Whatever happened to the Colton Harris-Moore, the rebel-without-a-cause (aka the Barefoot Bandit)? Here was a teenager brought up in a turbulent low-income household who went on to earn international notoriety and a huge following in the social media space commencing back in 2010.
Everybody loves a bad boy and social networks were definitely rooting for this modern-day Robin Hood as he fled from one cat-burglary to the next throughout the Bahamas. For those that are unfamiliar with the life and times of the infamous Mr. Harris-Moore, his exploits grabbed national headlines during an alleged two-year crime spree that spanned nine states and prompted an international manhunt.
He was known for stealing airplanes, learning how to fly on the run and after landing in the Bahamas during one of his sojourns initiated home robberies, where he'd leave his 'chalked' barefoot-prints as a calling card. Hence the nickname.
It was at that time, based on the research I was conducting on Colton that I was approached by BBC Radio's news correspondent Mark Whitaker for an interview. Whitaker who has also written for The Times, Guardian, Independent, Observer and New Statesman set up a phone interview with me, from London to my home in Jersey City, New Jersey.
In my post, titled, "Aided By Social Media Accomplices, The Barefoot Bandit Bamboozles Authorities," I compared the 18-year old to Frank Abagnale Jr, the airline fraudster depicted by Leonardo DiCaprio in the 2002 flick, "Catch Me If You Can." Similar to his predecessor, it appears that since Harris-Moore's arrest and capture, there's been a book released with two rumored movie deals in the works.
However, it appears that Harris-Moore will not benefit monetarily from his illegal exploits. Currently serving a 7-year sentence at a Washington state prison, he's indicated that he's content in knowing that all revenues received from this intellectual property will be used for restitution. "I will cooperate with a movie company only if an agreement would assure full recovery for the victims whose property I invaded and stole,” Harris-Moore said in a statement released by his attorneys.
Screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, who wrote the award-winning film “Milk,” is working on a rumored movie script. “This movie deal has been in the works for months,” said Emma Scanlan, one of Harris-Moore's attorneys. “We were waiting on the sign-off from the U.S. Attorney's office. We are hopeful that the restitution will get paid based on this effort.” Robert Zemeckis is said to be the director and Zac Efron has been earmarked to fill the (vacant shoes) of the lead character.
While the kid's biography, titled "Taking Flight: The Hunt For A Young Outlaw," written by Bob Friel has been published, a second film to be directed by Pineapple Express' David Gordon Green is said to be produced by Green, Danny McBride, Jody Hill, and Matt Reilly for their production studio, Rough House Pictures.
Becoming part of the story, social media allows us to enter people's lives vicariously and actually interact. Like the branding of a product, the Barefoot Bandit's persona became bigger than life. Social Media followers embraced this real-life character because we like rooting for the underdog - even when people like him do not play by the rules. Following a renegade is as American as 'apple pie.' It's the 'dark side' of the American dream. We applaud a 'tainted innocent' who overcomes obstacles to achieve a goal. In Colton's case - it was against the law - but that's not problematic, because he did it in such a way that was romantic and adventuresome - appealing to our wilder nature.
Even to this day, Twitter followers continually reference the "Barefoot Bandit," as evidenced by this @steveaoki tweet tweeted just a few hours prior to this post. Oh, by the way, BB did not only enter homes barefoot, he sometimes also went 'bare-ass' naked!. Gotta love the kid!