Jesse James has published a memoir describing his life and hard times. Many won't sympathize, but he comes across as a decent -- if scarred -- man. He has had considerable life success in a number of arenas, at the same time that he can be a screw-up. And he resents Bullock, and did during the marriage.

 

The Stanton Peele Addiction Website, May 16, 2011. This blog post also appeared on Stanton's Addiction in Society blog at PsychologyToday.com.

Jesse James Resents Sandra Bullock, and He Should

Jesse James has told his story in a memoir, American Outlaw; he's doing media promoting the book.

James wasn't raised with a silver spoon in his mouth. He's from South Central LA, where he was the only white kid in his neighborhood. His father was abusive. He had early success in high school as a football star.

But he drank heavily, got in bar fights, and stole cars -- which led to a 90-day jail stint, which discouraged the many colleges (including USC) that were interested in him.  Missing out on those scholarships is his biggest regret.

James overcame that setback, and became a rock and entertainment bodyguard. He was strong and tough. And he was reliable (unlike the drug-sniffing stars he guarded). Then he got into making motorcycles, and started his own shop - West Coast Choppers - which led to a TV reality show called Monster Garage.

Although obviously James has a self-image problem that contributes to his screwing up at key points in his life, he also seems to be attractive to men and women, he's not obnoxious (some might even call him endearing), he is capable of working hard (football, then choppers), and he's not a stupid man.

Somewhat short on insight, he's thinking more about himself lately:

I think I've spent a good chunk of the last five or six years worrying only about her [Bullock] and what she thinks and what I should do and, you know, controlling all my movements and everything else and I think it's time to worry about Jesse, and making sure Jesse's happy.

Self-referential, I know. He cheated on his wife because he didn't feel comfortable in the relationship. He felt inferior, or not up to the standard of leading man to America's Sweetheart. You only have to watch him speak for a short time to see that he's not a relaxed public person. Yet, at the same time, he seeks attention (remember that he was on Celebrity Apprentice?)

So why did he cheat on Sandy? Because he chafed at living in a world that wasn't his. As nice as Bullock is, James was obviously playing second fiddle to her. He says of his new squeeze that they are in a real partnership -- that he has greater intimacy with her than he ever had with Bullock.  I believe that he is more comfortable with his new tatooed girlfriend than he was with Bullock. Really, what were he and -- especially -- Bullock thinking?

Piers Morgan's reaction while interviewing James is pretty typical: "The two of you (James and his new fiancée) look like you belong together - you and Sandra didn't." 

"I was friends with my girlfriend before we became involved.  I was never really friends with Sandy."

Although James is careful to accept responsibility for his actions - he was the cheater, after all - and to be respectful of Bullock, there are clear resentments. He labels the Hollywood world phony. He rejects Bullock's slobbering tribute to him at the Golden Globe Awards, saying - "She gave the exact same speech four different times." Morgan: "What's your point?" James: "What's her job?" (Correct answer: "actor.")

WARNING! FOLLOWING MAY BE DISTURBING TO THOSE SENSITIVE TO CHILD ABUSE

The worst consequences of all this concern the four children -- and they don't make Bullock look good.  James is a seemingly caring father to his three daughters (he's been married three times).  Bullock had become deeply involved with the girls. But he hasn't seen Bullock since the break-up and doesn't talk to her. His youngest daughter in particular misses Bullock -- to whom she was closer than her own mother.

And James is "not allowed" to see the son the couple adopted together. Although this hurts him, he is oddly passive about and accepting of this "decision."  It's not clear who won't let him see the child -- Bullock (not a court) may have barred him. His daughters miss their brother, according to James.

I'm not defending James, just describing his point of view, state of mind, and often unspoken resentment.

Oh, he totally disowns having Nazi sympathies. I believe him. Mea culpa.