Sunday, July 23, 2017

New documentary on web outlaw Kim Dotcom

The martyrdom of Kim Dotcom | - Philip Mathews:

July 23, 2017 - " Controversial internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom is interviewed in his Auckland waterfront apartment in 2016. There is tasteful decor, natural light, sea views and directly behind the man himself, an upside down US flag on a cushion.

"Given that the US was into its fifth long year of trying to extradite Dotcom to face trial on copyright and other charges, that shot seems like one of Dotcom's famous provocations – in your face, Uncle Sam.... Annie Goldson​, director of the documentary Kim Dotcom: Caught in the Web, can't remember who art-directed the two-day interview, but thinks it was Dotcom himself....

"Detailed, neutral and at times sympathetic, Goldson's documentary started to take shape in 2014 when Dotcom, already a folk hero and political martyr in New Zealand after the raid on his Coatesville mansion in 2012, made the ill-judged decision to enter politics. Does anyone remember Internet Mana? The shaky alliance between the techno-radicals of Dotcom's Internet Party and Mana's old school socialists crashed into the 2014 election campaign like a runaway train.

"It climaxed at a political circus called the Moment of Truth. Dotcom flew investigative journalist Glenn Greenwald ​to Auckland and crossed live to free-speech heroes in hiding Julian Assange and Edward Snowden. Five days before the election, the Auckland Town Hall was packed with activists and journalists who expected this stunt to topple the Government....

"On election night in 2014, when it was clear Internet Mana had failed, Dotcom blamed himself and his toxic brand, and largely disappeared from public life. Now he is reclusive in his luxury pad, separated from his wife Mona (their story is a charming romantic interlude in the film). After two years of negotiations, Dotcom agreed to an interview and offered access to his archives, including home movies of family life in Coatesville before everything soured....

"[T]he biography that Goldson constructs suggests someone who always yearned to be famous. He played up the Dr. Evil role but long before he was even called Dotcom, the 20-year-old Kim Schmitz​ was turning up to a Munich nightclub in a flash white suit, posing as though he had already made it.... It was the classic Jay Gatsby​ myth, the self-invented phony. Even arrests were good for business – the notorious hacker could rebrand as a security consultant. In the background there was a tough childhood with a violent alcoholic father....

"There are good interviews in the film, shedding light on complex areas of freedom and copyright. Greenwald is there. The musician Moby is there. Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales is there. US technology journalist Greg Sandoval calls Dotcom 'a PR genius". Movie producer turned scholar Jonathan Taplin argues that 'he's a criminal ... he should be in jail'. 

"No one can agree on Dotcom and the film won't change that. It is not just his personal style that provokes strong opinions. Instead, as Goldson notes, there is something about these internet guys, 'these individuals' we have created.... Think of Dotcom and Assange and, more recently, Peter Thiel​. What do they have in common? They are transnational, mostly apolitical, loosely libertarian. They represent a different, more confusing world to come."

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