A Quest for a Title

By: Lee Jones

The King of Kong. This title was given to not only a movie, but it was also given to a person. Billy Mitchell held this title for years, until an unemployed upstart, Steve Wiebe, decided to take it from him. Steve Wiebe is the protagonist of The King of Kong because he is the main character, as evidenced by the cameras following him around and telling his present story. The antagonist, Billy Mitchell, was portrayed in the movie as being mean spirited toward Steve Wiebe. He is shown as the antagonist by the fact that he is constantly opposed to Steve Wiebe as well as by his actions. He is shown ignoring Steve’s call and Steve told about how people were sent, possibly by Billy, to spy on Steve’s machine to make sure he was not cheating.

The entire movie was about two quests undertaken by the protagonist and antagonist. Steve Wiebe, the protagonist, undertook the quest to beat Billy’s record for Donkey Kong. Billy, on the other hand, started a quest to keep his title. These quests were the main story telling points throughout the movie. Without these quests, the movie would have no story and would collapse. Steve’s quest was successful, but in the end, Billy took his title back.

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.

That Lying Cheating No Good Hero

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. 

The true King of Kong….

By: Derek S.

Neither Steve Wiebe nor Billy Mitchell is the King of Kong. However, they are both great heroes that undertake the same quest with the goal of finishing the quest before the other. Yet, neither one of them has completed this quest. Yes, one man did advance farther than the other, but the real King of Kong was not defeated. Of course I am talking about the one and only…

Donkey Kong.

The evil King Donkey Kong still holds the Princess captive. He still stands upon the highest-most platform, taunting and laughing at all who attempt to claim his throne. He is even so powerful that when a hero thinks he is about to defeat the evil king, the hero just falls over dead. King Kong’s deadly power has come to been known as the “Kill Screen.” With a power such as this, who In the world may hope to ever defeat King Kong?

Steve Wiebe and Billy Mitchell are the greatest heroes that ever took on this quest. They climbed more platforms and jumped over more barrels than anyone ever before. These acts earned them medals in the shape of numbers that the people referred to as a “Score.” Steve Wiebe tried valiantly but ended his campaign against the wicked King Kong with a score of 1,049,100. This was was much higher than any score that came before him. However, Billy Mitchell embarked on the same quest just 6 months later and scored 1,050,200. Billy Mitchell has come the closest to defeating King Kong, thus making him the greatest hero of all.

In the end, all great heroes fall. Even though some may advance farther than others, the fact still remains that nobody has ever defeated King Kong in his 27 years of his world domination. Who will be the great hero that finally relieves the free peoples of earth from his tyranny?

Steve Wiebe: My Idol

By: Evan Schrager

The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters was a very interesting portrayal of the world of video games. It made competitive gaming look as important as competitive events such as the NBA and NFL. To me, it was quite amusing and entertaining to watch.

Steve Wiebe is the protagonist of the movie in my opinion. I think he is portrayed as the “family man” and is the more likeable of the two main characters. Steve was always “second-best” with everything he pursued in his lifetime. Between baseball, the drums, and Donkey Kong, Steve Wiebe could never grasp that number one title. His failure to achieve victory in competitive contests makes him the protagonist-he was always chasing that elusive designation as a “champion”.

So he decided to take up video games (an interesting choice, isn’t it?). After failing at more acceptable things in life, video games seemed like a practical idea to keep Steve occupied. He has a definite knack for excelling at what ever he puts his mind to. Throughout the movie, Steve’s struggle is portrayed in a frustrating and compelling manner. Many times, I found myself rooting for him.

Billy Mitchell was a very interesting character. The movie made him seem like somewhat of a villain. He embarrassingly stated so in an interview about the movie. As the viewer, you might feel bad for Billy Mitchell after hearing this interview- the movie really did make him look like a rude, arrogant, scumbag. However, he is not the protagonist. He was simply the obstacle that Steve Wiebe had to overcome scorewise (in the video game) as well as mentally.

Steve Wiebe absolutely undertook a quest to finally be the best at something for once. He achieved success on his quest and seemed to have learned a lot from it (Lots of EXP Points!). From the “phony board” to the live world record, he took a rough mental beating. I don’t think I would have lasted as long as Steve did in terms of determination and taking all the crap he took. He’s got a heart.

A parallel I noticed between the Wiebe-Mitchell rivalry is the rivalry between Gandalf and Sarumon in The Lord of the Rings. Although the wizard rivalry had much more of a good vs. evil theme, one was portrayed as the villain and one as the “good guy”. Billy Mitchell’s desire to be on top can be connected to Sarumon’s need for survival and safety. Sarumon joins the Dark Lord for the sole reason of being powerful and safe from their evil. Gandalf just wants peace and happiness to thrive in Middle Earth, and commits all his power to that cause. Steve Wiebe, while very intent on winning the title of Donkey Kong Champ, really served as a good parent and husband in the end, despite the lack of “butt-wiping”.

Steve “Weeb” is an overall awesome guy. I hope to share a beer (When I am 21, of course) with him one day like “Blogmaster” Hall.

Steve, Our Everyman

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.