We Are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists
USA, 2012, 95 Minute Running Time
Genre/Subjects: Documentary, Social Issues
Brian Knappenberger’s documentary traces the rise of Anonymous, an army of computer hackers who wage a battle for free speech in the digital age. The film takes the uninitiated through a quick course in the viral gyrations created by people now known as hacktivists. Fast-paced, informative, and entertaining, the film covers the evolution of Anonymous from fairly benign roots to a radical stand against the U.S. government and targeted corporations.
It all began with a bunch of geeks at M.I.T. who reveled in performing Internet pranks. Others followed suit with an “anything goes” attitude. They created websites with no boundaries; the grotesque, repulsive, and disgusting all welcome. When a group of these hackers worked together to punk a racist radio talk-show host and get him removed from the air, they realized the depth of their own power. Anonymous decided to take on bigger targets, including Scientology, MasterCard, and the U.S. government. Hiding their identities behind Guy Fawkes masks, members of the group practice civil disobedience in public as well as on computer screens. Supporters of the Occupy movement, many participate in demonstrations around the country. Sixteen Anonymous members have been arrested and face felony charges for hacking. We Are Legion debates whether the punishment will be proportionate to the crime.
To tell his story, Knappenberger interviews major online figures including members of the early hacktivist group Cult of the Dead Cow, and Christopher Poole, founder of the imageboard web site 4chan. We meet a number of enthusiastic Anonymous members, both past and present. One young woman refuses to be daunted by the federal charges filed against her. In some cases, not surprisingly, those featured on screen chose to remain anonymous.
- JOEY PORCELLI
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DIRECTOR: Brian Knappenberger
Producer: Brian Knappenberger
Editor: Andy Robertson
Screenwriter: Brian Knappenberger
Cinematographer: Lincoln Else, Dan Krauss, Scott Sinkler