The Bye Bye Man
The Bye Bye Man is the kind of film that is so boring and bereft of anything of possible interest that it becomes infuriating.
“Can the government use hacking techniques to catch a criminal, and, if so, what kind of warrant do they need?”—Andy Greenberg, WIRED
It’s an important question that faces us in the second decade of the 21st century. How do we maintain the privacy that is so essential to our society when the internet allows for so many ways to destroy it? Alex Winter’s “Deep Web” could someday make an interesting companion piece to Laura Poitras’ award-winning “Citizenfour” in that both films are about men whose fates are intertwined with that conversation about privacy, legality and the gray area in between. Sadly, while Winter’s film, which debuts on Epix on May 31st, raises some interesting talking points, it doesn’t go much deeper than Greenberg’s question. Winter focuses so tightly on the details of his chosen story that he fails to place it in the context of overall issues of internet privacy, commerce and the drug war.
The title “Deep Web” refers to the underground portion of the internet that is significantly bigger than what most of you access on a daily basis. There were (and are) illegal things going on in the deep web, but it is also a place for political and controversial speech not allowed by all governments of the world. In other words, it’s important. It’s crucial to have places online that support privacy to a degree that corporations and dictatorships cannot interfere.
The lightning rod for the Deep Web’s emergence into the public sphere was Silk Road, a web service that facilitated the sale of highly illegal drugs. Managed by someone calling himself Dread Pirate Roberts (from “The Princess Bride”), Silk Road had arguably positive intentions. The ineffective war on drugs has killed thousands. Silk Road takes it out of the alleys and the dangerous neighborhoods and arguably makes it a safer business transaction, complete with a review process for drug dealers. Dread Pirate Roberts saw himself as a leader of a movement—less government control, destruction of the corrupt drug war. But was he a freedom fighter or a digital Tony Montana?