Over the last few years, we’ve experienced a reckoning with the public’s relationship with celebrities. We’ve looked back on previous scandalous headlines, invasive paparazzi shots and exploitative news stories of women like Britney Spears and Amanda Bynes, and in many cases, felt shame and regret. How did we let ourselves eat up salacious narratives about people in crisis without considering the consequences? How did we not see that our voyeurism would perpetuate their struggles further?
At the very least, we have done some course correction: In the case of Spears, for example, this reflection has directly contributed to the end of her allegedly abusive conservatorship. We know, then, that as consumers of pop culture, what we care about — and click on, and purchase — has the potential to influence celebrities themselves and their livelihoods.
It’s time, then, to care about Bam Margera.
Margera, from everything we know, has been in a rough state for some time now. He was first hospitalized for his alcoholism in 2009, marking the beginning of a long streak of binge drinking and drug abuse. The last 13 years of Margera’s life have been punctuated by several arrests, mental breakdowns and rehab stints, culminating in him getting kicked off Jackass Forever in 2021. Just yesterday, TMZ reported that Margera was missing from his court-mandated rehab facility, though he’s since been located and returned to treatment. It’s one of many examples of how Margera’s suffering continues to be made a spectacle of. But rather than consume the tawdry details of his addiction and mental health, we ought instead to consider our own responsibility.
Just with how Spears’ constant paparazzi surveillance and the pressure of the expectations of her as a teenage pop princess likely contributed to her own mental-health issues, it doesn’t seem improbable to suggest that the countless stunts and chaos of Jackass and Margera’s own reality TV shows may have contributed to his own. We literally watched a guy get drunk and get hit in the head on Viva La Bam for years.
This isn’t to say that Margera is void of personal responsibility. By some accounts, he’s treated people in his life very poorly. Jackass co-creator Jeff Tremaine has a restraining order against him for death threats, for instance — and we can hold him accountable for that. But we can also acknowledge that, as consumers of Margera content (his own and that of those who have traded on his name), maybe we all had some impact on his wellbeing. So maybe he deserves support from us now, just the same.
We’ve watched Bam Margera hurt himself for our entertainment for the last 20 years. It’s time for us to back him as he heals.