnawing off your distal, proximal, and middle phalanges. Otherwise, they wouldn't have filmed the stunt, see?

Look, let's have a teevee show where the person who doesn't do something stupid wins, OK? Hey there, Idiot No. 1, we're gonna strip you down to your skid-marked underpants, put you in a big steel box, and then we're gonna light a nice steady propane burner underneath it to see how long you can stay in there. If you keep hopping around and develop a strategy to try to even out the amount of time your various fleshy parts are actually in contact with the superheated metal, you might be able to stay in there a long time and win the big dough, but you never know, you just might get your toes cooked or something, but you signed a piece of paper that says it's all good. So whaddya say there Idiot No. 1, ready to go, ready to risk it all for the big payoff? You are? Alrighty then, get your ass in there, Idiot the First. Uh, say, look, we're gonna put your steel box inside this soundproof chamber so that we won't be annoyed by your blood-curdling screams of pain, OK? Good, good. Can you hear me, moron? No? Alright folks, what Idiot Numero Uno doesn't know is that he's already lost his chance at the big dough by being docile and sheeplike enough to allow himself to be put inside an oven! What a, er, uh--what a contestant! Maybe that is the word for it after all, eh? Sit back, relax, and enjoy the spectacle as we roast a human being alive, which is why you freaks tuned in to this thing in the first place, right? Yeah! It's the Completely Legal Torture Because Some Dumb Ass Signed a Piece of Paper That Says We Can Do Whatever the Fuck We Want to 'Em Hour! You might be failures as human beings, but at least you ain't stupid enough to crawl inside a propane death chamber, hah? And kids, don't do this at home, even if somebody from teevee asks you, OK? At least not until you sign some papers, OK? We'll be right back in two and two . . .

Of course, they already had a show like that on teevee in Japan where people stood on big heated metal plates. I think it was actually called People Will Do Anything for Money, or something to that effect. Those Japanese teevee execs, man, they're constantly pushing the envelope, trying to corner the market on heartless, efficient entertainment.

The thing is, the MTV has the best and most PETA-compliant (if you consider Really Dumb People to be kind of like animals, needing to be protected by the Smart People) version of all this crap with the Jackass program. Except maybe for the worm-eating. I guess PETA wouldn't be too thrilled with the worm-eating. Actually, on the episode I saw, it wasn't worm-eating, it was more like worm-snorting, and then horking the worm out through the mouth. Probably not the best thing in the world for the worm. Maybe if the guy ate the worm, PETA would be cool with it, since it's food? The goldfish-swallowing-and-regurgitating segment probably wasn't too PETA-tacular either. Still, I defend the Jackass program, because it's the Olympics of being an idiot, and it's a closed course. They don't have any knuckleheads with day jobs on the show wondering about the alliance they just formed.

And what's up with the goddamn Weakest Link program anyway? I tried watching it a coupla times, but it's never about who's the weakest link, it's always about who thinks who is the weakest link, and that's super-annoying. And they never even get close to the million bucks you're supposed to have a shot at. (At least the goddamn Millionaire show actually gives away a million bucks every once in a while.) The other night, a bunch of the links got together and voted people out according to an agreed-upon pattern. That's bull-fucking-shit, and it does not improve the game. If that mean lady on there is supposed to be Miz Hardass, she shoulda zozted all the people who were ganging up on other players. Fuck the Weakest Link. It is the Crappiest Game Show. Now the Jackass, it's not a game show; no audience participation, no stunts submitted by viewers, no, uh, contestants, but it's got the thing that makes it all happen, man: Stupidity. Focused, professional, quality, top-drawer Stupidity. The goofballs on this show gotta be getting paid something, but I bet these kooks would do this stuff for free. Accept no substitute, unless they come along and fuck it up with something like Celebrity Jackass. If there's gonna be celebrities, I wanna see 'em getting gnawed on by rats. And none of those handpicked lab rats either. I want some street rats out there on my celebrities.

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