In the mid-2000’s, MTV produced numerous “pseudo-reality” shows in order to satisfy their audience’s demand for more reality based programming. These shows were based off the concept of actual people in staged but realistic scenarios. It gave the audience the illusion that this was reality, but really this scenario was staged to get the most entertainment as possible. I even wrote an article about this. And this is where people shit on MTV’s reality television. They complain about stupid people just being stupid on TV so that stupid people at home can be entertained.
Take Bam Margera for instance. This man has starred in the MTV show Jackass, which can be described as a bunch of guys hurting themselves by doing stupid pranks, stunts, and sketches just to entertain the lowest common denominator. On top of that he has had two spin offs which are pretty much the same thing. So why are people so enthralled by him? Because Bam Margera is a real life Peter Pan.
Peter Pan is described as the boy who never grew up. The whole idea around Peter Pan’s character is that he represents the blissful ignorance of adolescence. That is, he lives in the present, he lacks empathy, and everything revolves around the search for a new adventure. Peter Pan shows how those things could be freeing, but also we mature for a reason…he is “gay, innocent, and heartless”.
The point is that Bam Margera has made a career on essentially having Peter Pan syndrome. When he was 19, he started making the CKY video series which were four skate videos filled with him and his friends doing stunts, sketches, random public pranks, and of course skating. As I’ve wrote about before, this skate video encompasses the personality of the group. All of the segments were either them skating, hanging out, or a sketch that was probably devised by someone saying “this would be hilarious…someone get a camera”. This style was brought on to Jackass when Bam was recruited to that show and then this style was given two outlets with his spinoffs Viva La Bam and Bam’s Unholy Union.
An episode of Viva La Bam can be described as Bam and his friends playing. Like a play date from adolescence, this group of friends make their own fun and look for adventure just like Peter Pan. In “Uncivil War” the group is shooting a potato gun at random targets. And this isn’t scripted down to the exact moment, remember…its MTV’s pseudo-reality…they give them a situation, point a camera at them and say go. So the Peter Pan in Bam: focuses on the present not consequences, finds an adventure, and goes with it no matter who or what he hurts.
For example, in the episode I previously mentioned: “Uncivil War”, Bam finds a cannon ball in the backyard so he decides he wants to “play civil war” and turns out all electricity in the house. He takes away all the cars and replaces them with horse and buggy. He even lets civil war reenactment armies camp and fight in his backyard. In the “State of Bam” episode, Bam and his friends “create their own country” using trailers. They basically make their own paradise with skate ramps and cheap trailers that they can spray paint and wreck. At one point they both put one of the trailers in the middle of the lake and drove a car into the lake. In “CKY challenge” Bam made a game with a giant wheel that creates a large ridiculous scavenger hunt-like game. It involved challenges like dressing like a pilgrim then stealing a turkey and bringing it to a restaurant.
All of these ridiculous premises could be described as imaginative and similar to a child “playing” or “pretending”. All the games and all the imagining is then mirrored with Bam’s juvenile lack of empathy as most of these things end up with him making a mess or hurting someone. He is infamous for causing his mother a lot of stress on camera as he either fills her car with snow or pours dirt on the kitchen floor in order to make blueprints for a demolition derby. He is a real life Peter Pan. And if you think he is just some immature asshole with a TV show…really think about Peter Pan’s character and notice that there isn’t a difference.