By: Henry J. Fromage (Four Beers) –
Ten years after PBS’s short profile of Jesco White, the Dancing Outlaw, the surprising reach of the half hour television special manifested itself in the form of another documentary film crew descending on his corner of West Virginia. The focus this time was on the rest of the White clan, who we caught glimpses of in the original. If anything, they are even more substance-addled, petty criminal, and irresistibly magnetic as Jesco, and their appeal as subjects is unsurprising. The identity of the production company, however…
Kinda makes a lot of sense, actually
Turning bad decision making into addicting entertainment is Dickhouse and Johnny Knoxville’s forte, and the saga of the Whites is chock full of bad decisions. Make no mistake, some of these make for solid, if peculiar entertainment. Their parties are like car crashes, beautiful destruction and mangled bodies that you can’t tear your eyes away from, even if you feel like you should.
I think his given name is “Car Wreck”
The filmmakers also make an admirable attempt at putting all the drugs, carousing, and petty crime into a social context. Their theory is that the inherent hopelessness of the lives of miners, who live constantly with potential death and financial ruin looming above them, has been bred into the family line, and it stays even after they’ve left the mines. What the footage itself makes clear is that they’re right in laying the blame at the feat of parenting, at least.
This movie shows exactly why DCFS exists. The staggering amount of bad parenting on display in this film is made all the more tragic when you realize that these people really do love their children. They know how to mouth words like ‘education’ and ‘better future’, but have no idea how these things actually happen. Watching this might not be pure entertainment, but it’s essential to understanding how a group of people gets to this point.
It’s hard to see whether the hard-hitting serious stuff was on purpose or not when the soundtrack and editing is so goddam stupid. Turns out the skills you develop shooting an episode of Jackass aren’t universally transferable.
Who’d a thunk?
This applies doubly to sound effects. Unless you’re a morning talk show host, No, just No. And if you’re a morning talk show host, I’d recommend Drano, but the hell you’re already trapped in is punishment enough.
Yes, I catch your subliminal “Kill Me” messages, but I’m ignoring them on purpose
There’s a thin line between documenting an outrageous lifestyle and glorifying it, a line that Dickhouse covered in blood and feces a long time ago. The difference between running Bam Margera through a taser obstacle course and hopping your eight year old up on caffeine (and yellow jackets? Caffeine never did that to me.) until he starts making frighteningly convincing death threats on your boyfriend should probably be obvious, but this documentary is too busy looking for the right ‘boink’ noise for when he slips in the shiv.
If you need another hit of West Virginia Whites action, this’ll do the trick, but don’t confuse it with competent documentary.
Bonus Drinking Game
Take a Drink: every time a substance is abused
Take a Drink: every time you unconsciously reach for the phone to call DCFS
Take a Drink: every time you spot a missing tooth
Take a Drink: for every sound effect
Do a Shot: for unsolicited and horrifying nudity