Film critic Roger Ebert got blasted recently when he tweeted that the friends of "Jackass" movie star Ryan Dunn should not have let him drink and drive. Dunn died when he slammed his car into a bank of trees at a speed in excess of 130 miles. Earlier that evening, he had consumed 11 alcoholic beverages. A toxicology reported showed that his blood alcohol level was 0.196% — more than twice the state's legal limit of 0.08%.
Notwithstanding these facts, Dunn's friend and fellow "Jackass" performer Bam Margera responded to Ebert's comment by tweeting back, "Fuck you! Millions of people are crying right now, shut your fat fucking mouth."
I'm sure Margera is genuinely grieving, but his attack on Ebert and other comments that Margera has made since Dunn's death suggest to me that he was part of the reason for this tragic accident. It is obvious, both from the circumstances on the night Dunn died and from Margera's subsequent statements, that Dunn and Margera were part of a social circle which glorifies drinking and at least tolerated Dunn's habit of speeding and dangerous driving.
The accident that killed Dunn was not in fact his first automobile accident. In 1995, Bam Margera was one of the passengers when Dunn lost control of a vehicle, which "flipped 8½ times" into incoming traffic and caused multiple injuries. The accident that killed him is not his first time driving drunk either. Dunn was pulled over in 2005 with a blood alcohol level higher than 0.16% and had to undergo safe driving classes and substance abuse counseling to avoid jail time — counseling that he evidently disregarded.
As for Bam Margera, he has a history himself of alcohol, drug abuse and dangerous driving. In July 2009, he was taken from his home to the hospital by paramedics and state troopers following a four-day drinking binge. Margera's comment on the incident? He blamed his wife for driving him to drink, declaring, "I may get a divorce ... booze helps." YouTube actually has an assortment of videos that show Margera falling down drunk and getting into fights at bars. And check out this video, which captures Margera in the driver's seat (with Dunn in the passenger's seat) snickering at a state trooper after being pulled over for what the officer describes as "speeding, reckless endangerment, careless driving, and passing people on the shoulder of the interstate."
You might expect that Margera would learn something from the death of his friend, but so far it doesn't seem that he has. In an interview a week after the accident, Margera — obviously impaired and slurring his words — downplayed alcohol as a cause for the crash. "That doesn't really matter at all," he said. "Like, it really doesn't. First of all, I'll say it about myself. It takes me three beers to feel normal. For real. So like if he drinks three beers and like three girly shots, like, whatever. It has nothing to do with that."