Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Just when you thought it was safe to be a hillbilly again. . .

March 3, 2009
Student filmmaker spends year documenting the outlandish life of Boone's 'Dancing Outlaw'
By Bill Lynch

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Budding filmmaker Paige Hess-Hill says the most important thing she learned last year following Jesco White and his family around "was to dodge an unwanted kiss."

. . .
Hess-Hill says she wasn't a fan or in awe of White's odd celebrity, but was able to help smooth things over between the out-of-state crew and the ever-suspicious, occasionally dangerous White family.

"My accent was close enough," she said. "It really helped."
The year spent watching the Whites wasn't always easy. Hess-Hill says she saw the best and worst from people. She knew what she was in for. The Whites have a long and bizarre history, including shooting up bars, brawls in the street and at least one incidence of burning down a funeral home. What she didn't expect was how other people behaved around them. In a bar, she watched a drowsy and drunken White stumble through a crowd, clearly unable to function, and fall on his face.

"I watched a woman kneel and take a picture of him from the floor."

Everybody seems to want something from Jesco White and his family, but Hess-Hill defends the documentary as not trying to unnecessarily exploit anyone. She says they were looking for legitimate answers.

"Everybody wants to know why?" She said. "Why are the Whites the way they are?"
. . .

I hear a lot from WV bloggers wondering why oh why people from outside WV think we're a bunch of ignorant hillbillies and continue to perpetrate all these unfair stereotypes.
Well lemme tell ya why. . . Jesco White and other WV morons. See, twenty years ago this guy revceived a bit of fame and fortune by simply being one of the most ignorant drunk assed buffoons to ever come out of WV. He was featured on the "Rosanne" (another white trash moron) Show as their drunken WV relative. Everything about this guy is a stereotype of WV ignorance. My question is: Why oh why do WVians have to parade this critter out as a representation of our Appalachian culture? Is he representative of Appalachian culture? Yes, in a way. I could probably turn over a few rocks and find bozos like Jesco from Florida to Maine. Ignorant white trash is not confined to West Virginia, but when you dress it up in a mountain accent a quart of rock gut wiskey and a bag of meth, you've got Snuffy Smith, Lil Abner and Pa Kettle all rolled up into one and downgraded for shock value. That's not Appalachian culture; it's just white trash squalor.

When are the stereotypes about WV going to change? When WVians quit exploiting absurdities like Jesco White into franchises for short term gain whenever some uninspired grad student needs a class project. We are our own worse enemies.

One thing I've learned in life is that as long as I'm blaming my problems on other people, there is absolutely nothing I can do to fix them. I can't change other people. When I look within myself, take responsibility for my own actions and examine what part I have played in the uncomfortable life situations I find myself in, I can address them and change those situations. WV needs to grow up and begin fixing itself from within and quit blaming the rest of the world for it's third world status. Only then will we become what many of us know we are capable of, but as long as morons like this "film make" are exploiting other morons like Jesco White, guess what the perceptions of the outside world will be. . .


rainywalker said...

Your post makes good sense and greed or moving up the ladder gives people the opportunity to make fun of us while we continue to give them the ammunition. Until we solve our own problems we can't expect people to look at us in a different light.

SagaciousHillbilly said...

Buzz, There is nothing you can do about the thousands and tens of thousands of Jesco Whites in WV and all over the country. We can only improve ourselves and those around us who are willing to accept our help toward improvement. If you change Jesco, who's next? Go down to the local beer joint where he hangs out. How many Jesco's are there? How many beer joints are there in WV? Ironically, I can take you to places 20 miles outside NYC and show you very similar environments filled with very similar dumbass bubbas. Why do you suppose it is that some states are perceived as backwaters while others get some other rep?

I wonder why it is that so many WVians give a shit what others think. I say lettem think what they think. It'll keep all them gotdayam yankees the fuck outta here.

I'm not an educator, but I know that education in this country has to change. A "family approach" to education? OK, but ultimately, education is an individual endeavor.

MacDaddy said...

West Virgina has such a rich history. Aren't there documentaries that show WV in a positive light?

What about the struggles with the big mining companies? Rather than look at someone like White, couldn't they look at a worker(s) who fought to make working in the minds safer?

MountainLaurel said...

SH, thanks for the comments. I didn't mean to be whining. It's just that I get frustrated, which was the source of my last post.

BB, constructivism has been used here but quite a while back, and coupled with adult literacy and education. Matter of fact, I worked with teachers on integrating this approach into teaching. the problem is that everyone lives and dies on AYP and test scores, and often constructivist approaches take longer. they result in deeper and greater learning later on, but teachers rightly fear the punishments of a lack of AYP.I'm hoping that a change in assessment measures and breaking the bonds of standardized testing will help to make constructivist approaches more appealing.

didn't expect a sermon, did you? ;-)

SagaciousHillbilly said...

That's all fine Buzz, but I've seen how well adult education works upon the ignorant and it's often not very successful. People get raised and set in certain ways and that's it. For my money, the only approach that will work is to educate and inspire the young. IF they know there's a better world waiting for them somewhere outside their own isolated and ignorant province, they will seek it. No, not all will, but we need some faction of the local village idiots to stick around to man the pumps, flip the burgers, sweep the streets, etc.
My mind has evolved and changed dramatically over the past 6 decades. I have learned a little bit about many, many different things, I've explored the world outside my locale. . . believe me, when I say this I say it with humility. . . well, maybe that's a stretch, but I'm not bragging. . . I am the exception. Yea, I'm not bragging, because I know people who have excelled and become highly accomplished at occupations and endeavors. I aint one of them. If I were I wouldn't be sitting here doing this.
But my point is, that those who go very far beyond their beginnings are the exception. We can expect to train every poor ignorant hillbilly to be a rocket scientist, but we can train a few of them to be really good teachers and maybe they will spawn a rocket scientist here and there. Those of us who do get beyond our upbringin need to never forget where we came from while presenting an image to the world that belies the ignorant hillbilly stereotype while still letting people know where we're from.
It starts and ends with education. Good innovative education.
Education takes on many forms, but we'll leave that for another topic.
Oh, and as for your nice speak about me, etc. . . I don't care! Have ya figured that out yet Daisy Mae?

SagaciousHillbilly said...

Damn, I try and interact with you on an intellectual and mutually respectful level and then I throw in one little, tiny, ittybitty "DaisyMae" in response to your jest on how I might react to your complimentary. . . oh, forget it. Just go take your meds. No sense even trying.

MountainLaurel said...

SH and BB, am I going to have to sit you in your corners? ;-)

MountainLaurel said...

MacDaddy, Matewan shows us in a positive light. Some of the Appalshop films do as well. But you're right...there are not many.

And SH, you said "I've seen how well adult education works upon the ignorant and it's often not very successful." Meaning that at times it is successful. I think we've got to have the opportunities there for folks who want to and can take advantages of them.

SagaciousHillbilly said...

Laurel, I absolutely agree with that. We should not remove or withhold opportunity for anyone. You'll notice I didn't reject any form of education being discussed despite my scepticism towards some forms. I'm a basic sort of guy who believes that education should be administered in basic forms. Sometimes I believe that educators and educational institutions get too caught up in themselves and ought to spend more time simply teaching kids the basics.
This from someone who had serious learning disabilities as a child and after decades of spending huge portions of the gov't treasuries on educational innovations, I watched as my daughter was shuffled and dismissed by the education system exactly the same way I was when I was a kid.
Think about this; The Wright brothers, the tens of thousands of engineers, technologist and such who put men on the moon, the creators of antibiotics and most modern vaccinations, Einstein, Newton, Galileo, DaVinci, Beethoven, Rembrant all received basic educations without all the modern hoopla being thrown around today. Hell, if I were given self paced learning back when I was 10 yrs old I'd still be in 5th grade.

SagaciousHillbilly said...

Oh and Buzz, sorry you are so full of pain and fear. As for outliving me. . . I'm in great shape, work hard outside every day, have great healthcare providers, eat healthy. I take very few things serious in life, especially events in cyber space and I live very comfortably with a very smart and very beautiful woman and I'm very grateful every single day for all that. Good luck outliving me. . . I aint that old.

Now why don't we just go back to reasonable discussion.

SagaciousHillbilly said...

Buzz, See, that's typical. You want to blame all your problems on someone else. "bringing up the meds?"
I made a cliche comment about "meds" or something. Does that mean you are being personally attacked? Are you on meds? Have you mentioned it on your blog? I don't know the answer to these questions, but I suspect my guesses would be accurate.
Really, I couldn't care less if you are on or off whatever meds. If you are, I hope they work for you.
You want an "apology?" OK;

I heareby apologize for any comments I have ever made that were offensive to BuzzardBilly. Buzzard Billy is a very intelligent and academically agile woman who deserves all the respect I can possibly muster here on my blog, her blog or anywhere a blogblog. I am so very very sorry for having ever made offensive comments toward you Buzzard Billy. Please accept my most humble apologies.

There, I hope that makes everything all better for you Buzz. Really, I do. What else can I do to improve YOUR life situation?

SagaciousHillbilly said...

Buzz, I did not label YOU a racist. I called you something like an apologist for WV racists. I still maintain that you were making excuses for the blatant racism that was WV voters in the primaries and the general election, although you did not comment on WV voting patterns after the general. Perhaps my comments caused you to think better of it. . . maybe not.
Apology? Just words. Cost nothing means little more. Did it make you feel better? Yes? Well good.
Your salvation does not lie in my words or anyone else's. That's just reality. I know it's not easy on the faint of heart, but real nonetheless.

Bemused said...

The answer to what to do is accept you have neither the responsibility to or the ability to do anything about it. Live and let live.

Sag and Buz come at the problem from different angles but both (although sag pays some lip service) start from the false premise that other people's way of life is their business because they live in the same place.

If you go through life thinking people who are different than you require YOUR guidance to improve themselves--- because they need to improve so they stop reflecting poorly on you. you simultaneously offend them, earning their dismissal and contribute to the poor perception from outsiders by seeming so preoccupied with your image and so insecure about it to think it is dependent on external factors.

If you spent the time you spend obsessing about hilbilly culture portrayals on yourself, you'd be better off and the culture would be no worse off.

SagaciousHillbilly said...

Bemused, It's good to be bemused.
If you were really familiar with the things I've written here, you'd know that I don't give shit what anybody thinks of me or WV. Really, ittruly is none of my business what you or anybody else might think, therefore whatever image WV has, I also really don't care.
I've mentioned quite a few times that I'd just as soon we maintain the backwoods hillbilly image. It keeps this place from being overrun by people looking for a rural environment. Let em go to NC, VT, etc.
I may amuse myself by fucking with you and your opinion, but care? Hardly.

Come back again. I'll try and post something that'll aggravate you. . . maybe some whiney post about how I can't get a decent latte in this town or the fact that there's not one single drive through coffee stand! Can you believe it? Backwater apes.

Imagesmith said...

http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/5570/1955/1600/Gate.jpg......entrance to Jesco's on Nutmeg Ln.

SagaciousHillbilly said...

iSmith, That says it all.

Anonymous said...

Just had to mention that that's not where Jesco lives.

I'll never understand why everyone is so intimidated by Jesco's story. He chose to live his life a certain way and, at some points, he has profited from it and, at other times, has suffered for it.

Anyone who wants to dismiss me as a "moron" or "film make" can go ahead. I was merely a student offered the opportunity to work on a real film shoot. But I'm glad that I did. It seems that Jesco is far less judgmental than a lot of other WVians.

Imagesmith said...

That is where he lived when Brad McElhinny & I went to interview him for the Charleston Daily Mail. He had a very well kept & neat trailer home he was living in. He had enough wood cut and split to carry him thru the winter, and his outhouse was about 150yds from the trailer where we found him on our arrival was also fragrant in a good way. The grounds were extremely well manicured & he spoke of how everyone....including Brad & I were trying to profit off him. His relatives at the time were selling items on the internet that he was not aware.

Anonymous said...

He hasn't lived there for quite a while. He is suspicious, and very rightfully so. The apartment he lives in now is also always well maintained and nice and neat.

Some members of his family will do anything to profit off of him. He is slowly becoming more and more reclusive as it becomes harder for him to play the Jesco role. I worry that his "fans" will be the death of him.