Sunday, October 21, 2012

What's With Guys Like Jesse James?

My brother in law, Michael, just posted a song on Facebook by Billy Bragg and Wilco called The Unwelcome Guest. The song's about Jesse James, but the lyrics tend to be a bit obscure. Why, Michael wondered, does Jesse James refer to himself as the unwelcome guest?

I'm no expert on Jesse James, but my guess is the song pretty accurately describes the way the outlaw saw himself. For all his brutality, Jesse James, like many criminals, presented himself as the poverty stricken victim of an unfair society. Therefore, robbing places where the rich kept money, like banks or trains, made him the unwelcome guest the song refers to. 

All of this, of course, gives rise to a larger question. What is it about complete sociopaths that we find so fascinating? After all, Brad Pitt himself starred as Jesse James in a movie just a few years back. There must be something innate about us - our own darker natures, perhaps - which gives people like Jesse James their allure. Maybe it's only natural to find such people fascinating, then. When they start becoming influential, however...

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