By: Dan Nockels
I can dispense with the question at hand very easily Steve Weibe is the protagonist of the film King of Kong. The protagonist is the main character, who opposes the antagonist in other words the hero. In this film an even easier question to answer is who the antagonist is Billy. If I were to take the movie at face value and met him on the street I would probably punch him in the mouth. That a fairly good indication of who the antagonist is supposed to be. In the story Steve opposes Billy thus Steve is the protagonist. Sure he’s a perfectionist with deep seeded issues with self worth and in apparent inability to succeed in real life pursuits but he sure is the protagonist, the hero.
But I don’t know Billy how do I know he isn’t the jerk he acts like in the movie. Well first off when he objected to his portrayal in the film he used the term “son of a gun” which is just about the best thing I have ever read in an MTV interview. After watching as many commercials for reality TV as I have I have determined that if you film someone for long enough they will do something stupid. Such as for example state that comments they might make are as controversial as the abortion issue. That was pretty dumb but film yourself for 300 hours and see if you don’t say something about that stupid.
Next things that a brief wikipedia search turned up Billy and Steve were on friendly terms, had played together and Steve held the title even after his video submission was deemed inadmissible. In addition to that the sheer number of people they had to demonize to make Steve seem like a hero, Billy most notably but also all of the people from Twin Galaxies. The movie made them seem like Billy’s lackeys just out to preserve his record. Their suspicion about the board being tampered with is given about 15 seconds of air time and we are only shown parts of Billy’s Tape that are fuzzy implying strongly that Billy was lying about the whole thing. Despite Twin Galaxies on screen being designated as so trustworthy that Guinness Book of World Records relies on them for video game records.
My favorite implication of all is that Steve is the quintessential family man while Billy is married to a fake trophy wife. This one is a little more subtle but barely. Steve’s wife seems like a supportive strong woman who helps her family through a hard time. Billy’s wife doesn’t get any lines and is only shown on his arm. Which is more befitting a hero and which a villain? So in the movie Steve is the protagonist as unearned a title as that may be.
By : Dan Nockels
The comparison between the movie and the video game versions of lord of the rings is in many ways unfair. It is a bit like comparing playing little league baseball to watching the big leagues knock home runs out of the park albeit with significantly more bloodshed on both counts. At my particular point in the game, low level, pigs serve as quite enough of a challenge, hordes of Uruk-Hai might be slightly beyond a hobbit fresh off the create character screen.
Although if Merry and Pippin are any indication I should be able to kill them if I can find out how to pick up a stone and throw it. Which brings me to an important difference between the movie and the game, balance and transparency. Being a protagonist is not the equivalent of god mode, your character is in balance with the tasks you are meant to complete. This makes the game more difficult and consistent than it seemed in the movie, as well as fun for more than a short while. For example there is no super duper crit that would allow me to kill Sauron in by chopping off his fingers, nor is there any chance of me taking three giant black death arrows to the chest and still fighting ala Boromir. Your health, energy and damage are transparent and knowable. Unlike in real life and the movie I can see how many arrows I can take to the face before I die (or retreat, in this pansy case). Unfortunately that means I can’t pull an Aragorn and maim and slaughter my way through whole armies without breaking a sweat (yet!).
Another dissimilarity is the first person perspective to the game I see events happening in the world of Tolken through the eyes of my hobbit or at least the disembodied eye that follows him around. In the movie the audience bounced around following Bilbo, Gandalf or Frodo sometimes independently and sometimes together. In the game we can meet these characters, but we will still only see through the eyes of our character.
Pacing is another difference I don’t remember Bilbo needing to kill so many dogs and pigs before leaving in The Hobbit. The game takes its time we get to see and struggle though whatever the environment throws at us while in the movie for the sake of time and entertainment value the long trek up a mountain is summed up in about a minute.
It is however important to note the differences in the way the story is told aside both media are visual and focus on actions of the main characters impart their tale to the audience. This Visual kinetic feel permeates both the video game and movie making the differences in the details while the wide strokes are very similar. That said my favorite element of the game so far is the opportunity to play as a chicken. Seriously, playing as a fowl was way too cool, they should have included it in the movie.
By Justin G.
Let me just say that I really liked the movie The King of Kong. I thought it was a great story of the underdog eventually prevailing over the seemingly unbeatable foe (mirroring LOTR?), and I thought it was completely true. Oh, the disappointment I felt when I heard that certain important things were omitted or shortened…
While watching the movie, there is just no way to view anyone but Steve Wiebe as the protagonist. He is portrayed as a realy nice guy, a family man, a hard worker, and (most importantly) the absolute underdog. The movie seems to portray a conspiracy against Steve; a plot to give Billy the high score no matter what. It makes for a compelling story, but finding out that some things were omitted for dramatic effect was a real let-down for me. And, upon hearing that things were left unsaid, I began to question whether things in the movie were actually real. The moviemakers made it seem as if the leaders of Twin Galaxies, while so reluctant to accept Steve’s high score, took Billy’s with no reservations (despite the odd qualities of the videotape). However, I don’t really think that was such a short process anymore. Also, the scenes in Billy’s hometown arcade (after thinking about it further) seemed too weird. I really think Billy would have at least acknowledged Steve, if not talk to him at length about strategy and such.
As far as comparisons to LOTR go, I would say that the filmmakers want us to think that Billy is like Sauron. His is at the top of the classic video game pyramid, and (arguably) has complete control over many important figures in that field. He also seems to have some kind of alliance with Walter Day (Saruman). Billy, in that case, would be Frodo, and his family would be the rest of the hobbits. Roy Schildt (I think) would be a (much) lamer version of Boromir. Please let me explain this. Boromir, despite all his faults (and there were many), in the end only wanted to help Frodo. Roy Schildt definitely was one of the greatest Steve Wiebe supporters, even if it was only out of spite for Billy Mitchell.
At least that’s how I think the filmmakers wanted it. In real life, I think there is no bad guy, no protagonist, no conspiracies, just a bunch of guys who, no matter how much they insist that it’s a business, really like video games.
By Lynne M.
I absolutely loved the movie The King of Kong. I enjoyed every character and his or her addition to the duel between Billy and Steve. There were some very strange people (namely Mr. Kuh) who seemed like they fit better into a cult than in the arcade. I think it’s easy to answer the question of who is the protagonist in the movie, but my view has shifted since I learned the real life story of the men’s battle.
The movie obviously makes Billy seem like a pompous and arrogant has-been hero trying to maintain his title at all costs. From shots of Billy combing his outdated hair style numerous times to his selfish quotes about how great he is, the movie is definitely geared at making Billy seem like the antagonist. Which clearly makes Steve the protagonist, since they are rivals that loathe each other (or so the movie claims).
Steve’s role as the protagonist in the movie is quite stereotypical. He is the underdog that has had failure in life and dreams of rising to the top. He finally accomplishes his goal, or so he thinks, only to find out that his massive score was dismissed due to suspicions concerning his relationship with “Mr. Awesome”. The movie definitely focuses on Steve’s struggles to become the best at something and makes Billy seem like the leader of the evil forces (Twin Galaxies) that keep Steve from accomplishing his goal.
Both of the characters go on quests throughout the movie, but they are all for the same reason: to be the best at Donkey Kong. Steve even has to figure out how to transport himself across the country to play the game live to make his score count. Billy shortcuts his way through his quest by submitting a video instead of playing live, which is preferred.
The ending rocked. It was brief, but it made me happy that Steve finally made it to the top… until I found out at our next class that Billy was on top again. I guess they will have to continue their epic quest for life.
By Justin “JCov” Covington
Well, I must certainly say The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters was a very interesting documentary. To me it was the traditional sports underdog story, but with nerds. Here you have Billy Mitchell, the standard, the guy that has been reigning champ for some twenty years. Yet, along comes Steve Wiebe. Now you say to yourself, “look at this lonesome loser!” Yes, he may be the newcomer. He may not have ever been first in anything. But get real! Does he really have the right to look through the Guinness Book of World Records and say “Hey, I’ve never been the best at anything, but I betcha I could beat that Donkey Kong guy’s record!” What a jerk right? Exactly.
So you see, the protagonist, hero if you must, is obviously Billy Mitchell. Here’s a guy who has held onto this record for two decades. He makes his living off of his success! His record means a whole lot to him. So who’s the villain you ask? Well obviously it’s Wiebe! That guy comes along and vows to take what is rightfully Billy’s! And for what? Just to make himself feel better? Couldn’t he have tried to hold his breath for the longest amount of time or something?
Anyhow, the film would try and lead you to believe that Billy was defeated by the villain. It would try and skew your knowledge by thinking that at the last moment Wiebe snatched the record once and for all from Billy. However, if you have a chance to check out the Twin Galaxies highscoreres for Donkey Kong, http://www.twingalaxies.com/index.aspx?c=22&pi=2&gi=3852&vi=22, then you might be suprised to see our hero on top! Take that Wiebe! You don’t mess with a man’s sauce or his Donkey Kong record!
by: Uhyeok Bang
“Lord of the Kong and Donkey Ring”—that is what I thought of when I decided to try to find analogous characters in “Lord of the Rings” to Billy Mitchell and Steve Wiebe. There are, I guess, many similar characters to Steve Wiebe, an obvious “good guy” in the movie “King of Kong: a fistful of quarters”, like Aragorn, Legolas and many others. However, when I was thinking of Billy, Sauron, the Dark Lord, came to my mind.
Why Sauron? First of all, both of them are (or were) the absolute rulers of their worlds; Sauron had an endless might that no one could stand against and Billy had been a champion of the game “Donkey Kong” for more than 20 years.
Secondly, they face strong opponents that put an end to their reigns. The Dark Lord faces an army of men and elves and, even though overwhelming them with his power, loses his precious ring and disappears from the land of Middle Earth. Billy faces the fiercest opponent ever, Steve Wiebe, who succeeds in breaking Billy’s World Record of “Donkey Kong”.
Finally, both Sauron and Billy had mighty items that could decide the fate of humanity: the One Ring and the “Copy” video tape. The Dark Lord crafted the mighty One Ring to rule over the World and he put all his might and evil into it. The ring remains as a main issue for humanity over thousands of years, even after a doom of Sauron. I clearly remember the scene where a video tape, sent by Billy Mitchell himself, was revealed to people after a triumphal performance of Steve Wiebe. The tape reminded me of the One ring, as people looked at the tape like they were facing a mighty item that could change the future of the universe.
Comparing characters of a famous novel and an interesting movie provided me and my mind a lot of pleasure. From now I happily proclaim Billy Mitchell as a Lord of Kong and his tape as a Donkey Ring. May God and angels bless their reign over the land of Middle Donkey Kong
By Colin Doberstein
This is not what I intended to blog about. I was in the midst of wrapping up a straightforward piece on how Twin Galaxies mastermind Walter Day was essentially Saruman, when a new thought nearly blew my mind. If Walter was Saruman, that essentially made Billy Sauron, Steve Frodo, Steve’s wife Sam, Roy Schildt… and that’s where I stopped. Where in this mixed up Fellowship of Kong: Fistful of Rings world did Mr. Awesome fit in? He wasn’t really on either side, but he helped Steve Wiebaggins in his struggles with Saruman the Walter and Billy Mitchell (if anyone comes up with a good way of combing Billy and Sauron’s names, please let me know). The dark side of Roy’s personality did cause problems for Steve, though. What else was there to Roy’s character? He wanted his 15 minutes of fame, they were his, his own, and Billy had taken them from him, his precious, precious fame.
So I had my “eureka” moment: Roy Shildt is Gollum. He acts as a sort of guide to Steve (who is Frodo for the intent of this increasingly convoluted post), but his personal issues interfere with the progress of his protégé. He has two sides, Steve’s mentor (Sméagol), and the man obsessed with getting his revenge on Billy (Gollum). Most importantly, Mr. Awesome is obsessed with what was taken from him long ago, and now everything that he does is based on his bitterness at what he sees as robbery. Sounds like Gollum to me.
In conclusion, I’m still working on the Sauron/Billy mash up. Perhaps The Dark Lord in his guise as Billy Necromitchell? As long as we can refer to Mount Doom as World Record Headquarters, the rest can wait until next time.