King of Kong: A Fistful of Characters.
by, 12-18-2011 at 12:23 AM (642 Views)
The year is 1982 you have a fistful of quarters burning a hole in your pocket. The only sensible thing would be to spend them on video games. King of Kong is a very entertaining documentary about high scores and the arcade paradise that was the 1980's. The makers of this film must have decided that in order to get more asses in the seats it would be prudent to create an entertaining rivalry. They did just that by characterizing Billy Mitchell as the cartoon bad guy and by using Steve Wiebe as a sort of counter point to Billy's brash way of speaking. I'm not sure that this was a fair characterization but it certainly is an entertaining one.
Billy Mitchell as the Terminator now that's a villain I can get behind!
The film does a lot to shed light on the great work of Walter Day the creator of high score record keeping and the awesome twin galaxies but of course Chasing ghosts does this as well. King of Kong is more about the two main characters Billy Mitchell who at the time of the film held the high score for Donkey Kong and the up and coming challenger Steve Wiebe who wants to be the new record holder. Billy is portrayed in the film as a real asshole that won't even give Steve the time of day and Wiebe is portrayed as the geeky social outcast that cries too much.
It really doesn't matter if you agree with the characterizations or not they are simply that characterizations. It is classic film making 101 to make one of the characters a bad guy and to pit him against a loser that we all hope in the end will prevail. Don't we all root for the underdog after all? Sure this could be considered shoddy film making but to be honest I think the person who got the biggest end of the stick was Walter Day. At times it seemed that they were portraying Walter as a kind of lackey for the great Billy Mitchell.This is certainly not the case, Walter Day is a very important person responsible for bringing attention to gaming records. Without him there probably would be no record keeping of game scores and of course no King of Kong. Besides he's a really nice guy and he provides an important service for gamers.
Now I will say this I have heard some interviews of Billy Mitchell and he does at least seem to have quite the narcissistic personality. So perhaps his characterization in the film is not all that unfair. Friends of Billy will always come to his rescue and call this film a character assassination and to be honest that could be true. Maybe Billy is in fact a very nice guy. I have no way of knowing for sure.
What is important however is that you watch this film, if you haven't already, simply because it is an interesting look at arcade gaming and the cut throat world of high score competition. I give this film 4 out of 5 bottles of Billy's hot sauce for entertainment value alone!
Now I'm sure that almost every member of this site has seen this film and that everyone has their own opinions on the great Billy Mitchell VS Steve Wiebe debate. I would like to hear your take on things.
What was your favorite part of this film? What did you dislike about it? Please leave a comment below as well as check out my new website where I put all of my little blogs and projects in one convenient location. Please check it out!