The WIld and Wonderful White of West Virginia
Directed by Julian Nitzberg
Shoot-outs, robberies, gas-huffing, drug-dealing, pill-popping, murders, and tap dancing.” Way stranger than fiction, this wild jaw-dropper of a documentary will forever corrupt what pops in your mind at the mention of “family values.” At first glance, the White family are like something out of Devil’s Rejects with a bit of Unclue Goddamn. Hated by cops, politicians and many of their neighbours, the Whites live in the Appalachian Mountains and regularly break every law on the books. Many have either killed or cut a person up. They openly deal dope, and even the seniors get wasted, get laid and party like rock stars. Much of the clan get by on public assistance, a perk of having been classified as legally insane. Several are convinced they’re going to hell when they die, and that makes them live life for everything its worth. North Americans are proud of their freedom while they live mostly cautious, conservative lives. The Whites represent that much-talked-about freedom in its purest sense—which scares the hell out of everyone!
The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia follows the legendary White family, a gang of troublemakers, hated by just about everyone, including themselves. Most family members have killed or viciously assaulted someone, ended up in prison, developed a drug addiction, or managed to be classified legally insane. The Whites gained notoriety back in the early 1990s, when the PBS documentary Dancing Outlaw, profiling Jesco White, became something of a cult phenomenon. The key difference between these two films is one follows an interesting character, even if reviled, while Wild and Wonderful can’t seem to find anyone worthy of taking interest in, much less does it try to stay focused on a character long enough to make us care.
– Kyle Reese