Saturday, April 12, 2008

Do people see themselves?

I was watching the documentary The King of Kong the other day, and it inspired me to do some soul searching. That is probably not the most obvious response to a documentary about video games, but who wants to be obvious anyway?
The irrelevantly obvious question for most of us is, who would possibly put their life basically on hold to play early 80ies video games competitively? There's no money involved; it's just for the thrill of the kill screen: a screen where, once you've gone through all the levels a certain insane number of times, you just inexplicably die. At one point, there's an arcade full of people watching as Steve Weibe makes it to this screen in Donkey Kong, and...wait for it, wait for it...little mario spins around and falls off the screen. That's it.
Okay, so huge swaths of American and world culture love video games and play them obsessively. I think this is nuts, but I'm sure there are those who would consider it nuts to have spent roughly 27% of a life in reading books. I guess that makes us even.
Regardless, I was not inspired to reconsider my obssessive book reading. That was not what I gleaned from this oddly compelling documentary. It was the behavior of Billy Mitchell, the guy who had held the best Donkey Kong score for some twenty years. The whole movie he's kind of lurking around doing shady stuff. He won't ever sit down and play Weibe head to head but just sort of insinuates that he thinks Weibe is somehow a cheat.
Here's my question. Does this guy realize what an jerk-off he's being? I mean, does he know and not care or does he know and still can't stop himself or does he legitimately think he's a good and still cool guy with his awful blow-dried 80ies haircut and cheap theatrics?
I've wondered this often, like whenever I used see Dick Cheney being interviewed. Does he realize he's the manifestation of evil, or does he just think he's doing what's best for the American people? Actually those two things aren't by necessity mutually exclusive without taking a rather more than common long view, so we'll leave off on that.
Billy Mitchell made me wonder about myself. I don't think people dislike me, or that they think I'm a dick. I think they realize I'm moody and introspective and sometimes just want to be left the hell alone, but I wonder now. If this guy, who is so obviously a jerk, could maybe even think he was just too cool for school, what about myself?

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