Released: 18th May
Seen: 25th August
For those who don’t know, Gamestop is a US-based company that specialises in brick-and-mortar stores that sell video games and gaming-related paraphernalia. There are subsidiary companies in other countries (EB Games, Thinkgeek, Etc) but the core business is these stores that used to do truly incredible business… until about 2016. That was roughly the time that gaming finally did what film and music had been doing for a while and moved mostly to online retail. That move triggered a domino effect that suggested that Gamestop was going to go the way of Blockbuster, just a matter of time before it would be a set of empty stores that no one visited anymore. This status as a dying store caused the Gamestop stock to hover under 5 bucks a share, and that is how the insane story of the Gamestop short squeeze began.
Diamond Hands: The Legend of WallStreetBets is a documentary that details one of the wildest moments of internet nihilism that we’ve seen in recent years. During the height of the pandemic, a group of people on a Reddit board invest in Wall Street using an app called RobinHood and end up focusing their energy on Gamestop stock. Turns out that Gamestop has been short-sold at 140% of available shares, enough that if the stock went up it would be disastrous to a ton of hedge fund companies… so this Reddit board worked together and started sending that stock up and what followed was one of the most incredible demonstrations of people power that the stock market has ever seen.
Using a series of interviews with some of the Reddit users who took part in the squeeze, along with at least one hedge fund manager who lost a shit ton of money, Diamond Hands: The Legend of WallStreetBets portrays the David and Goliath story of the stock market in hilarious detail. Since the actual stock squeeze itself was rooted in internet culture, that style of humour seeps into every pore of this film from details like the hyperactive use of emojis and strange meme editing to letting one of the interviewees hide their identity with a knight helmet. It moves at a wild lightning pace like your Reddit dashboard came to life right before your eyes and it’s a trip and a half. It’s also wildly appropriate to use this style for this story.
The story of WallStreetBets vs Wall Street is gloriously told during Diamond Hands: The Legend of WallStreetBets, letting the insane emotional rollercoaster just wash over you. The crushing weight of the pandemic leading to the nihilism that almost encouraged the buying of the stock, which in turn led to the euphoria of the eventual rise of the stock that could create millionaires out of people who were struggling, to the pure rage when RobinHood would do some (in my humble opinion) mild market manipulation to put this insanity down. It’s a wild trip and every detail of the journey is explored from the perspective of the people who went through it.
Diamond Hands: The Legend of WallStreetBets moves at a lightning speed and you better keep up because there is a lot to get through. It plays the story with the kind of hyperactive style that is common in online spaces, everything turned up to 11 and self-deprecating jokes galore. These are people who willingly admit they didn’t know a damn thing about investing before this and that excited energy just fills every frame of the film. It runs through the several months of insanity so fast but so effectively that it doesn’t feel like you missed anything, it’s all fairly well explored and so compellingly presented that it’s impossible not to get completely absorbed.
Diamond Hands: The Legend of WallStreetBets is a fascinating watch, the kind of insane economic story that we will probably never see again even though we should. It shows the people finally playing the game that the billionaires have been playing for years, and watches as the people play it better than anyone could’ve hoped. It’s energetic, frantic and explosively funny from start to finish, while also being a pointed critique of how the free market isn’t actually free. It’s one of those wild events you need to know about, the moment in time when the younger people finally realised what life had handed them and that it was time to shake shit up.