Thursday, July 09, 2009

Winning & Manhood: King of Kong (A Fistful of Quarters)

The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters is an interesting and popular 2007 documentary that tells the story of one man's desire to be the best at something -- the classic arcade game -- while another man tries to defend his claim to fame.

Steve Wiebe is clearly the hero of this documentary as an almost-successful guy who isn't really making it. I can't imagine how he must feel watching the footage of those near and dear to him describe his personal "almost there" status. Almost a great baseball player, almost a great musician, etc.

Watching the unique personalities in this film, there is something 'every-man' in Steve Wiebe's quest to have the world record in Donkey Kong.

I remember watching the exceptional documentary series Michael Apted's Seven Up series in 2007 and being struck by these real people (particularly there discontent and personal struggles in their 30s). And something happens to modern men as they grow out of adolescence and begin the routine of adulthood. It seems like there is a part of male hood in the modern world that is unconfirmed. A part of man that needs affirmation that is often unmet in the home, the work place, and so forth.

And so it is that I believe Steve Wiebe desired to be the best at something, even if it was as unconventional as a classic style arcade game.

Is all the hours, emotions, family strain, heart ache, and joy stick callous' worth it? I don't know. Does a Donkey Kong record make someone more of a man? Where can a man feel successful? Where can a man truly gain that sense of winning in our modern world?

Director Seth Gordon doesn't formally come out and discuss these things in his documentary, but I think it is within these issues is the relatable truth the makes people connect with this film.

It's not about Donkey Kong -- it's about being a man. It's about pride. It's about winning. And it probably leaves you wondering how it all maters in the big picture.

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