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‘Borat,’ ‘Jackass,’ and the Legacy of Stunt Movies

jackass 2 exploding pinata
Paramount Pictures

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‘Borat,’ ‘Jackass,’ and the Legacy of Stunt Movies

Will the original social experiment films be able to stand up to the past decade of content that followed them?

With the recent announcements of new entries in the “Borat” and “Jackass” series, it seems appropriate to look back at these stunt/prank movies, and look at how they’ve endured and affected our current entertainment landscape.

The “Jackass” movies followed up on the short-lived yet beloved MTV series, and led to a trilogy of incredibly successful films. A fourth film with most of the original cast is also on the way. The movies featured skateboarding stunts, gross-out challenges, and pranks on unsuspecting cast members and the public at large.

Similarly, Sacha Baron Cohen‘s career has focused on using sensational, fictionalized personas in order to prank everyone from random people on the street to politicians. His work is often politically motivated. His most recent venture, “Who Is America?”, saw him using fake identities to interview politicians, commentators, and other public figures. Cohen’s other best-known projects, “Borat” and “Bruno,” sees him doing similar stunts, but generally more in public rather than with celebrities.

These series are coming back at an interesting time, as this style of comedy is still hugely popular. However, rather than parody TV shows or movies, this style of comedy has found a home online on social media platforms, especially YouTube. YouTube stars like the Paul brothers and Joey Salads have found huge success with the “social experiment” style of video. This content is watched by millions, and were consistently some of the highest viewed content on the site before the coronavirus pandemic limited person-to person interaction with strangers.

It’s going to be very interesting to see if Cohen and the “Jackass” crew will be able to find success with these new projects. After all, it has been 10 years since a main-series Jackass film has released, and 14 since the first Borat. A lot has changed since then, and these movies may have a hard time differentiating themselves from the sea of content that has followed in their wake, and probably inspired in large part by them.

Check out the official trailer for “Borat 2” hot off the press below.

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