Maybe you haven’t watched Joe Dirt since it stormed into theaters on the wings of classic rock power chords 15 years ago this week. Or maybe you revisited the goofy David Spade flick last year in preparation for the beautiful loser’s return with Joe Dirt 2. In either case, we’re here to reexamine the movie for its nuggets of redneck wisdom that were provided by the mulleted one known as Joe Dirt (pronounced Deer-tay if you want to “church it up”).
Turning to Joe Dirt for life advice might seem like hopeless endeavor — he did admit, “I just get stupider.” But as silly as the movie is, Joe’s quest to find his parents is chock-full of solid advice to aid you on your own life quest. (Just go with me here, okay?) If nothing else, it gives me a good excuse to pull out some of the movie’s more memorable moments.
So, put down your “whaaburger and french cries” and embrace the life lessons provided by Joe Dirt’s school of hard knocks.
Forget the haters.
Joe Dirt essentially spends the entire movie encountering one a-hole after another. From his radio station co-workers to the second biggest redneck in the movie, Robby (Kid Rock), and even his parents, Joe is seemingly surrounded by jerks who do nothing but kick him when he’s down (literally and figuratively). Joe never seems to let their negativity get to him, though, and simply dusts the dirt off his Def Leppard shirt and continues on.
While many would break down at the humiliation of becoming a human hot chili dart board, Joe simply acts as though he is unaffected by the torment. Sure, he takes more abuse than a safety bar on the tilt-a-whirl at the carnival where he works, but Joe still never lets the Robbies in his life keep him down.
Don’t worry about the trends.
Nothing about Joe Dirt is hip or with the times. Joe looks the part of a wannabe roadie trapped in a 1982 time-warp, but that’s okay with him. As he tells Zander Kelly (Dennis Miller), his facial hair simply grows into a “white trash” patchwork and he’s fine with it. While following the trends and trying to fit in is typically more a concern during the adolescent years, the messages of how to act and what to like, never really stop.
So, just what can we take away from JD’s outdated exterior and tastes? Be yourself and rock whatever may be your own version of a Joe Dirt Kentucky waterfall. Trends come and go, but being yourself never goes out of style — even if being yourself means looking like an extra from a .38 Special video.
Follow your own path.
For all of the terrible comebacks Joe Dirt spits out (the ones that usually result in a follow-up beating), his life mantra is pretty solid. “Life’s a garden, dig it? Ya make it work for ya.” Throughout the course of Joe Dirt, Joe’s met with one ridiculously stupid obstacle after another, yet he continues to find a way to push his greaseball self past them. Being thrown into a Silence of the Lambs-style pit; no biggie. Covered in poop from an old septic tank; he’s seen worse. As Brandy (Brittany Daniel) points out to Joe at the end of the movie, being deserted by his parents at the Grand Canyon was the best thing that could have happened to him. The experience made him into the redneck survivor that he is and fueled him with the drive of a 426 Hemi to “keep on keepin’ on.”
Seek out those who believe in you.
Just as important as not letting a Robby get the best of you, it’s crucial to surround yourself with a solid support system. While Joe’s consistently put down by others, he bounces back time and again, because of those in his corner pulling for him. While using Joe Dirt as an example of success might not be the best idea — he is living in a radio station boiler room when we meet him — the guy does seek out only those who lift him up. He taught Kicking Wing about “whisker biscuits, honky lighters, hoosker doos, hoosker don’ts” and the like, and in turn made a new partner in crime. So, cherish whoever the Brandy may be in your life, because we all need somebody to stick by us in those moments when we mistake a piece of space poo for a meteorite. Metaphorically speaking.
Take the occasional risk.
Joe Dirt’s all about taking risks — though, typically foolish, idiotic ones. While they normally result in “Dang!” followed by some sort of bodily harm, they’re still risks nonetheless. Plus, they make for good slapstick gags. Maybe joining some backwoods alligator sideshow isn’t for you — it’s definitely not on my bucket list. The risk itself isn’t the focus, but the lesson is: If you don’t take the occasional risk, you could be missing out on something really great and be left wondering “What if?” While Joe Dirt’s risk-taking more often than not landed him in some sort of comedic trouble, the guy can’t be accused of playing it safe.
Don’t sweat the setbacks.
Being covered in gallons of decades-old septic tank waste is a setback in every way shape and form. But even so, it’s not enough to deter Joe from continuing on with his mission to find his parents. Sure, his parents turned out to be total deadbeats who just wanted to mooch off of his new-found fame, but that’s beside the point. Life is full of metaphorical leaky septic tanks, it’s about how you overcome them that matters.
If there’s one single thing to take away from the pratfall-filled story that is “the saga of Dirty Joe,” it’s that confidence will get you far.