SXSW Film: We Are Legion

Brian Knappenberger’s We Are Legion is the kind of Documentary that is so good, and so raw, that it feels like a fictional movie. Like how The King Of Kong was. You know? When Billy Mitchell shows up in his American flag shirt with that gorgeous mullet, too cowardice to actually face Steve Wiebe as he attempts to destroy Mitchell’s high score, or that one dude whose sole job in life is to watch VHS tapes of other people playing video games, or… aw screw it, basically like everything that happens in The King Of Kong. The sort of stuff that is too good to be true. Well that’s how We Are Legion is.

We Are Legion is a documentary about the controversial, and highly awesome group of hackers, or “hacktivists”, known simply as Anonymous. You’ve probably heard about them in the news for taking down major government websites and organizing countless other virtual sit-ins. And you’ve almost definitely seen them at your local Occupy movements, or in my case, often times protesting outside of the local Scientology headquarters on 39th street wearing Guy Fawkes masks (the mask from V For Vendetta). But what you probably DON’T know about Anonymous, or at least I certainly didn’t know, is that long before their days of war with Scientology and the Government, Anonymous was responsible, and somewhat still is, for virtually every famous internet meme, including Lolcats, and Rick Rolling people. Crazy, right?

That’s because in a nutshell, Anonymous all started from a site called, where people anonymously post random pictures, and create memes and such. There’s a section of the site called the “/b/ board” where essentially there are absolutely no rules, and people can post whatever they want with zero consequence. This is where Anonymous was initially created. Basically just a bunch of random dudes from all over the world, on this website, all got together and destroyed this super neo-nazi douchebag. He had a radio show, where he spouted all of his shitty racist views and stuff like that. So their first real mission was flooding his phones, finding out his address and sending mass quantities of pizza, escorts, and even large pallets of chemicals to his house, so that he’d be forced to pay for all of it, which eventually forced him to quit doing his show, as he literally was not able to fund it anymore because of this. SO AWESOME! But that was just the beginning.

As the documentary goes on, you witness the growth of the movement. Shortly after the radio take-down, the group found their next victim; The Church of Scientology. This, to me, was quite possibly my favorite part of the film. It was beyond fascinating to hear just how quickly, and wildly fast the movement was spreading at this point, and just how hard Anonymous hit the church. It was something that I enjoyed so much, that I legitimately don’t even want to spoil any of it, just in case you see this film. Ok, I guess for the sake of reviewing or whatever, I’ll spoil ONE thing. The Church was literally sending people to stalk members of Anonymous, to try to scare them away from continuing to harass it. Like, literally stalking. But all that really ended up doing was just making Anonymous fight even harder.

Another thing that We Are Legion was great at doing was exposing just how unfairly the government and certain corporations treat Anonymous and hacking in general. For instance, sites like Paypal, Amazon and many major Credit Card companies made it impossible for anyone to donate money to Wikileaks, yet made it widely accessible to donate to dozens of Neo-Nazi organizations, as well as The Westboro Baptist Church. You could easily donate to hate crimes and racism, but couldn’t donate to a group dedicated to exposing the truth, by simply leaking legal documents. Also, the average amount of time spent in jail for a convicted Pedophile is about 10 years, as the average amount of time for someone caught hacking? 15 years. Yes, you read that correctly. It’s un-freaking-real.

We Are Legion exists at the exact moment in time that it needs to exist. Our generation not only needs this documentary as an official photograph of this important movement, but as a way to get that message out to people who may not actually know anything about Anonymous. This is an absolute must see film. Do whatever you can to see it. So now I’ll leave you with the movement’s personal motto: “We are anonymous. We are legion. We do not forgive. We do not forget. Expect us.” Expect them, indeed.


I give We Are Legion 5 “Guy Fawkes masks” out of 5!

By Richard Pepper

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