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Dancing Outlaw II: Jesco Goes to Hollywood (1999)

| Documentary, Short
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Vaguely sickening
6 March 2006 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

All 'Dancing Outlaw' stand as examples of questionable ethics in documentary film-making, which predate the recent disgraceful trends in 'reality TV' towards voyeurism to the extent of subject exploitation. Throughout, it's difficult to tell whether Jacob Young (himself a native West Virginian) is presenting Jesco in an attempt to create a well-rounded but sympathetic representation of his character, or whether this is a mere pretence for some ever-popular 'point and laugh at the redneck' fare. This sequel in particular leaves a nasty taste in the mouth - particularly the scene in which Jesco is pretty much forced by Tom Arnold, at the request of a furious Roseanne, to cover his lopsided swastika tattoo (the connotations of which were unknown to Jesco) with three ludicrously overlarge and ugly roses, only for Jesco's scene to be left on the cutting room floor. Throughout his Hollywood 'adventure', Jesco carries himself with the air of a true southern gentleman, but is treated so utterly patronisingly it's difficult to watch.

Overall, it stands as a testament to the division, not merely within celebrity culture, but in American society, between the haves and have-nots, and the perpetuation of these disadvantages as perfectly viable public entertainment. This documentary seems to portray Jesco's story - as superficially as possible - as one of rags to riches. If you ask Jesco, however, who is reportedly steeped in more poverty and strife than ever, he'll doubtlessly tell you a different story. Only, unfortunately for him, there are no cameras left around to hear it.


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