By: Max Mam
When I first sat down to watch The King of Kong, I was expecting to endure an hour and a half or so of a boring documentary about some arcade player looking to make a name for himself. I had no idea, however, that throughout the course of the film I would grow to become emotionally attached to Steve’s struggle to attain the world record on Donkey Kong.
Steve Wiebe is the protagonist of The King of Kong. But more than that, he is the only character I felt any emotional link during the entire film. I, along with many other viewers, felt his triumph when he scored his first 1 million+ point game in his garage, his anguish when his record was denied, and his joy when he finally bested Billy Mitchell in the record books.
So why do we all root for Steve Wiebe and make him the hero of our story? Well perhaps part of it is the slant that the movie director applied to the film in order to increase the entertainment value. Even so, I think it is the fact that all of us know what it is like to be the underdog, to want something so much that we work tirelessly to get it. Steve Wiebe is our everyman. His victories are our victories and his failures are ours as well. We feel his painful shortcomings in our lives every time we fail at something and we can easily understand his desire for success.
So why isn’t Billy Mitchell our protagonist? I mean, he certainly is extraordinary and is the current world record holder of the Donkey Kong high score. He even has his own hot sauce! Again, the director certainly biased the film towards Steve, yet even beyond that I feel it is because Billy is so good that many of us can’t truly relate to him. How many of us hold multiple world records for arcade games and how many times have we been hailed as the best arcade game player of our era? He is simply out of our league. We can never truly relate to Billy Mitchell and that is why we all want Steve as our protagonist.