Tag Archives: television

Childish Imagination via MTV

Still of an episode of Viva La Bam, in which Bam Margera buys a new house

Still of an episode of Viva La Bam, in which Bam Margera buys a new house

The popular television show Viva La Bam aired on MTV for four seasons from 2003 through 2005. It starred Bam Margera, who, before this show, is best known for being a stuntman on Jackass. The premise is that Margera sets up elaborate pranks often involving dangerous stunts. Viva La Bam came out at the time that reality shows were rapidly becoming popular. For example,  the massive hit The Osbournes was still a new phenomenon.

Why had Viva La Bam been so successful? Obviously, it had a major broadcasting corporation marketing and distributing it internationally, but the show also has an additional appeal, which is that it presents the world as a playground, in which Bam is a somewhat ordinary citizen, who wakes up each day and decides on a new “adventure” for himself. Money is never an obstacle (given Margera’s own wealth, and the staggering budget of MTV), and—with only a few phone calls—Bam transforms his world into the realization of his dream. The strictures of social conduct don’t concern him, as is often the case with the air of celebrity. His roles as a stuntman and professional skateboarder make him seem invincible if only because his body withstands so much violence. As silly as his creations are, the audience takes delight in imagining themselves in that situation. Needless to say the show is childish, but that is part of its appeal, and even its most admiring fans knew this. But like children who are told to use their imagination while listening to a story, the audience is allowed to pretend to be free and play games. Perhaps the enjoyment of the show, and the desire to be in Margera’s shoes—if only for the productive capabilities he wields in the world of the show—is all the stronger because he is presented as a normal person with accidental fortune. The temptation is thus to believe that the freedom manifested in Margera is only a function of the accumulation of funds.

Re-watching GitS: SAC

Lately I’ve been re-watching the first two seasons (Gigs) of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, and I’m disappointed to find that it’s not as good this time. I knew it had its flaws before, but now they seem even more glaring. Perhaps the new Ghost in the Shell: Arise season is worthwhile though.