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We Are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists

Movie Details

  • Genre: Documentary
  • Running Time: 89 min.
  • Director: Brian Knappenberger
  • Producer: Brian Knappenberger
  • Writer: Brian Knappenberger

In We Are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists, Brian Knappenberger's fascinating, incisive social history of the online network known as Anonymous, we witness an awakening within a nascent, online society with its own culture (with trolling its first art form), language ("lulz" and "moralfag" being two coinages), value system (freedom of expression and information above all), and sense of identity (where anonymity is claimed as a collective sensibility, political position, and moral imperative). Having aspired only to the expression of unmitigated id, its members began to discover and develop their power to effect significant change. Protest and prank have always been close relatives, as Knappenberger points out, and certainly there is a spectrum of interpretation when it comes to seventh-circle portals like 4chan, which is described here as "the sum of human imagination." How the denizens of 4chan moved from disrupting Second Life games for lulz to taking on the Church of Scientology is the central hinge of Knappenberger’s story. Appropriately enough, it started with a video, that Tom Cruise barn burner circa January 2008, which Scientology HQ worked swiftly to wipe from the face of the Web. It was the audacity of that eradication that caught the attention of the 4chaners who became known as Anonymous. "Expect us," they say, though the meaning of that warning remains in flux; the evolution toward a consistency of ideals has proved as tricky as Knappenberger makes it engrossing and essential to watch.

Michelle Orange

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