Document This!

Hi. My name’s Matthew. And I have a problem.

So… I’m on a documentary fix lately. I’ll watch a documentary about almost anything it seems (thanks for its own category, Netflix!). Here’s what I’ve seen recently:

  • Exit Through The Gift Shop
  • The King of Kong
  • This Film Is Not Yet Rated
  • More Than A Game
  • American Swing
  • WalMart: The High Cost of Low Price

And my take on them…

I’ve already mentioned Exit Through The Gift Shop. Check here for my thoughts & observations.

The King of Kong is a documentary about the Donkey Kong arcade game and the competitive gaming culture surrounding it, the world record score in game, and the main players in the scene. Billy Mitchell set the world record in 1982 and it stood for 20+ years. Steve Wiebe was laid off from Boeing, picked up Donkey Kong as a way to pass time, and eventually challenged Mitchell for the record. Very cool story! Not only because I’m a huge fan of video games but you see what kind of personalities exist in that sort of scene. It’s crazy to see how serious Mitchell took the challenge and the mind games he tried playing since his claim to fame was threatened by someone new.

This Film Is Not Yet Rated is about exposing the MPAA – the organization that assigns ratings to films. The “raters” are nine individuals who are always kept anonymous for “safety” reasons according to the MPAA. The director points out the discrepancies between ratings handed out to independent films vs. films released by the big movie houses (Paramount, Sony, Warner Brothers, etc), as well as the lack of transparency in the organization that essentially has a monopoly on the ratings system. Through a private investigator, the names of the raters, as well as the appeals board (all players in the movie industry, whether they be CEOs or other high ranking employees of theatres and movie production companies), are made public in the film. Then the rest of the movie is watching them squirm after the director submits the film for a rating (NC-17 is what he’s given, of course).

More Than A Game is about four (eventually five) basketball players who grow up playing with each other from elementary school through high school in Akron, Ohio. One of the players just happens to be LeBron James. I’m sure the story’s similar in towns all across the country where a group of guys grow up playing basketball together and it eventually keeps them off the street and out of trouble while generating a life-long bond. Most of the stories just don’t wind up with a player of LeBrown’s caliber fueling the fire. It was crazy to see the hype and chaos his status created for their senior year in high school. It makes you wonder how out of hand the whole recruiting thing is when these kids are huge celebrities before they’re 18 years old (Take no note of the irony that is my last post about football recruiting).

Author’s note – Skip the next review if you’re reading with kids. Unless you want me to give your kid “that talk” through a movie outline 😉

American Swing documents the rise, peak, and eventual decline of Plato’s Retreat in New York City and heterosexual couples swinging in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Let’s just say there were definitely some open people willing to be interviewed. And plenty of footage & pictures from the club. While watching it, it was pretty weird to think that something like sex could go from that open (albeit still scandalous) in 1977 to so incredibly taboo in the early to mid 1980s. Ignorance probably fueled it a good bit early on. The onslaught of information about AIDS (correct or incorrect) essentially killed the club in addition to drugs and prostitution accusations. Just an interesting story.

WalMart: The High Cost Of Low Price borderline infuriated me. Of course, the movie starts out in Small Town, America talking to “Mom & Pop”-style shops who had been shut down by a WalMart moving into the area. I completely disagree with people complaining WalMart shuts down local business seeing as how the entire point of the private industry is to provide people with a service they need and grow your business. If Mom’s Grocery was shut down because Pop’s Grocery came in and did a better business, would there be the same outcry? Doubt it but it’s the same concept. Then they harped on WalMart “abusing” its employees by making the health care plans too expensive. Not to turn this into a political piece but given the last year, it makes me mad for people to feel that having health care is some universal right that should be granted to all human beings. If you go work for WalMart (or any other company) for $8 or $10 an hour, don’t whine when you can’t afford health care. It’s a luxury, not a right. And before ending with two communities who prevented WalMart from moving in (Chandler, Arizona & Inglewood, California), they talked about how little wages WalMart pays their workers overseas in the factories. Everyone keeps throwing figures around with an American-mindset: Chinese workers only get paid $3 a day, Bangladesh employees work 14 hour days, etc. Yes, $3 a day is horrible if you’re paid that in America but does anyone ever compare that to the local economy instead of just assuming everyone should be like America? Not that I think WalMart is the best company in the world or that they can’t improve themselves but the rhetoric people use when slamming them is so anti-business (not big-business…business in general) it’s not even funny. I also thoroughly enjoyed seeing Clemson, South Carolina listed as a community who blocked WalMart from coming in… yet knowing WalMart built a Supercenter in Central, SC (all of 5 miles away) that all of the college students use anyways. They, for some reason, don’t list the second part of that last sentence though.

Can you tell I have an MBA and completely back the private business sector yet? 🙂 Enough of that rant!

So in the last few days, I’ve learned something about everything from sex clubs to video games and basketball to capitalism. I told you that I just enjoy learning new things! Believe me yet? National Geographic has some documentaries on there about some of the national parks (Yellowstone, Yosemite, etc) that I’ll probably get around to watching at some point. They boast that they show a side to the parks tourists can’t see. So it’ll be interesting seeing that, given the fact that I’ve been to some of the parks.

Other than that, my weekend of puppy-sitting is drawing to a close. My mom and step dad should be home in a few hours. And we’re all gearing up to meet a group of people at Hooters tonight for the Super Bowl. Go Packers (not that I have a dog in the fight…I’d just rather see Pittsburgh lose)! Should be a good time!

Hope everyone enjoyed their weekend.

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One Response to Document This!

  1. RMJinAK says:

    Hi Matthew; did not get to talk with you this weekend, but has a long chat with Stephen. Anything new going on? Give me an update on Harper and you. Love, Daddy.

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