I watched The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia on Netflix tonight and can’t say enough good things about it.
I love the polar-opposite culture of this self-described “redneck hillbilly” family of West Virginia. It’s an entire generation of substance-abusing, probably-not-inbred-but-who-knows, promiscuous criminals who were not the slightest shy about baring it all to a documentary crew for a full year.
The musical score was very well done; the right mix of Appalachian folk and redneck rock. Some of the best scenes are with Hank Williams III singing and playing his acoustic guitar on a picnic bench with Jesco White dance-tapping on the table top.
My sister recently moved to West Virginia and has been sharing the culture shock of the poorer areas she visits for her job. It reminded me of Steven Soderbergh’s 2006 film, Bubble, which although fictional, is set in backwardsville WV, and also David Sutherland’s Country Boys film, set in Kentucky.
I know, I know, I know. These films are not representative of the fine people of these states. However, stereotypes and urban legends tend to be grounded in truths.
I spent a lot of time in rural Kentucky in the past couple of years and have certainly seen some poor areas, but readily admit when I’m not watching these films, I tend to forget about how those kinds of conditions truly impact the crime and education of the area’s youth.
The scene in Wild and Wonderful where the single mom is doing lines off the hospital end table immediately after giving birth was gut-wrenching, and I found myself cheering the state as they took custody of the baby. Later, the mom heads to rehab but not before a 48 hour binge, where I found myself cheering to see how messed up her family and friends could get her before she went clean.
I suppose that’s because this film is unapologetic – both glorifying and shining a bright spotlight on the mutant harvest of what few seeds are planted in Boone County, WV.
Sadly/gladly (I’m undecided), only one of them escaped Boone County — and the fate of ending up pregnant, dead or in jail. Know where he moved? Minneapolis. Classic.
The film barely touched on him and doesn’t say how he ended up relocating, or if he’s still here and successful, but I guess it’s a glimmer of hope that you don’t always have to settle on becoming a product of your environment.
Looking for a good pick on your streaming Netflix tonight? Check this one out.