"...a poorly constructed documentary."
GAMESTOP: RISE OF THE PLAYERS (2022)
THE "IMDB" PREMISE:
"The David-and-Goliath story about the group of amateur investors who bought stock in the failing video game chain, GameStop."
OUR [TO THE POINT] REVIEW:
GameStop: Rise of the Players is one of the worst video documentaries I have ever seen. Full stop.
Typically, when I watch a documentary, I want to learn something new. I want to see why a thing happened; I want to hear what decisions lead to something big occurring. The $GME short squeeze from early 2021 was a fascinating event, and the story of how a bunch of ordinary, everyday individuals came together to fight against the hedge funds that had been shorting its stock together fascinates me.
Part of this is heavily due to living through the event via Twitter; when $GME skyrocketed in value, it was all over the internet. Living in a post 2008 world has primed many people to want to fight back against the people that profited off the total collapse of the economy. Another part of my interest in this doc was because of Adam McKay’s fantastic film, The Big Short, which focused on the fraud and greed that led to the 2008 housing crisis. These events are all David vs. Goliath stories; real life heroes that fought against corporate greed that was hurting people. But GameStop: Rise of the Players isn't as informative as The Big Short. While it covers the events of the GameStop short squeeze, you would learn more from looking through old twitter and reddit threads documenting the event. Because at its core, GameStop: Rise of the Players isn’t about a bunch of ordinary people who saw the signs of market fraud. It’s instead about a group of people that bet everything on the stock market because they believed GameStop had a higher perceived value than $3. And the documentary is structured in such a way that it doesn’t reveal why they believed in the stock. It isn’t until 40 minutes in that we hear about the hedge funds that short sold 140% of #GME stock. And it’s touched on for a moment, then left behind to be forgotten. So, while the short squeeze is fundamental to how these individuals got wealthy, the documentary barely pays any attention to why GameStop was being shorted.
But the most damning fact about GameStop: Rise of the Players, is that it’s a poorly constructed documentary. The pacing of the documentary is abysmal, with segments often running far too long and saying little at all. The editing is overdone and not engaging. And while a good documentary would teach people who only witnessed the event from outside the reddit/twitter sphere, GameStop: Rise of the Players seems to laugh at those people and pander to those already in on the joke. It borrows a lot of online stock vernacular from reddit and twitter and does a poor job at explaining most of it. And considering the NFT market that utilizes similar terms, this documentary seems primed to induct ordinary individuals into the Crypto sphere, which isn’t a good thing.
The core conceit of this documentary just doesn’t work. It’s poorly structured, poorly edited so that people don’t say anything of value, and over-produced. It’s a documentary that celebrates creating synthetic demand not to overthrow hedge funds, but because the line can only go up. The framing of these events as fate, and not blind luck, kills any goodwill I had for the project.
At the end of the day, this documentary is prime for a television slot between 1 and 3 am on a Monday night. If you are looking to learn more about stock markets and online finances, I would recommend watching Dan Olsen’s YouTube Documentary Line Goes Up, or the previously mentioned The Big Short. Both these are much more informative than GameStop: Rise of the Players, and worth your time.