Breaking Down “Expect Us” by Anonymous

by Paddy Johnson on December 20, 2010 · 4 comments Opinion

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The new Anonymous video, dubbed “Expect Us”, could use a little editing. Driven by the belief that Internet access is a basic human right, the spot presumably means to tell the public that there are more denial-of-service attacks brewing than just the ones against identified anti-Wikileaks corporations Paypal, Visa, and Mastercard. Just who are the targets? Anonymous doesn't say, but they offer an array of offenders ranging anywhere from President Abraham Lincoln to Boxxy, the Internet personality responsible for sparking the civil war that briefly took down 4chan in January 2009.

This post offers a bit of visual criticism for the piece though frankly, there's not much to say that readers can't see for themselves. It's not like this is a stunning work of cohesive thought.

Set against a black background, white text read by a female voice begins. “Your secrets keep me peaceful. Your lies keep me safe. You are satisfied with my ignorance.

And you are in control”. This is conspiracy theory hyperbole, but the point's an easy enough read: Corrupt governments around the world are keeping Internet users down. Until now, that is. The script continues. “But we are aware. We are Anonymous. We do not forgive. And we do not forget”.

This is pretty ominous stuff, and the crescendo of music building at the end re-enforces the tone, even if it doesn't clarify the group's intentions. It's doubtful they even have any, since Anonymous works without central leadership. Instead they operate like some sort of rogue superhero — Batman if you will — working to spark change from outside the system, without feeling the need to answer to society. Needless to say, unlike typical activist videos, this does one not call for volunteers.

Then there's the sequence of about 50 low contrast black and white images as the words “And we do not forget” are uttered. The antiquing technique lends an air of grim history to all the images whether or not they warrant it. Subject matter includes the Holocaust and the Bataan Death March, but also members of Anonymous wearing Guy Fawkes masks at the 2008 Scientology protests. Leaving no absurd “similarity” untouched, a Nazi sign, three Democratic and Republican presidents and Boxxy also make an appearance.  No narrative thread is discernible.

In art or experimental film this might be okay, but activism requires a more direct message. As such, this video imparts only a lack of developed thought about the subjects the group claims to care about. That's a pretty big gap in responsibility for people adopting a mantle of moral superiority.


Starflyer2012 December 21, 2010 at 4:28 pm

How would you make it better?

Judith Braun December 21, 2010 at 5:40 pm

Aside from this specific video, it seems clear since the wikileaks events that the next realm of “warfare” on the planet will be technologically based, internet information/ disinformation and infrastructure. It’s pretty overwhelming and frightening to even contemplate because the truth will be so difficult to discern. It seems like it’s going to get much more complicated, not less.

Johnanonrayban April 2, 2011 at 2:04 am

I think its perfect

Creator of the Video April 3, 2011 at 2:01 pm

You also forgot about that last image of Julian Assange

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