The Mental Burdens of a Top Dog
By: Sam F
Character parallels can be seen between many works and Lord of the Rings and King of Kong is a good example. Billy and Steve in King of Kong mimic the relationship between Frodo and Sam in the LOTR series. For Billy, the source of his superiority complex roots itself in his long-term dominance in the world of arcade games. For Frodo, his similar complex draws from the ring and the burdening sense of responsibility that comes with it.
Billy and Frodo are both portrayed by the director as pompous and arrogant. Unique past experiences have helped build up this arrogance, or seeming arrogance, over other characters. Billy is like Frodo in that he is forced by being number one to be heartlessly competitive to help maintain top status. Being number one must be done alone, as there is no room for two at the top of the podium. Frodo similarly must carry his “top-dog status” alone as the ring is a burden for only one. This solo journey for each character likely builds on this arrogance. Clearly this attitude could simply be resentment to the fact that each character’s lifestyle requires working alone in their conquests. Frodo is also similar in that he does not seem to enjoy his burden of the ring. He wishes he could give it up but ultimately understands that the ring is his responsibility. Billy also shows fatigue with his fight to be at the top, as he must face the frustrations of people like Steve Wiebe challenging his record. When he receives the phone call that Steve had surpassed him, his weariness was very apparent.
Another paralleled pair between LOTR and King of Kong is Sam and Steve. These are secondary characters to the holders of the spotlight. Both share similar qualities and roles in their respective movies. Sam is a conveyer of fair play and being as helpful as he can. He is a very untroubled and has good morals. The entire movie he is working tirelessly to help Frodo and is seen as a threat. Steve shares this type of relationship with Billy in King of Kong. He is simply trying to take a small piece of the spotlight for himself and right things in his life by winning for once. Billy views Steve as a threat and treats him as such throughout the movie. Sam and Steve both share a sense of innocence; however, that blinds them to the mental states of their foil characters, Frodo and Billy, in each movie. They don’t seem to realize the burdens of being in the spotlight and this naivety makes the lead characters frustrations more understandable.