Well, not just MTV, but also Knoxville’s friends, photographers, and pretty much everyone except Knoxville himself. No one wanted to shoot Johnny Knoxville in the chest with a gun. Go figure.
In this clip from 2010, which was uploaded to The Howard Stern Show YouTube channel over the weekend, Knoxville tells Howard Stern about the early days of Jackass, how no one wanted to shoot him in the chest with a gun, and MTV’s refusal to air the clip.
Howard Stern: I heard on the original tapes that you gave to MTV—they wouldn’t air this—you wanted someone to shoot you with a bullet while you were wearing a bulletproof vest. Am I correct?
Johnny Knoxville: Yes.
HS: You couldn’t find anyone to shoot you. You understand why?
JK: Well, I had my friend doing it, but we got out to the place and he said, “I’m not doing it,” and the photographer refused to take pictures, and I was like, “Oh, boy.”
HS: “Oh, boy, look at these wimps.” But you understand why. If you die, they’ve essentially shot you and they’re gonna end up in jail.
JK: Right, I understand why they didn’t want to, but, you know, I just shot myself.
Jackass historians will recognize this stunt as “Self Defense,” which sees Knoxville testing out pepper spray, a stun gun, and a taser gun on himself. While the first three tests made their way into the Jackass pilot, footage of Knoxville shooting himself only appeared on the Big Brother skateboarding videos. It also occasionally makes its way to YouTube and other video sites.
“Self Defense” was also part of the original article pitch from Knoxville to then-Big Brother skateboarding magazine editor Jeff Tremaine, who would later co-create and direct Jackass. Knoxville wanted to test these self-defense weapons for Big Brother when Tremaine suggested they also film the segment. The rest is, as they say, incredibly dangerous and should not be attempted at home.
Of course, the shot didn’t kill Knoxville, nor did rollerskating in a stampede. And if the imminent release of Jackass Forever proves anything, it’s that maybe Knoxville is indestructible.
Jackass Forever opens in theaters on February 4, 2022.