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Diamond Hands: The Legend of WallStreet Bets

SXSW: ‘Diamond Hands: The Legend of WallStreetBets’ shatters Reddit bro stereotypes

The film is organized chaos, spoken in the voice of the internet.

 

Grace Stanley

Internet Culture

Almost everyone has heard about the infamous subreddit r/WallStreetBets. For years, the community consulted each other on high-risk stock trades. They encouraged each other to have “diamond hands,” holding strong with risky stocks as their value rose and fell. And in January 2021, the rowdy Reddit users made headlines and angered elites as they banded together to dramatically inflate the GameStop stock. 

When you picture this dramatic event, what comes to mind? Foul-mouthed, ableist Reddit ‘bros’? Degenerate white guys typing away in their parents’ basement? 

The MSNBC-produced documentary film Diamond Hands: The Legend of WallStreetBets, which premiered at the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival, broke down these stereotypes and provided empathetic portraits of some of the unseen faces behind the GameStop craze: some who made millions, others who lost everything. 

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Diamond Hands: The Legend of WallStreetBets
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Release Date: April 10, 2022
Directors: Zachary Canepari, Drea Cooper
Streaming: Peacock
The documentary provides empathetic portraits of some of the unseen faces behind the GameStop craze.

The film is organized chaos, spoken through the voice of the internet. Personal interviews were woven together with emojis, memes, GIFs, rave music, and anonymous screen names.

“As filmmakers and artists and storytellers, we’re being tasked with this really heavy challenge of like, how do you tell a story that takes place online?” the film’s co-director Drea Cooper told the Daily Dot ahead of the premiere. 

“It’s people saying things they wouldn’t normally say in person. It’s these crazy stock plays that these guys are making and the way that they’re illustrating and talking about those plays. It’s the meme culture,” Zachary Canepari, another co-director, told the Daily Dot.

While the subculture of WallStreetBets has been scrutinized for its language and moral compass, it certainly did have an internal value system leading up to the GameStop spectacle. 

“While there is this cynicism and this nihilism, there’s still this very genuine push to survive and figure it out, to figure out how to navigate this system, regardless of how broken or manipulated it may seem,” Cooper told us. 

One subject of the film spoke powerfully about how the financial system has cheated her generation. Her name is Alicia Woods, and she actually met the directors as a waitress after overhearing them talk about cryptocurrency at dinner. She told them she has now invested heavily in crypto after losing money in the GameStop craze.

“You know, I mean, I think she really kind of wears the generational angst on her sleeve. Millennial and Gen Z folks are kind of fed up with what they see as the unfair system that we’re all trying to figure out how to navigate and they feel left behind in it,” Canepari told us. 

“I think that us millennials realized that we were sold a narrative that wasn’t ours. They spoon-fed it to us: Go to college. Work. Do this. You’ll have a great life,” Woods said in the film. “They put our asses in a debt system and then wonder why we’re not happy.” 

Another subject of the documentary, who went by the screenname @JeffAmazon, was the one who posted the thesis on how to send the GameStop stock soaring. By buying en-masse the then-low value GameStop stock, traders who bet on its failure would be forced to buy it in order to avoid losses, driving the price of the stock up further. Then, the members of the Reddit community could sell their stock while it was high and seriously cash in. 

JeffAmazon was right. He walked away with $8 million dollars after buying less than $50,000 in GameStop stocks. 

Not everyone was so lucky. After the price of the stock soared, the powers that be (investment app Robinhood) stopped people from buying the stock, plunging its value. 

Matt Kelly, a subject of the film who put all his savings in GameStop, waited too long to sell before the stock’s value fell. Another subject, Chris Garcia, was a young man with a baby on the way who did the same. They both lost everything. 

“The movement can only go so far. That’s just the way the system is built,” Canepari told us. 

While Diamond Hands: The Legend of WallStreetBets is at times cynical and chaotic, its compassionate and complex portrayal of the WallStreetBets community pulls the audience down to earth. It draws attention away from preconceived notions of Reddit bros and focuses on larger systemic issues of corporate greed and wealth inequality. 

Diamond Hands: The Legend of WallStreetBets premieres on Sunday, April 10 at 10 p.m. ET on MSNBC. It will also be available on Peacock.

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