I always dread explaining the plot of The King of Kong: Fistful of Quarters (2007) to people who haven’t seen it or heard of it before. The reason being is, the documentary/mockumentary created by producer, Seth Gordon and directed by Ed Cunningham about Twin Galaxies and competitive Donkey Kong playing, is one hot mess of creative fabrications (by Twin Galaxies) mixed with heavy doses of shocking-beautiful truth (from Gordon).
I seriously hate parts of the movie, mostly the sections where a porno-haired Billy Mitchell is hamming it up, spitting out rehearsed and tired “witticisms” like a third-rate actor in a public access commercial for a local used car lot, thinking he looks cool. He doesn’t. The producer and director actually couldn’t stand the guy, either, and cut out stuff he said and did just so he wouldn’t turn viewers off.
But a part of me also loves the film, too, for its brutally honest and shocking depictions of wide-open insider collusion, the dark side, if you will, of a Twin Galaxies that existed as an “old boys club” and operated that way for a very long time. Creepier still is old Twin Galaxies was apparently completely oblivious to the fact they looked this way in the film, and even wrote teeming protests after the documentary was released, accusing the producers of “purposely portraying them dishonestly”. They didn’t, though. Billy Mitchell and old Twin Galaxies were really that smarmy.
What I’m trying to say is, I never know how to accurately explain the documentary to someone who doesn’t know much about Twin Galaxies culture beforehand. I guess it bothers me that I can’t say that the documentary is 100% factual, but I also can’t say it’s a total lie, either. The King of Kong is, for want of a better description, an interesting pastiche created by piecing together the trash and the treasures of a classic arcade gaming scene. You get a gem in one hand, and a turd in the other.
If you haven’t seen or heard of it, it’s a “good against evil” film about two middle-aged Donkey Kong players, Steve Wiebe (Good guy) and Billy Mitchell (Bad Guy), who end up locked in a fierce battle against each other as “Good Guy Wiebe” tries to take the coveted world record high score spot at Twin Galaxies away from “Bad Guy Mitchell” although, truth be told, Mitchell wasn’t even the world record holder on Donkey Kong or Donkey Kong Junior*.
*NOTE: (Tim Sczerby, of Auburn, NY, broke Mitchell’s previous 1982 world record on Donkey Kong, August 17, 2000, and was the real King of Kong at the time of filming. Calvin Frampton, of Utah, set the real world record on Donkey Kong Kong Junior on September 20, 1983 and was still the reigning champion at the time Mitchell was making claims that he was the champion. But that’s a story for another day)
So when a cache of documents pertaining to the sale of Mitchell and other co star’s life rights to The King of Kong producers showed up online, I wasn’t surprised at all by the douchebaggery I found inside. In fact, I remember thinking, “It figures”.
Due to legal reasons, I don’t feel confident that I can publish the entire sets of documents without violating some weird copyright law, so you’ll have to take my word for it on what’s in the documents. There’s no ifs, ands or buts about this, though. Billy Mitchell and his closest buddies associated with the film conspired against one of the co stars out of greed and petty revenge in retaliation of him casting doubts on their legitimacy.
That person was Roy “Mr. Awesome” Shildt.
As one of the more amusing, out going and strangely charming characters in The King of Kong, pioneer Missile Command world champion, former body builder and former 1988 Playgirl centerfold, Roy “Mr. Awesome” Shildt, minced no words in 2006 telling the producers during the filming of King of Kong exactly what he thought of Billy Mitchell and Todd Rogers. He thought they were phonies. Interestingly enough, in 2018, both Mitchell and Rogers were outed as long-time cheaters and had their scores and themselves permanently banned from Twin Galaxies and Guinness Book of World records, indicating that back in 2006 Shildt/Mr. Awesome was onto to them long before anyone else was, and said so on camera:
But despite the fact that Shildt/Mr. Awesome brought a somewhat edgy-cool and Non-PC vibe to a documentary overflowing with rather awkward and uptight characters, Mitchell and his group of insecure lackeys didn’t find much value in him at all, inside or out of the film. In fact, it’s my belief that they stood in his way of not only continuing on as a Missile Command champion, but they even made it impossible for him to ever profit off his role in a documentary that he absolutely helped make a success. Of course, they had no problem taking the lion’s share of theirs.
In a contract demanding “first class flight and transportation”, money and tickets to Hollywood premiers, among other things, the document reads as what has to be one of the most back-stabbing and underhanded things I have ever seen: Mitchell and his immediate co stars, some that had only barely memorable roles in the film at best, negotiated to sell their life rights to the producers of The King of Kong for a feature film based off the documentary, but only if the producers agreed to ban Shildt/Mr. Awesome from being able to sell his life rights as well:
Repeat: Roy “Mr. Awesome” Shildt was essentially barred –behind his back, mind you, because this contract was kept secret– from ever financially benefiting from a film based on a documentary he helped make a success. In fact, his character in the documentary would disappear forever from any proceeding creative interpretations.
Producer agrees not to seek nor obtain the life rights of Roy Schildt (sic)of Missile Command fame for use in connection with the Picture or any other production produced hereunder, nor to depict Roy Schildt or a character based specifically upon Roy Schildt.
-Agreement #7 Document dated December 2006
As I have stated numerous times, and especially in regards to the firestorm that ensued after Billy Mitchell and Todd Rogers were uncovered as cheaters and duly punished, the investigation into them was never a “witch hunt” as Mitchell and his supporters referred to it, but the results of people sick and tired of being robbed of opportunities they’d rightfully earned. Whether it was Mitchell and Rogers cheating honest competitors out of world records, Twin Galaxies “old guard” fabricating history to up their own media value, or their supporters retaliating against whistle blowers, like Omnigamer, Apollo Legend, Tipster, Patrick Scott Patterson or myself, people had finally had enough. And now we find this gem of a screw-over?
What else don’t we know?
Who else did they secretly rear-end?
Now that Billy Mitchell has been stripped of his records by both Twin Galaxies and Guinness Book, will The King of Kong producers consider reinstating the character of Mr. Awesome back into the storyline to which he rightfully belongs?
The last time I saw Roy “Mr. Awesome” Shildt was at The 1Up, in Denver, Colorado, at The Kong Off 2013. I found him outside, standing on a corner, having traveled all the way from Los Angeles, uncertain if he would be allowed entry into the event. He was limping badly and had to use a cane. Years of dead-lifting as a body builder had left him with severe arthritis. He told me he’d heard that Billy Mitchell had him banned from the event. I told him that Billy Mitchell had no say whatsoever who comes in and out of that event, and I brought him in with me where he was immediately surrounded by fans. He posed for photos with people, had something to drink and played Missile Command. I watched while Billy Mitchell seethed silently to himself in a corner, looking like someone had just stole his entire universe, before quietly blending back into a crowd.
Some memories are destined to always shine bright.