A Fistful of Strangely Appealing Moments

As a super competitive person and someone who is into video games, I found this movie to be very appealing. The movie wasted no time getting straight into the action, showcasing Billy Mitchell’s total dominance of the competition in setting the record score for Donkey Kong. There was a bit more background later given on the game, and several people passionately discussing the deep intricacies of the game, illustrating why exactly it is so difficult.

Billy made it very obvious that he was proud of this accomplishment, and then conquered more than just Donkey Kong. The documentary went into his similar victory with Pac Man. What became most striking to me about Billy’s character was the extent to which he believed in his own legend. While at first this seemed indicative of an arrogant character, it became obvious very shortly that everyone else fed his ego to that point. Throughout the early part of the film, people were talking about how legendary Billy was, how unstoppable Billy was, and one man even went so far as to go on camera and say that because Billy beat him, he was a better person. Therefore Billy’s seemingly overinflated ego wasn’t his own fault, but a result of the feelings of everyone around him.

The presentation of Steve Wiebe was an extremely welcome entrance due to his contrast. Steve was a family man, an underdog, someone who was presented as very talented but self destructive. Additionally, the fact that he got into Donkey Kong because he lost his job put him in a very humbling light and made him feel very approachable. His attitude and determination to do well at Donkey Kong almost appeared tragic because of the sacrifice of time he made from his family to play the game, but on the other hand it was inspirational because he became exceptional and travelled very far out of his comfort zone to prove to the gaming community he was the best.

While Steve did have a victory in reaching the kill screen at the arcade, it proved short lived as Billy came back and beat him and then Steve lost the world record. It looked for a second that Steve would be down and out, but his determination had him come back and beat Billy later. Personally, I would have loved to see the victory more drawn out and been able to see more of the reactions from everyone after Steve beat Billy, but this ending was certainly preferable then if it was just cut off.

-Jeremy

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1 thought on “A Fistful of Strangely Appealing Moments”

  1. I really liked the sophistication with which you discussed Billy (as well as Steve) in this post. I think it’s far too easy to view Billy as simply a villainous, arrogant, awful person without looking at the social context in which he operates and trying to understand how he came to be that way.

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