I’ve seen “Dancing Outlaw” a thousand times, and, in fact, gave a VHS copy away as a VERY thoughtful wedding gift once 20 years ago. I’ve seen Jesco White perform live three or four times. I was thrilled and horrified once to see him at the Foodland on Bigley Avenue in Charleston, pushing a grocery cart with a wary look on his face. I’ve even gone to Jesco’s home — for journalistic purposes — talked to him for a while and got a hug when I left. I found him to be guarded but welcoming, kind but troubled, infinitely quotable but ultimately nonsensical and talented but wasted (in a figurative sense). That’s why he’s a fascinating character. I enjoy him but feel sorry for him.
So the more thought I’ve given to Jesco, the more I’ve not wanted to watch “The Wild and Wonderful Whites.”
To be blunt, I’m afraid it’s a hicksploitation movie.
The review on Filmhash is actually pretty good and gets into that notion.
The resolve of the people of Boone County is unmistakable. In fact, they wish more attention was payed to the good that can come from tucked away corners of the world, and not families like the Whites. A county official is interviewed for the film and tells the story about a local kid getting a full-ride scholarship to MIT. “Why aren’t they following him around with a camera,” he asks. The answer of course is simple. Why is Jersey Shore watched by millions? I understand the frustration of the good citizens of Boone, who pay their taxes and wish that the stereotypes associated with the “backwoods” of Appalachia would stop being reenforced by probing documentarists. But I also think that at the very least The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia aims to capture a moment in time about a group of people that are slowly disappearing under the weight of their own fame and self-destruction. Like it or not, the Whites represent a unique portrait of Appalachian life, and I think they deserve a place in film memory.
Have you seen Wild and Wonderful Whites? What did you think?
Meanwhile, I was sorry to read on Jesco’s official webpage that he’s not feeling well. I went to the page looking for live appearance information. Jesco was supposed to have dates late this month in Charlotte, N.C., and Spartanburg, S.C., but those sound like they might be in doubt:
Jesco has been a little under the weather lately. He’s been having some stomach problems. As he told me yesterday “I don’t know if it’s cancer … or where I’ve been drinking since I was a young kid”. Regardless … he’s hesitant to go to the doctor. So, we’ll keep you posted. Cartoon Network has been calling … wanting Jesco to come back to Atlanta and do another episode of Squidbillies. Jesco appears to be interested … but he’s just a little ‘down’ and not sure what he wants to do. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that he decides to do it.