MTV shouldn’t make documentaries.
It already makes something distantly related to documentaries in the meaningless scripted horseshit it passes off as “Reality TV.” So it shouldn’t have surprised me that The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia, which I saw last night at the San Francisco Documentary Film Festival, was nothing more than a gawkfest – a gawkumentary, if you will.
You’ve seen this sort of gawkumentary before (see, e.g., Okie Noodling, about toothless hillbillies fond of bare-handed catfishing, or American Pimp, about crazy ass pimps) – a film that lets us in on the shocking world of some strange or disturbed subculture, with editing and music chosen for exaggerated effect, that makes us drop our jaws in horror and laugh our faces numb with delight.
The Wild and Wonderful Whites is no different. The film (though I cringe at calling it as such) spends a year following around a sprawling hillbilly family called the Whites, who live in and terrorize Boone County, West Virginia with their incessant cursing, partying, nudity, drug use, fighting, crime (including murder), sleeping around, and general mayhem.
So a year with the Whites will show you (spoiler alert, if you really care): Kirk White snorting drugs off a hospital table shortly after giving birth to her newborn baby; C.P.S. taking away Kirk’s newborn baby; Mamie White and others smoking what looks like crack at her 85-year-old mother Bertie Mae White’s birthday, to Bertie Mae’s disgust; Kirk bearing her nasty ass titties during her one last hurrah before rehab; and 22-year-old Brandon White getting sentenced to a shit-ton of years in prison for attempted murder and an all-night stand-off/shoot-out with the cops.
And a bunch of other shit piss fuck cocksucker motherfucker don’t I feel better about myself sitting in a small repertory theater with a bunch of other well-to-do whites (as in, white people, not members of the White family) laughing at these sorry white trash low lifes. Because that’s really the point of this gawkumentary.
Sadly, director Julien Nitzberg may be delusional enough to think he made a film with some humanity in it. The Whites “are the part of our country that is too often demonized or stereotyped,” he says. How Nitzberg’s shitshow is anything besides part of this problem is beyond me.
Maybe this is how the Whites really are, or maybe they’re hamming it up for the cameras (probably some of both, I’m guessing). I suppose there’s a discussion to be had about it, but Nitzberg has obliterated any vague interest I might’ve had in the Whites or his shitty gawkumentary.
I want my 84 minutes back.