After the massive success of the MTV's showcase of silly and irresponsible behavior 'Jackass' and it's two movie spin-offs, the star of said movies Johnny Knoxville set his sights on Hollywood. He tried his hand at acting, some would say he failed. Now he's taking another shot as a documentary producer. His camera crew followed a family of West Virginia outlaws for over a year and they came up with the film ‘The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia’.
The Whites are notorious in their little coal-mining corner of the Appalachian Mountains, and came to widespread attention when mountain-dancing, gasoline-huffing Jesco White starred in a 1991 PBS documentary called “The Dancing Outlaw.” In the years since, the Whites have been involved in gun fights, robberies, drug deals and murder. Through it all, four generations of Whites have maintained a fast-paced, often darkly comic lifestyle shaped by the poverty of their surroundings.
“They live very intense lives,” said Knoxville. “They’re very charismatic, very entertaining. They live extremely fast and not on the edge—just completely over the edge. And a lot of them unfortunately end up doing time and dying violently. Roll the cameras, you’re going to get footage.”
It looks like Knoxville is sticking with what he knows then, nutty people doing nutty things. A lot of people look down on Jackass and it's various off-shoots but I personally think there is a genuine visceral thrill when you see someone doing something that you would never dream a human could or would do. Especially when you know it hasn't been faked for the cameras. I certainly don't class it as high art but as a guilty pleasure there's little better.
As for this film, the argument should be made that these people should not be glamorized, they shouldn't become celebrities for their criminal immoral behavior... but when has that ever been the case? Some of the most famous, romanticized figures in history have been criminals (Billy the Kid, Al Capone etc) the only difference here is that it is being delivered to your eyeballs in a 21st century context.