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King of Kong

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Michael Piergalski

on 9 May 2018

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Transcript of King of Kong

Question #1
"This is a war universe. War all the time. That is its nature. There may be other universes based on all sorts of other principles, but ours seems to be based on war and games. All games are basically hostile. Winners and losers. We see them all around us: the winners and the losers. The losers can oftentimes become winners, and the winners can very easily become losers. ”
Sample Project
The Documentary Project
Since the documentary....
+On June 13, 2007 (celebrating the film's release), Billy re-took the record at Fun Spot with a score of 1,050,200.
+Inspired by TKOK, Hank Chien beat the record in NY (1,061,700) Feb 26, 2010
+ Billy regained the record (1,062,800). He "quit" once he obtained the record.
+Steve re-took the record in Sept. 2010 (1,064,500)
+Hank Chien re-gained the record in 2011 and kept breaking it, topping out at 1,127,700 in 2012.
+Mitchell's videotaped record sent to the Funspot event was actually discarded after the event, and Walter Day apologized "for the mistake of approving this videotape without the benefit of a complete verification process." The score was reverted to Wiebe's score achieved at Funspot
+Gordon has claimed to have painted Billy Mitchell as a more light-hearted character than his real life persona concerning the movie. Gordon also claims that Billy Mitchell is "so much worse than we painted him out to be," but he chose to only include scenes that were necessary to tell the story, because the movie would have been "darker" had he not played with the facts
Weibe has stated that the scene in the restaurant where Mitchell avoids him leaves out the part that came later where Mitchell came over and apologized for being rude and introduced his wife
It is such a complicated conversation. The way we painted Billy and his actions is so much gentler that we could have, that it makes it hard for me to stomach the tiny little details that they are choosing to fight about, because his true actions were so ugly that we couldn't use the complete truth, meaning we didn't show him as dark as he really is. To have them take issue with these tiny, tiny little things makes me want to unveil the darker stuff, because it would silence them forever. But it is not worth my time. I don't think it is worth the kind of bad blood that could bring to start really opening Pandora's box. I could tell you off the record some of this stuff, but the dude is so much worse than we painted him out to be. So we just included the stuff in the movie that was necessary to tell the story and to understand Steve's fear of him and his reputation, but we didn't go into any of the stuff.
1. How does Gordon influence how the audience feels about Billy and Steve?

2. Does a documentary filmmaker have an obligation to be accurate?

3. Did Gordon use an blatant ethos, logos, or pathos appeals?

4. How does the term 'selective footage' influence how you feel about the doc?

5. Overall, what is the filmmaker's AGENDA?
Using examples from "The King of Kong" and from your own experience as evidence, to what extent is this statement true?
Question #2
"Obsession is the single most wasteful human activity, because with an obsession you keep coming back and back and back to the same question and never get an answer."
Is obsession the single most wasteful activity? Use examples from "The King of Kong" and from your own experience as your discuss your answer.
"The King of Kong" is a story of obsession and subculture. Billy Mitchell, the film's villain, reigns supreme of the world of retro competitive video-gaming. His opponent: Steve Wiebe, a mild-mannered middle school teacher who lacks the confidence to fully assert himself. Despite this, Steve has world-class talent on the game Donkey Kong. When he beats Billy's record at his home machine, Billy works to have Steve's score invalidated on a technicality. When Steve sets a new world record live at Fun Spot, Billy reveals a videotape of an even higher school, which is accepted by Twin Galaxies. Ultimately, Steve travels to Florida to duel Billy for a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records; Billy blows him off. Though Steve loses, he finds peace by the end of the film. As the credits roll, we learn that Steve succeeds in finally beating Billy's record score.
What I take away from this film is a knowledge of a pretty interesting sub-culture. I've also learned something about drive an obsession. If you let it, your single-mindedness can consume you, like it did Billy. It's best to live a life of moderation, like Steve.
#2: Purpose
Primarily, "The King of Kong" serves to entertain its audience. It tells a unique and unusual story and is a look into a little-known world.

The film also serves to clear Steve Wiebe's name. His association with Roy Schildt cast a shadow on his reputation. By the same token, "The King of Kong" exposes the poor behavior and pettiness of both Billy Mitchell and Twin Galaxies, though Walter Day makes amends by the end.
#3: The Ethos of Seth Gordon
Though director Seth Gordon has zero competitive gaming experience, he is a very capable filmmaker, having graduated from the Harvard School of Design and taught himself how to edit footage. He worked his way up to director from being a cameraman on a Dixie Chicks documentary.

Apart from the desire to tell a compelling narrative, we should believe Seth Gordon; it's not as if he has a horse in the race of competitive gaming.
#4: The Pathos of The King of Kong
Gordon establishes pathos by showing both Steve and his wife in tears at different points. With the narrative he chose, Gordon clearly wants the audience to root for the Wiebes; seeing them reduced to tears makes the audience hate Billy that much more.
By the same token, Gordon includes shots of Billy making arrogant, wise-cracking, and cruel comments. Again, this serves to demonized Billy in the eyes of the audience.
#5: Objective or Subjective?
Gordon's documentary can be seen as both objective and subjective. On the one hand, Gordon only includes footage of things the characters ACTUALLY say. If they come off as likeable or unlikeable, it's mostly of their own doing.
On the other hand, Gordon controls what goes into the film and what ends up on the cutting room floor. Maybe Billy has some redeeming qualities, but Gordon decided to leave them out in the interest of preserving the narrative. Gordon also strategically uses music (the Rocky theme) to portray Steve as the underdog hero. This can be seen as biased.
#6: Thoughts of a High-Profile Critic
Ann Hornaday of the Washington Post gave "TKOK" a negative review. She felt that the film's "lo-fi production values" detracted from its appeal. Additionally, she thinks that Gordon tries to "goose the drama" too much, and that it follows the formula of most competition films.
While I concede that "TKOK" slips into the cliches of most competition films, I feel that it's done in an ironic way. Having Steve "train" to the Rocky music underscores how ridiculous the gaming competition really is. And while the lo-fi production values worked for me, I also found that Gordon stressed the drama a bit too much. In the end, there was little payoff for all of the suspense, as the show-down never occured.
Works Cited
"Seth Gordon Bio." Tribute, n.d. Web. 13 May 2013.
Hornaday, Ann. "The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters." Washington Post 24 Aug 2007. Web. 13 May 2013.
I am an artist. Please don't revere me!
+Bo is extremely critical of himself and artists in general. Write an EDITORIAL for the Beechbark in which you argue for or against mandatory arts classes in high school all 4 years.
Is Bo right?
+Many people consider films to be text. And one genre film is especially fascinating: non-fiction.
+ We will watch a documentary together and analyze it for subjectivity/objectivity, ethos/logos/pathos, and narrative structure.
+Then, next week, you will watch the documentary of your choosing. Next week, you will work to analyze it, research your filmmaker, compare it to King of Kong, and critique it.
Period 5: Log into a computer
K-PREP On-Demand Writing
+Students take on-demand writing in grades 8, 10, and 11.
+In grade 10, you write two essays:
-One Stand-Alone Prompt (40 min.)
-One Passage-based Prompt (90 min.)
+There are 3 modes of writing they could ask you to write in:
a. Write a NARRATIVE
b. Write to EXPLAIN & INFORM
c. Write to ARGUE
I don't think you'll see this one
How We Will Prepare for It:
1.) Do a few pre-writing activities (planning)
2.) Critique at a few sample essays
3.) Look at several past prompts
4.) Go over the Writing Reference Sheet you get
Big Deal = Write in the form they ask you to.




An opinionated article...first person is expected...body similar to an essay
Address your audience in opening and closing....1st person is expected
A storyline with a conflict, rising action and falling action. You are not expected to have a thesis.
Standard 5-paragraph essay
Similar to an ESSAY, but only intended to inform.
Petit is not the first visionary thinker to be described as eccentric, mad, and passionate. What do you think of Petit? Which other visionary thinkers would you compare him to?
Do you think there is a point to these kinds of daring feats, or are they just dangerous and unnecessary?
Petit became famous after walking the wire, but what about the people who helped him—should they have been celebrated as well? To what extent would you be able to put your own needs aside in order to achieve someone else’s vision?
Documentary Project Guidelines:
a. Must be 'feature length' (in the 90 minute range)
b. Must have been professionally reviewed by a critic
c. Must be school appropriate subject matter.
d. Must have watched by 5/14
What to Watch for:
+A novel narrative structure (a 'heist' film, but in doc. form)
+Reenactments used heavily, since actual cameras could not be used during their illegal activities
+How the music can influence the audience's perception of the film
+Does James Marsh have an agenda?
Sit with your partner:
1. Marie/Victoria
2. Natalie/Jacqueline
3. Hank/Claire
4. Briney/Noah
5. Brand/Sophia
6. Ashley/Jared
7. Faith/Zach
8. Tyler/Abby
9. Dylan/Josh
10. Nick/Lian
1. Jordan/Joseph
2. Josie/Tierney
3. Jonah/Serina
4. Jacob/Aaron
You have 7 minutes - answer your question in as much detail as possible
Sit with your partner:
1. Will/Trent
2. Adam/Chloe
3. Jacob/Ashley
4. John/London/TJ
5. Danny/Dayton
6. Olivia Mid/Gavin
7. Olivia Mas/Christian
8. Luke/Grace/Isiah
9. Tanner/Connor

Sit with your partner:
1. Eden/Lucas
2. Abby/Clayton
3. Luke/Carly
4. Grant/Gieske
5. Lindsey/Chance
6. Lucy/Ellie
7. Keaton/Steven
8. Kallie / Ashley
9. Elizabeth/Merrin
10. Nolan / Clay
1. Payden/Jackie
2. Lucas/Marley
3. Noah/Katherine
4. John/Ava
5. Mattie/Molly
Sit with your partner:
1. Duncan/Ando
2. Chloe/Noah
3. Jackson/Mitch
4. Logan/Landon
5. JD/John
6. Parker/Jackson
7. Emma/Brian
8. Sarah/Devin
9. Chase/Austin
You have 7 minutes - answer your question in as much detail as possible
You have 7 minutes - answer your question in as much detail as possible
You have 7 minutes - answer your question in as much detail as possible
3nd Period Exam
-Take out 2 sheets of loose-leaf paper
-Consult the rubric on the back for how you'll be graded.
a.) What scenes does Gordon include which support the perception of Billy Mitchell as the narrative's villain?
b.) How does Gordon portray Steve Wiebe as the narrative's underdog? How does he engender sympathy?
Jiro Dreams of Sushi
King of Kong
Grizzly Man
Between the Folds
Man on Wire
Indie Game
20 Feet from Stardom
March of the Penguins
Exit through the Giftshop
The Cove
Cutie and the Boxer
Hoop Dreams
Man vs. Snake
Special When Lit
Full transcript