A Movie Making Nerd by James Rolfe – Review

After twenty years, we finally get to read James Rolfe’s autobiography. He’s been hyping this thing for ages. He just couldn’t find a publisher. So in the end, he published it himself.

It quickly becomes obvious why nobody wanted to publish this thing. It’s boring, it’s poorly-structured, and it’s clearly written by somebody who’s mentally challenged.

The first 55% of the book is about James’ childhood through to graduating college. That’s a lot of pages to devote to your youth.

He talks about going to special education. He would throw fits and literally urinate on himself. He says that he doesn’t remember this. So he saw a psychiatrist or something who diagnosed him with attention deficit disorder. Well, people don’t go to special education just for that. So he also says that he basically failed the third grade.

So it’s not merely that he had ADD, like so many people like to claim. He was academically…not good. Like…to the point where he had to go to special education.

There are maybe seven pages on his time in special education. This was the only interesting part of the book. I would have liked to hear more about this.

But he just moves on. He transferred to a normal high school in the 10th grade. It’s not explained why. He’s afraid that he might get bullied because people knew that he went to special education but it’s never explored whether or not he was bullied.

He graduates and he goes to college. He spends FORTY PAGES on freshman year. The book is 300 pages. So a huge chunk is devoted to his freshman year of college.

What happened in freshman year that was so interesting? Nothing. James had some roommates who liked to party but James is at pains to tell you that he didn’t do shit. He just observed all of this youthful craziness. Drug and alcohol abuse, throwing stuff out the window, trashing their dorm room. All of this stuff happened. But James wasn’t involved. He just watched it and filmed it.

Then his “film” found its way to some dean at the school. James was in the film but he was just “in character” during his interview segment. He was just pretending that he was involved in this hedonistic behaviour. Because in actuality, he didn’t do shit. And I believe him. This man is afraid of his own shadow. He doesn’t like doing things. He doesn’t take risks. And he’s absolutely petrified of authority figures.

So the dean finds the video and expels everyone who appeared in the video. James appeals the decision and it’s reduced to a one year suspension.

But all of the other people who appeared in the video, except for James and one other person, all got expelled. And James shows absolutely no remorse for this, in spite of the fact that it was his video that got them expelled.

He says that he later met one of the people who got expelled who said something like, “Well, I didn’t want to go to that college anyway” and this a big relief to James. Even though the guy was clearly just saying that to try to make himself feel better about what happened.

Forty pages of this.

James did some student films. Also, during his childhood he names some “films” that he made with the neighbourhood kids. None of this is interesting.

There were brief references to James meeting Kyle, Bootsy, and Mike while in college. No stories about them hanging out or doing anything crazy because James didn’t fucking do anything. Ever.

Then he graduated. Then he briefly worked in a liquor store before getting a job as an editor. He did that for a short while and then did another editing job. Then he got married.

These jobs don’t seem that bad. They’re directly related to what he was studying. How many people can say that? Most people go to college, they study sociology or whatever, and then they get a job at Jiffy Lube. But James was in the fortunate position to get jobs that were directly related to his degree. But he didn’t like the jobs.

So while he’s working, he’s also continuing to make “films” in his spare time. And one day, when he was bored, he dressed up like a nerd and made a video about Castlevania. He shared the video with Mike and Kyle or somebody and…that’s it. There’s no real explanation of how things progressed. Mike isn’t credited for encouraging James to continue with this series. It’s just nothing.

Then we should be talking about the Angry Video Game Nerd series of Youtube videos, right? This is what James is most well-known for. By far. But we don’t get that. He completely glosses over the thing that he’s most well-known for.

This could have been its own fucking book. He could have done like an episode guide. Talk about each episode of AVGN. What the creative process was like, what it was like to film it, who was in the video, how did he like the video, whatever. He can even give a star rating to each video. James enjoys giving ratings to his own “films”.

No. There was none of this. It was just, “I was working, then I did some AVGN stuff, and now here are 30 pages about The AVGN Movie.” It’s a completely bizarre decision.

So then he talks about the movie. Things are really dragging at this point.

Then he had children. This is the last part of the book and another absolutely baffling decision. He goes into nauseating detail about all of the medical procedures that took place during this difficult pregnancy. He talks about all of the injuries and blood and various bodily fluids that he witnessed. What will particularly haunt me is he talks about his daughter defecating in his wife during labour. This is something that could have been fatal, as he points out, but knowing that James Rolfe has a scat fetish, it’s completely disgusting. He’s getting off on this. Why is any of this in the book anyway? It goes on for like eight pages, all of the horrible, disgusting stuff surrounding the birth of his two children.

He talked more about his wife’s difficulty pregnancies than he did AVGN.

Then the book ends with three glorious pages about Rex Viper.

Now let’s talk about what he didn’t mention. First, The Angry Video Game series of videos. I’ve mentioned that already.

There was no mention of Bootsy or Kyle or Kevin Finn departing. In fact, none of these people were mentioned hardly at all. There was just confirmation that they existed.

Mike gets no credit for his role in AVGN. Of course, AVGN is barely mentioned so I suppose that’s a factor. But all James says is that Mike appeared in some AVGN videos, he did the title cards, and he was hired to edit the videos. That’s it.

But we know that Mike wrote a lot of the episodes. I suspect that Mike had a huge role in the success of AVGN. None of this is discussed. James takes 100% of the credit for the success of AVGN.

There’s almost no mention of Screenwave. Tony, Justin, and Kieran don’t even get acknowledged by name. James just says that he hired Screenwave to “help”. And James is at pains to say that he’s the boss. He’s in charge. It’s all James.

No discussion about the obvious decline in quality of the videos after Screenwave got involved.

The book is only interesting in the sense that it confirms James’ massive narcissism as well as his mental disabilities.

Throughout the book, he expresses irrational fears of authority figures, in particular the police. He talks about not wanting to drink alcohol while in college because he was under 21, for example, and it’s illegal. He talks about how his boss smoked and he didn’t like this because it’s illegal to smoke indoors. He was terrified when a police helicopter shone a light on his filming location for the AVGN movie. Shit like this. I suspect that his fear of authority figures is connected to him being mentally challenged.

He talks about his “films” in glowing terms. He’ll show them at a college film exhibition and just absolutely everybody loves them. He literally uses terms like people were “pumping their fist” and “standing on their chairs”. And he’s talking about “films” like, It Came from the Toilet, which is about “a shit monster who shits on people”.

An amusing anecdote is that he played Lenny in Of Mice and Men for some college production. Lenny, of course, is the retarded man in the book. But again, everybody loved James’ performance.

He’d show his “films” to women who he was trying to woo and it would cause them to sit on his lap and engage in amorous behaviour.

Everybody loved the AVGN Movie. This is what he saw at the screenings. It was a “crowd pleaser”. He completely discounts the overriding consensus of the internet that the film was a piece of shit. He basically says that these are just a just a handful of “haters” who are jealous of him.

There’s an interesting book somewhere in James Rolfe’s life. As dull as his life is. But this isn’t it.

This is a man who is mentally retarded and with the great assistance of other people (his parents, Mike Matei, Screenwave) he was able to achieve something rather impressive. There’s a large element of luck in his videos becoming popular on Youtube but he was still putting the work in. If he wasn’t making the videos, none of this would have happened.

With the possible exception of the actor Chris Burke, James Rolfe might just be the most successful retarded person of modern times. I’m not taking anything away from him by saying this. I’m not trying to be insulting. It’s just reality.

But James Rolfe seems to lack the insight to understand his limitations and how much help he’s received from other people. So he attributes all of his success solely to himself. And anyone who doesn’t like any of his work, for any reason, is a “hater”. Everything that he has done is a masterpiece.

I’m reminded of the playground brainteaser that we would sometimes explore, “Do retarded people know that they’re retarded?” If James Rolfe is any guide, the answer is “no.”

The book is poorly written. Poorly edited. How did this thing take 20 years to write? It’s like a school project from junior high.

But like everything else, I’m sure that James Rolfe thinks that the book is excellent and anyone who disagrees is a hater. It’s just a window into the mind of somebody who’s mentally challenged. I don’t wish bad things on James but he has people around him now who don’t seem to have his best interests at heart or they’re just incompetent.

Mike Matei was, apparently, excellent in concealing James Rolfe’s mental retardation and his extreme narcissism. I don’t think that Mike was doing this because he wanted to help his friend. I think that that Mike’s motivation was entirely financial. Mike was making a lot of money off of this retarded man.

But when Screenwave took over ass-wiping duties, we see what happens. They’re incompetent. So we get stuff like the podcast and his boring as fuck Youtube videos and now this autobiography that totally expose James. Mike would not let this stuff happen. Mike kept a tight leash on James. Only scripted stuff.

Now that James has no competent help, we see what a narcissistic retard James really is.

So in summary, if you’re a fan of James Rolfe, you can safely skip this one. But if you’re interested in a psychological study of what happens when a mentally challenged man receives constant praise throughout his life and effectively wins the lottery, maybe check it out.

1 thought on “A Movie Making Nerd by James Rolfe – Review

  1. His life story is geniunely interesting, but not in a way he could ever express or admit to.
    Maybe in 50 years there will be a comedy biopic based on him.

    It never dawned on me until recently, but I’ve had a small taste of what its like to be Mike Matei.
    I used to have a retarded friend that would routinely nag me about starting a band and “jamming”.
    Out of pity (and loneliness) I’d show up and he’d just noodle for an hour or so while I’d akwardly wait for him to stop.
    He lacked any listening skills, self awareness, or any capacity for development.
    Just play loud and fast! It didn’t matter that every single note was wrong and off time.
    He’d get pissy if I mentioned anything of this sort and say “I don’t need music theory, I play with feeling!”

    Eventually he would come up with an extremely derivative and sloppy metal riff, then I’d end up writing/recording a song built around the riff but heavily embellished with other layers and ideas.
    After the fact, he’d geniuely see the recording as “his” and that I was merely doing low level grunt work. (“Anybody can program a drum machine!”).
    I didn’t care much because the music sucked ass and I was only using it to practice song structure / production techniques.
    I always hoped I could be a positive influence and help him develop into a better musician, but eventually gave up.

    On occasion he’d talk about the “philosphy” / “theory” behind “his” songs to other retards (metal fans), only to regurgitate the sort of nonsense you hear a famous hack artist say in an interview, while oblivious to the actual structure and ideas I put into them.
    The way he’d speak about those recordings really reminds me of how James talks about his “films” — his own work is beyond him.
    I feel like countless musicians can relate to this sort of relationship, especially people that produce/record metal, or even worse, rap artists.
    In many ways James Rolphe is exactly like his hero Ozzy Osbourne — a talentless retard puppeted around by a jew wife while taking credit for other people’s hard work.

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