We Are Legion: Film Review

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“If you want to see Anonymous rise up, try to shut down the message.”

“You could argue that the most powerful people on Earth are a bunch of nameless, faceless 17 to 35 year olds.”

“It is both exhilarating . . . and terrifying.”

These are just some of the sweeping, inspiring, and simultaneously unnerving sentiments pronounced in the fascinating new documentary, We Are Legion, which chronicles the rise, successes, failures, and future of the internet community known only as “Anonymous”. For a group of (likely young) individuals whose primary aim is to disseminate information that exposes the corrupt ways of establishment regims, systems, and individuals, it is frequently ruthless, unmerciful, and exacting in producing the kind of uproar and change that it sees as vital to the very existence of a world that is at all aware of what is actually going on.

The community that calls itself “Anonymous” has played a major part in everything from the Arab Spring to the 47 Percent video that currently plagues the Romney presidential campaign, and filmmaker Brian Knappenberger has made a documentary that is truly impossible to ignore, no matter how you feel about the subject at hand. The most interesting part of the film for me was the series of interviews with the many “Anonymous” pioneers and “celebrities” that have helped take down the likes of the Church of Scientology and ultra conservative gadflies like Glenn Beck. If establishment power is your thing, Anonymous is your No. 1 enemy. You’ll likely be shocked and stunned by how ordinary and run-of-the-mill some of them seem when giving interviews; but then their very ordinariness is also what inspires the audience. The fact that anyone with an Ethernet chord and a lucky discovery can upend an entire society with a simple upload is the truest manifestation of democratic power the world has yet known.

Like the old saying goes, with incredible power come incredible responsibility. Will Anonymous always use its powers for good? Is corruption of such a force inevitable? The film doesn’t get to answer these lofty question, but it still makes for an amazing viewing experience that is much more jarring than anything even Loose Change or Zeitgeist could conjure.