12 November 2014 | KnightsofNi11
In the age of piracy, SOPA, and net neutrality, this is a must see.
When a documentary can illicit tears of both anger and sadness, you know it must be doing something right. Such is the case with The Internet's Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz. Aaron Swartz was one of the co-founders of the internet's so called front page; Reddit. He was also one of the most outspoken and inspired activists fighting to keep the internet free, protecting the rights and privileges of the American people whose government was trying tirelessly to censor the free speech granted by the web. Tragically, he took his own life at the age of 26 due to the constant pressures and endless scrutiny and indictment placed onto him by the American government. This film chronicles his tragically short life and attempts to put Aaron's name out there for the sake of carrying on his legacy. There aren't a whole lot of documentaries or films in general out there that I would say it is crucial that you watch. However, The Internet's Own Boy is one of these films. It pulls back the curtain on one of the most significant and relevant issues of our modern era, which is fighting censorship and maintaining the ability to access and attain the necessities the internet grants us. For instance the film starts out by showing us Swartz's many hacking campaigns where he would obtain legal and court documents from the American courts that one would otherwise have to unfairly pay for, and making it free to the public. It shows Aaron's fight for people's right to information, something the government seems to be stopping at nothing to revoke. It's truly sickening to see the things that Aaron, his friends, and his colleagues are put through in their fight for such a just cause. There are parts of this film that are absolutely infuriating, and there are parts that inspire as much as the other moments enrage. The victorious battle against the SOPA bill, for instance, highlights one great victory that shows off the American people's ability to make change happen, and fight back against what they know is wrong. This film shows what civil disobedience, protest, and the aptly coined term "hacktivism" are capable of, but it also shows the ignorant unfairness of what the government is capable of as well. Hence the frustration. It highlights the absurd idiocracy of a system stuck in the past, one that literally bases its bylaws off of The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act written in the 1980's when computers were a brand new idea and the endless scope of the internet wasn't even a conceived notion yet. The Internet's Own Boy strikes at a lot of issues that so easily get swept under the rug, and urges all of its viewers to be conscious of our rights and whether or not they are being stripped from us, because it can happen right under our noses. It concedes to us that we can't settle for unfair censorship and we must continue to fight back against a system that wants to tie our hands behind our backs and put duct tape over our mouths. Yes, the story of Aaron Swartz is a very sad one, and the film strikes emotional chords that give a beautiful amount of weight to the story being told. But the goal of The Internet's Own Boy is not to sour our moods with the tragic story of one of the 21st century's greatest minds. It is to raise awareness of this war against censorship; a war that can and must be won. The relevance of the issue is too immediate and too vital to our free speech system to be ignored. If you use the internet, you must see The Internet's Own Boy, and you must help carry on Aaron Swartz's noble legacy.