As my musings on unscripted TV continue to inch their way through millennia, I would like to take this time to thank you for returning to Thirsty Thursday despite the fuckery I inflicted on the internut last week. I file Unpopular Opinions under “it was 2:00 in the morning and seemed like a good idea at the time.” But, to be fair, us here on the spoopy staff do pride ourselves in filling the Graveyard with unique views and trying to spare our valued readers of finding themselves on another stop of the Corey Taylor Opinion Circuit. I am excited to announce that we may have hit a new record of dissent this week — on Monday Robin dared to assert that maybe we can respect those who live for Pokemon Go even if we don’t play it ourselves, and on this ripe and raunchy Thursday, I’m daring to proclaim that something on MTV was pretty damn great.
In case you can’t read titles, I’m talking about reckless royalty Viva La Bam that served as the edgier, angstier answer to 2000’s reality staples like The Simple Life. Starring the sharply accessorized Bam Margera, Viva began as a Jackass spin-off that was so fill of Eastern-PA hijinks that it soon spun into a wacky web as big as Jackass itself. If you were, like 40, or living under a rock in 2005, I implore you to go buy the first season on Amazon for the reasonable price of $0.37, dial up your pizza dude, your weed man, your best buds, and have yourself a killer night in. For many others, i.e. all of the cool 8th graders I used to see in BAM-brand beanies and those loaf-looking Etnies, the obsession surrounding the show has cooled down to a slightly embarrassing blip on the nostalgia radar. However, if my post-junior high encounters with the Margera clusterfuck have taught me anything it’s that even though we may have lost Dunn, Vito, and a skateboard or two, that heartagram kitchen tattoo will never completely fade away.
I spent my first semester of college in Philly and would always drive through hardcore Bam Country on my trips up from Bmore, always low key hoping that I would see a purple Porsche passing by (even though I’m pretty sure the former Missy Margera got that one in the settlement). Despite it being 2012, seven years since the show had wrapped at this point, I would often hear my classmates from the surrounding suburbs whispering about how Bam owned half of Chester County and how their best friend’s cousin even saw him at a bar once. Sounds lame, but if you know how lit the skate scene still is in Philly it makes a good sense. It wasn’t just a random hobby or means of transportation to class; the heart of the lifestyle is very much beating. My school even had its own little skate park that served as a way to connect with the surrounding community, and, well, also prime dude-watching territory.
When a friend was looking for someone to hit up a HIM show with to celebrate the end of fall finals, I couldn’t help but offer up my company, largely due to my amazement that the unofficial Viva La Bam soundtrack was still touring. I never really comprehended the extent to which HIM owed their American success to Bam’s constant sporting of the heartagram, but I’m happy the free advertising reached me, because fuck, I’m not ashamed to admit that it only takes about three seconds of “Join Me in Death” to send me into an emotional crap attack filled with mascara tears, sensual writhing, and chronic masturbation. Anyways, the audience at the show was an utter freak show (I have a permanent mental image of one chick walking around in a floor-length Victorian nightgown and plastic tiara), but it was a remarkably packed house nonetheless and there was even some fedora boy lovingly throwing red roses at Ville Valo’s feet.
After the show, my friend and I stood outside the HIM bus with dozens of others freezing their asses off in the fragile hope of getting a piece of that Love Metal rod. Some dudes that had driven all the way from North Carolina for the show were talking about how they were going to get matching heartagram tats the very next day with a passion that most people reserve for Black Sabbath and Black Flag. I was pretty confused as to how my life had somehow gotten to that moment, but I felt pangs of pretentiousness when I began arguing with myself about it. My girlfriend and I eventually called it a night when some Beavis & Butthead-sounding rando started creepily inquiring about our intentions with Ville, but it was still one of those magical times that ended perfectly in bed with BK fries and the Viva La Bam holiday special, “Where the Fuck is Santa?”
Cut to glorious old 2k16, my disillusionment with Netflix has pushed me into weeks of burning through old Bam DVDs and bootleg Jackass extras. It’s been an interesting ride, one that I had to let mull over in my “brainy worms,” as my good pal, Robin, would say before I could begin offering insights. Much like a WWE fight or a visit from the Easter Bunny, binge watching Viva La Bam again for the first time since middle school provided a bit of a smack in the face realization that it wasn’t as un-staged as my youth-brain remembered it being, but it’s still a fun event nonetheless. Whether it be the infamous “Don’t Feed Phil” episode or the one where Raab Himself marries an English-challenged mail-order bride in Vegas after Uncle Vito gets done receiving his first tattoo of, you guessed it, a heartagram, Viva La Bam is like that old friend you reconnect with and proceeds to never leave your side, as if nothing ever changed. Getting cute, getting drunk, or getting ready for bed – whatever the matter is, it’s the right time to reach for some Bam.
Low key, actually, no, high key, it didn’t really take long before my trip down memory lane started to pull at my fangirl heartstrings. Something about a man with hella rings, tats in varying quality, and a vague accent can really do it to a gal, and apparently I’m not alone in the least. Somewhat recently it was discovered that some crazed naked chick who alleged that her parents invented goats had somehow penetrated the security of Castle Bam, lived for months in a tree fort on the property, and even snuck up to his room and fingered herself on his floor. I think there’s something real special about all of the Jackass dudes, though, and I have zero complaints about their inability to keep their fucking clothes on. And even through all of their shenanigans, they’ve always managed to tote some hot long-term ladies. With the James Dean persona you get an added bonus of a killer sense of humor and a good heart. Even King Whippet himself, Steve-O, can suppress his inner Wild Boy long enough to protest Sea World and romance Kat Von D, and that there is beautiful. So yes, ladies and gay gents, just remember that there was a time before undercuts and new Tinder message saying “I want to kiss you where you pee,” and like with all courses of human history, we’re bound for a reboot. Love Metal is not dead, and neither is love.
But beyond the good music, the good times, and the good pick-up lines, why was Viva La Bam such a pivotal stop on the youth of a nation tour? For starters, I think it was one of few examples that depicted a typical suburban upbringing as a chance to create something lit from something lame, in addition to just being overall oddly realistic. Those weak ass Pennsylvania Townships rules that Bam and the gang were constantly running into and railing against were legit – that I can personally vouch for. I’ve got some family just over the Mason-Dixon that have told stories about Barney Fife writing people up for anything; not shoveling your sidewalk within two hours after a snow storm, parking your car the “wrong way” on the street, being a minor out past 9:00 – you name it. It’s a tough job, but someone has to mess with these motherfuckers on whatever the fuck community board, and I’m happy the responsibility has been taken on by eye candy and MTV for my viewing pleasure.
When it comes to Bam himself, I think where he truly succeeded was in his ability to sell a brand and full-blown lifestyle. I can already hear the argumentative bunch making the “stop making stupid people famous” argument, but I really encourage y’all to maybe rethink posting another enraged comment on that Cosmo article about the Kardashians. Consider this instead: sometimes in life, there are those people you meet that are deserving of attention, not because they’re some kind of prodigy, but because they’re just plain extra – crazy family, personality, fashion sense, lifestyle, etc. Bam definitely has legit skate skills, but few pro-skaters have been the phenomenon that he has been. Instead, he’sfamous for being himself, and call me a pleb, but that’s good enough for me.
Well, now that we’ve got that all settled, let’s rage!
P.S. Don’t try to stunt at home, kids. You ever see one of them “right before tragedy struck” pictures? Welp, above is one of them. Two words: vagina abrasion. My pussy is accepting well-wishes at jennaDIAG@gmail.com.
(Editor’s note – we recently rewatched Bam’s movie Haggard, and that movie is just as relevant now as it was then. I support this post 150%.. oh and Gnar Kill Fuckin’ suuuuuuuuuucks)