Slash Film

“The New Americans: Gaming a Revolution” takes a look at the rise of the retail trader in the stock market, the gamification of finances, and how online communities like the WallStreetBets subreddit have taken to disrupt a system that has kept regular people at arm’s length and in the dark for too long. Taking a meme-ified approach to match the very meme-like subject matter, the documentary is filled with actual memes, talks of going to the moon and diamond hands, and some cool animated virtual reality footage that shows the new ways to connect in this extremely online era.

The problem is that the film doesn’t interrogate a single one of its themes, but takes a rather shallow, superficial, and rushed approach, drawing connections between events while not providing much more than two dates close together and arguing one caused the other.

The documentary comes from director Ondi Timoner, best known for her Sundance Grand Jury Prize award-winning film, “We Live in Public,” about the loss of privacy in the internet age. Timoner’s latest acts like a spiritual follow-up to “We Live in Public,” recounting how the internet has affected society in the years since. Rather than privacy, the new angle is the rise of social media to bring all sorts of people together, and the gamification of the stock market fueled by rage and a feeling of betrayal in the aftermath of the 2008 market crash. More specifically, “The New Americans: Gaming a Revolution,” tells the story of the rise of WallStreetBets, of TikTok stock analysts, crypto, and all the ways the stock market has become democratized over the past decade and asks if it really has been a force of good.

To The Moon!

The best thing Timoner does with the documentary is using the same language that drives its story: memes. From constantly cutting to clips from “Wolf of Wall Street” while images of rocketships, apes, and diamonds fill the screen, to TikToks, and more. This makes for a rather entertaining documentary that does manage to explain a rather complex topic — the stock market — in layman’s terms, without the need for Margot Robbie in a bathtub. 

At its best, the film documents the 2021 GameStop stock squeeze, in which online retail traders successfully drove the stock price of the popular game store to increase nearly 30 times, and caused hedge funds to lose an incredible amount of money. The film explains how it happened, why, and also illustrates how much of a joke that “movement” really was, using their own meme language to prove it.

The problem is that Timoner doesn’t really do much with the documentary. Sure, she has plenty of interview footage with the likes of Anthony Scaramucci, Jordan Belfort, and more, and she does draw a connection between the GameStop stonks and the January 6th attempted coup, but doesn’t do much to show why those would be connected beyond just saying the internet can bring people together.

Likewise, the film attempts to paint the rise of crypto and NFTs as some sort of revolutionary act of defiance against the financial system, a platform for good that democratizes things and remains open when banks aren’t available, but fails to interrogate their effect on the environment or their fraudulent aspects.

This is an entertaining film about a timely topic, but one that is just as insightful as the memes that fuel the story.

/Film Rating: 6 out of 10

Read this next: 14 Remakes That Are Better Than The Original

The post The New Americans: Gaming a Revolution Review: A Meme-ified Look at the State of Wall Street [SXSW 2023] appeared first on /Film.

/Film – The New Americans: Gaming A Revolution Review: A Meme-Ified Look At The State Of Wall Street [SXSW 2023]
Author: Rafael Motamayor
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March 14, 2023

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