People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has asked prosecutors in Los Angeles and San Luis Obispo counties to investigate the production of the latest “Jackass” movie, which opened Friday and includes several scenes of different animals being struck or otherwise goaded into biting or stinging the film’s participants, the organization said.
PETA officials said they sent the letters Friday and asked for criminal investigations in Los Angeles and San Luis Obispo — where some of the movie’s action was filmed — but have not heard back from either office.
The group says it took the action “following a screening of `Jackass Forever’ that reveals what seems inarguably cruel treatment of animals, including a stunt in which stars Johnny Knoxville and Steve-O provoke honeybees into stinging Steve-O’s penis (killing many of them) and another in which a scorpion is put in someone’s mouth and hit repeatedly until the animal stings.”
Representatives for Paramount Pictures, Knoxville and Steve-O did not respond to a request for comment.
“PETA contacted Paramount, so they know that the cruel displays of animal exploitation in `Jackass Forever’ are not only unethical but potentially illegal — yet they’ve chosen to move forward with the release anyway, even featuring additional stunts in the final cut that appear to harm animals,” officials said.
Other scenes in the film cited by the animal rights group include “a spider being provoked into biting an actor’s chest, a turtle being harassed and goaded until the animal bites an actor’s testicles, a captive snake harangued and provoked into biting a person’s nose, a tarantula trapped in a tube between two participants’ faces, and a bull deliberately agitated into charging Knoxville,” PETA said.
“If Steve-O and Johnny Knoxville want to make a career out of nasty little boy fantasies, they’re entitled to, as long as they don’t stress, harm, poke, prod, scare, or bother animals who are used as living props for their idiocy,” said Lisa Lange, PETA senior vice president.
“PETA is reminding city and county prosecutors that no one is above the law and that while the rest of the world wants to save bees and recognizes animals as sentient individuals, these jackasses exploit and abuse them for fun,” she added.
The allegations are ironic in the case of Steve-O, who has voiced his concern for animal welfare in the past and even spoken out about his vegan diet — although he clarified in 2019 that he eats fish and was therefore no longer a vegan but a pescatarian.
“Jackass Forever” — the latest in a line of films based on the MTV television show that first aired in 2000 — is on track to be the top-grossing film at the box office this weekend, with industry estimates predicting a gross of $20.7 million at North American theaters.