Thursday, November 1, 2012

Movie Review: We Are Legion

We Are Legion
Directed by: Brian Knappenberger.

Anonymous is an internet collective, with no leadership, that has become a force online. What started out on websites like 4chan, where a bunch of people posted strange, sick, deranged and often hilarious pictures in an attempt to one up each other, has turned into a very real movement – that is responsible for some good and some bad online. Because there is no real leadership, essentially anyone can be part of Anonymous, and they can do anything they want. Some people in the movement are, to put it bluntly, dicks – yet some are idealists, who are doing what they do for the right reasons, even if that means breaking the law.

We Are Legion is a fascinating documentary, perhaps a bit too slanted in favor of Anonymous, but mostly plays fair, that tracks this organization’s development from a group of people just trying to amuse themselves, to a group who sees themselves as a force for good. Whether it’s taking on racist radio talk show host, and essentially ruining his life (but who the hell is going to feel sorry for him), to going to all-out war with Scientology, when they tried to block Tom Cruise’s promotional video from being available online, to attacking Paypal, Visa and Mastercard when they stopped letting you donate to Wikileaks using those methods (although they apparently have no problem with you donating to the KKK that way) to helping those in Egypt during the protests still be able to get online and let the world know what was going on, you may not agree with everything Anonymous does, but for the most part, their hearts are in the right place – and they are willing to stand up for what they believe in. The assholes you thought Anonymous was getting too serious, and so hacked the epilepsy site to make it flash bright lights on and off though are just jerks. And the offshoot group LulzSec, who were not just targeting corporations, but harming innocent bystanders, are also near impossible to defend.

We Are Legion is hardly a great documentary, but it remains a fascinating and insightful one. Pinning down a group like Anonymous is pretty much impossible – they have no leadership, no official spokesperson, and many of them refuse to show their own faces or reveal their own identity, preferring instead to hide behind Guy Fawkes masks – in part to protect themselves from prosecution, and in part because they feel they are more powerful if they cannot be identified as individuals.

But what We Are Legion does do, better than anything else I’ve seen anyway, is show you how Anonymous became what it is today, and how it continues to evolve, fracture and move forward. With so much of our lives happening online now, cyber activism or hacktivism as they call it will only grow in the coming years. What form that takes is anyone’s guess, but it is important to show how it got this far.

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