STOKED tells the story of 80s skateboarding icon and convicted killer Mark "Gator" Rogowski. Spanning a decade from the early 80s to early 90s, STOKED is the fascinating character study of a young man's development, couched within the social and historical framework of skateboarding's biggest era. STOKED takes a trip to the 'in-your-face' era of 80s youth pop culture, exploring the mechanism of fame and its darker consequences in one man. A thoughtful and energetic look back at the apex of punk rock, neon jams, and the early days of MTV, the archival documentary follows skateboarding from its grass roots in Southern California backyards to an international phenomenon. Featuring skateboarding legends such as Tony Hawk, Stacy Peralta, Lance Mountain, Steve Caballero, and testimony from Mark "Gator" Rogowski from behind bars, STOKED dramatically reveals for the first time the factors leading to a hero's tragic fall from grace, and the unyielding spirit that allows skateboarding to ... Written by
Hello. My name is Mark Rogowski. And I am a recovering vert skater.
"Stoked" is a documentary about the rise and fall of Vision skate company's glory boy, Mark "Gator/Gravity" Rogowski/Anthony. When you could still keep track of the number of pro skaters in the mid and late 80s, Gator was counted as one of the best, matching ranks with Christian Hosoi and the Bones Brigade Team. For four years (it seems a lot longer), Mark Rogowski was on top of the world as the pinnacle of vert skating. He sure made Vision Street Wear plenty of money, and with his fall, so came the demise of his primary sponsor.
This documentary is less about skateboarding, although skate enthusiasts familiar with the cast of pro skaters, will probably enjoy it for several reasons. They know who Mark Rogowski is, and are probably familiar with the story. However, this story doesn't introduce much of anything new that had not been written about him in the past. The recounts are pretty much all the same in piecing together the story of the extreme rise and fall of a once-great skater.
The movie pans out more like an illustration, and perhaps a valid caution, of stories so common to celebrities of any field. When Rogowski and skaters like himself (most of whom--but not all of whom--didn't have such a destructive finale to their careers) couldn't make the transition into street skaters, the next wave of skateboarding that took over in the early 90s, they suddenly found themselves out of the spotlight. Whereas guys like Tony Hawk and Steve Caballero, and hell, even Tony Alva, were able to keep up with the transitions, and hang on tight to their super-stardom. Not Rogowski.
Like young superstars given all the attention and the money and fame, and then to have it all taken away for the next best thing (and the cycle repeats itself), Rogowski started out at a crucial developing point in his life--going pro when he was in high school and enduring much of the fame in his late teens and early twenties--and couldn't seem to adapt when the skateboarding audiences were taking interest in a new generation of skating. He got depressed, turned on to religion (too much), and then killed a girl.
I think to enjoy this movie, you would have to have some interest in Rogowski, as he was a pretty egotistical guy (and why not, his sponsors made him into god's gift to skateboarding). He seemed arrogant much of the time, and his days seemed like nothing but one big unimportant party. The image became so big, I'm not even sure if it was about skateboarding for him at one point. He was the badass of the sport, but it just seemed to be entirely show. Everything Rogowski did seemed to be one big show, and for that, a movie about him seems hollow and hardly interesting. Of all the stories of skateboaders, why is his the most interesting? I think much of Lance Mountain's interviews sums it up best. Speaking from experience as one who faded from the scene, Lance says that the whole thing is so phony. That they're given a false superstar/invincibility status as such a young age, and they're not taught how to cope with it when it's all over. At their age, they just assume it will last forever. And the way skateboarding always fluctuated in popularity, someone should've sense that it wasn't.
The movie sweeps across from being all the bruhaha about the wild Mark Rogowski, then eerily resembling an episode of 'Unsolved Mysteries' as California law enforcement involved in the case piece together the murder of a twenty-year old girl. Any appreciation for Mark as a skater seems lost in the tragedy . It's sad, but it's not sympathetic. I suppose the movie makes a useful caution to people desirous of the fame and fortune, especially at such a young age and with such an unpredictable medium (skateboarding). The movie leaves you with a cold feeling about it all, especially when following up with information about the fate of other fellow skaters from that time.
"Stoked" is probably a movie most appreciated by skaters familiar with the scene, but otherwise, Gator doesn't make a very sympathetic creature (not even to those who knew him). He was just another naive kid who thought the kick would last forever and wasn't sure what to do when it finally did. I wonder if they have made support groups for former young superstars.
8 of 11 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?