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
I think Stickler's documentary, "Stoked: The Rise and Fall of Gator" gave us an interesting look at the character of Mark Anthony Rogowski through the comments of those who knew him. It was as objective as it could have been. It certainly didn't glorify him as the demigod he seemed to think he was during the peak of his career. I learned a lot from this movie about the skateboarding culture and how it affected the participants and the fans. There was a lot of hype given to Gator's abilities and personality during the 80's. As talented as he may have been, I'm sure there were other skaters just as talented who were not being promoted with the same enthusiasm. It was clearly Gator's reckless regard for his own well being that put him in the limelight in the first place. Would Stickler or any other director in the industry have wanted to do a documentary on this troubled youth if he hadn't turned his fame into notoriety by brutally raping and murdering an innocent young lady who had the misfortune of crossing his path? It gives one cause for pause. I think it's sad that the victim, Jessica Bergsten, like most other victims of violent crimes, became nothing more than a segment of Gator's seedy past. It's almost as if Jessica's death was merely a springboard to more publicity for Gator, long after he deserved it. He even said it himself over the phone from prison in this documentary: "Since 1991 I thought about this over and over...They say the past does not define the future but it'll always be a part of who I am. I know that." Not that he'll regret for the rest of his life killing someone who was no threat to him, but that it tainted his reputation permanently. He'll never be able to live it down. In his mind, it's still about Gator, even after ten years in prison. He hasn't changed his perspective at all. Chilling! It was a story worth telling, and my praises to Helen Stickler and everyone who had a hand in this production for telling it.
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