director Helen Stickler
viewed: 02/ 10/2013
I’ve been running into an odd problem of late in which I’ve found a very good article about a subject much, much better than an eventual, if acclaimed documentary. In this case, the story of Mark “Gator” Rogowski, skateboard star of the earliest age of skateboarding, who ended up raping and murdering a woman…after finding God. The article I read was from the Village Voice from 1992, and quite frankly, is a much more compelling narrative. Stoked does add that element that only film/video can, the actual person speaking, showing his skating, seeing the faces and hearing the voices of interviewees. That said, I’ve become quite a fan of “long form journalism” of late. And I recommend the article.
The film does focus on the rise of “Gator” and the rise of professional skateboarding, which adds some context that would have been difficult when the article was written in 1992. It’s been the subject of other films, too, most notably for me Dogtown and Z-Boys (2001) which was made by Stacy Peralta and has stuck with me many years since. Professional skating was hardly a thing until the mid 1980’s when suddenly a bunch of non-conformist dudes who spent their days hunting for empty pools to skate or ramps to fly high on were given lots of money, fans, and ultimately girls. Rock stars minus guitars, when nothing like that before could have been imagined.
It’s not surprising that some of them fell flat. Fame and fortune have had horrible effects on people before, especially those not ready to deal with it.
Gator’s story is pretty compelling. I’d recommend reading the article and if you’re interested enough to know more, the film is worth seeing.