My reaction to the death of Ryan Dunn last Monday can be summed up in one word:
Then, I found out "who" he was. He was one of the regulars on the TV series "Jackass", which aired on MTV for two years in the early 2000's and brought about three successful movies.
In a sense, the show's title said it all. It was the old Candid Camera show on drugs. The show's regulars, including Dunn, performed a variety of "stunts" to surprised on shocked onlookers, which ranged from ridiculous to vulgar to downright dangerous. Some, in fact, were so dangerous that, in spite of the obligatory "Don't try this at home" disclaimer at the beginning of the program, some were seriously injured when they tried them anyway.
At this point, I will supply my own disclaimer. I never...and I repeat, never, saw this program. The above description comes from a number of sources, from books to articles to entries on the web. But I wonder what Newton Minow, the one-time FCC chairman who, 50 years ago, called television a "vast wasteland", would think of "Jackass".
Dunn met his end, as I said, last Monday, in a horrific traffic accident in Pennsylvania, which happened, according to news reports, about a half an hour after he left a local bar. A bar employee told reporters he "didn't appear drunk", even though the same reports say bar patrons kept buying him drinks. But tests taken after his death tell a different story: his blood alcohol level was more than twice what is the legal limit in Pennsylvania (and West Virginia, Ohio and probably other states). Police also said the vehicle he was in was travelling at a high rate of speed.
Plus, in the social networking era, the world got to see Dunn in his last moments. Photographs showing him imbibing, apparently sent to his profile, were sent out all over cyberspace after his death.
I don't want to be insensitive about anyone's death. But it would appear Ryan Dunn died in the manner which made him famous (or infamous): by living dangerously.