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."
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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?"
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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. . .