Dusting Off: The Celebrity Criminal
We should emphasize, Kempt does not endorse criminal activity. A few parking tickets aside, we have spent our lives well within the social contract and abiding the due prescriptions of the law.
But sometimes, The Man just has it coming.
So for a time, it was nice having icons of freewheeling criminality like Jesse James and Pretty Boy Floyd roaming the country. They were icons of the same genial American chaos that gave us the Western—and they’re iconic enough to deserve a little dusting off…
Naturally, we’re not talking about petty criminals or genuinely frightening Lex Luthor-style villains. We’re thinking of that rare moment when a person gets so notorious, they become a folk hero. It used to happen all the time, but between closed-circuit cameras and the earnest efforts of law enforcement, we don’t see so many these days. That’s not to say we haven’t seen any at all.
The closest we’ve come in recent years was Colton Harris-Moore, also known as the Barefoot Bandit. He’s currently serving 13 years in the federal pen, but Colton burgled nearly a hundred homes, a small aircraft, a boat and two cars by the time the cops caught up with him. He also managed to fit in some Robin Hood-esque antics, like leaving $100 at a veterinary clinic, “for the care of animals.”
And like Pretty Boy Floyd, Colton had a real following even before his capture in the Bahamas. He had actual fans—so many that he’s nabbed a $1.3 million movie deal. (The money’s all going to his victims.) And we don’t blame them. It’s an inspiring story, all youth, rebellion and stolen planes.
Take a good look. You won’t be seeing another one like him for quite some time.
- — Russell Brandom