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Hacking has never been this cool since Jesse Eisenberg was coding to the sounds of Nine Inch Nails!

So this is a documentary about the amorphous hacktivist group Anonymous. Interviewing a range of members, associates, and observers, the film looks at the group’s origins on 4Chan message boards and how it evolved into the doomy youtube video producing crazies we know and love today. From attacking the Church of Scientology to helping restore internet during the darkest periods of Egyptian protest, Anonymous has been very active over the last several years, and the film does a decent job of presenting how members perceived those times. It should come as no surprise, then, that We Are Legion is highly sympathetic to the Anonymous movement.

Even as we’re aware of that bias, it’s difficult not to get swept up in the pathos of the documentary, though. Knappenberger uses music to his advantage, and does right to spend most of his time with the most likeable, sympathetic people in the movement. It reminds me very much of how I felt during Barack Obama’s nomination campaign, when I saw people getting swept up by the emotive speeches and widespread optimism; I thought, “it would be so easy to get caught up in this right now, and I want to, but something is holding me back.” Perhaps my gripe is with sexy rhetoric. The actual agents of Anonymous have made actions towards which I am entirely sympathetic. It’s the angry young teenagers saying “We are legion. We don’t forgive. We don’t forget. Expect us.” that bother me. Their rage doesn’t. The easy identification with the words, that does. It’s the revenge motif. It’s too Hollywood, as written by Frank Miller.

I hope I am too unimportant to actually draw any flak for this, but in the spirit of information liberty and the freedom of speech, there it is: this is an interesting film that tries to persuade you to the Anonymous cause, and while I think I have much in common with many of the active participants in that movement, I still have mixed feelings. For that reason, I say watch the film. Just keep the lights on and turn off your subwoofer. Put the sound in mono if you can. And be in your pajamas eating something you love that makes you feel like a fatty. (For me it was bacon-flavored Bugles and cookes.) That should help temper the idealism. If that doesn’t check your urge to join the movement, well then I think you should go ahead and join up.

Now can you please go after Goldman Sachs rather than the lightweights?

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