A documentary chronicling the rise of the hacktivist collective Anonymous has premiered at SXSW in Austin, Texas.
The film – titled “We Are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists” – is directed by Brian Knappenberger and features commentary by Gabriella Coleman, an anthropologist who researches hacktivism.
“I [do] think there are a ton of [Anonymous] supporters. Some supporters become participants, others remain fascinated spectators,” Coleman told Death and Taxes Magazine in a separate interview.
“The support has been wild and extensive, which we can see registered with the Guy Fawkes iconography spreading everywhere during OWS or earlier with the Paypal boycott day on Twitter. I think Anonymous has garnered a lot of attention, some of it negative but a lot of it quite positive.”
Coleman also emphasized that Anonymous could very well be considered a cultural phenomenon, and wasn’t at all limited to hacking.
“The technology activism in the Middle East. Operation Bart—most of which was not hacking, I think. The DDoS campaigns [defined as digital sit-ins by Anonymous members]. The videos, the artwork, the manifestoes, the Anonymous solidarity network. You can go on and on and on.
“There are so many different campaigns and actions within Anonymous that have nothing to do with the hacking, but because hacking commands so much power in our society, there’s just a spotlight that gets focused in on it. It adds a dose of thrill and mystery and excitement. There power comes from that.”
Meanwhile, DJ Pangburn of Death and Taxes noted that “We Are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists” could help to clear up some of the “distortion” about the collective from politicians and their benefactors on Wall Street.
“If governments were more open with their people and didn’t act irresponsibly, or weren’t so easily and efficiently corrupted by business interests, then the hacking would not be necessary. If a man is bound against his will, he is liable to gnash his teeth at his captor—so it is with Anonymous,” Pangburn opined.
“As with any power structure, though, its power is to be preserved not through its integrity, but in how well it can distort the atmosphere of dissident opinion and action, and feed the lies to the masses. It should [therefore] come as no surprise then that the US government is attempting to define Anonymous as ‘terrorists.'”