Connecticut Sen. Joseph Lieberman--an outspoken critic of reality TV--called on MTV this week to rein in the show's antics, saying he intends "to make clear to the network's owners that we expect more from them. "It is irresponsible for MTV to air these kinds of stunts on a program clearly popular with young teens, to air it at a time when many of them are likely to be watching, and to do so without adequate warnings," Lieberman said.
Jason Lind of Torrington was severely burned last Friday night when his friends poured gasoline on his feet and legs, trying to imitate a stunt pulled by "Jackass" host Johnny Knoxville, who lit himself on fire--but only after donning fire-retardant gear under the supervision of a stuntman. Knoxville's stunt also unfolded next to a pool, in case he needed to jump in the water to extinguish himself (he didn't).
Lind and his friends apparently took no precautions that could have averted the tragedy. Lind is reported in critical condition in the burn unit of Shriner's Hospital for Children in Boston with second- and third-degree burns. One of Lind's friends has been arrested and charged with reckless endangerment.
The network denies any irresponsibility surrounding the incident--and declined to make available any officials to discuss it. "It is made extremely clear throughout the show, through the use of written and verbal warnings, that none of the stunts featured should be tried at home," the network said in a prepared statement. "The show airs with a TVMA (mature audiences only) rating and warnings throughout that specifically state, 'The following show features stunts performed by professionals and/or total idiots under very strict control and supervision," reads the network's statement. "MTV and the producers insist that neither you or anyone else attempt to recreate or perform anything you have seen on this show."
"Our thoughts are with the young man and his family and we wish him a full and speedy recovery," the network said.
This isn't the first time MTV has been in the news regarding fire. Several years ago, a youngster claimed he burned down his house after hearing the animated duo " Beavis and Butt-head" repeatedy chant the words, "Fire! Fire!" MTV subsequently deleted any reference to fire out of all "Beavis and Butt-head" episodes.