DIAMOND HANDS: THE LEGEND OF WALLSTREETBETS (2022)
Director: Zackary Canepari. Drea Cooper.
Release Date: SXSW 2022
Runtime: 89 Minutes
"When the smart money was betting GameStop would go under, an army of irreverent traders tried to take Wall Street down instead. Diamond Hands is their story. This is the legend of the subreddit/WallStreetBets."
OUR MOVIE REVIEW:
It couldn’t have been a more perfect storm. During the midst of a global pandemic, one app decided to be the gateway for regular, everyday people to invest the money (in the case for many, a government supplied stimulus cheque) into the stock market without having to learn the nitty-gritty of buying, selling and watching numbers go up and down and left and right.
But then in January 2021, an unprecedented event occurred when a group of anti-Wall Street cyber soldiers decided to ‘short squeeze’ a dying stock, that being the stocks of the video game company, GameStop. Gathering on the subreddit, r/WallStreetBets, thousands of people bought shares in the retail company, driving it’s share price to a record high and simultaneously causing incredible financial repercussions for large hedge funds. It was the ultimate act of David taking on the conglomerate of Goliath, until Goliath fought back, and fought back dirty.
Diamond Hands: The Legend of WallStreetBets is a fascinating and intimate breakdown of the events leading up to the January 21st short squeeze and the succeeding events thereafter through interviews with a group of people who took the gamble on GameStop alongside their financially inclined Reddit pals.
Directed by Zack Canepari and Drea Cooper, Diamond Hands expands on the traditional “talk-to-camera” interview with a truly electric, vibrant and engaging documentary. Utilising a pulse-pounding-electro soundtrack along with the colourful and lighting paced visuals you’d see on a early 2010s video game compilation video, creates this exciting feeling that immediately draws attention and holds it. There’s an excitement with the presentation and editing of this documentary that replicates what the feeling of gambling on the GameStop stocks felt like, as explained by the documentary's subjects.
Diamond Hands does not hold back on doing a deep dive into all the technicalities and lingos with the ‘stock short squeeze’, but within it’s engaging format of presentation, the directors have done a fantastic job of making the information digestible for a previously uninformed viewer. While not every aspect of this event will be able to be fully grasped, the general understanding of what happened and how it affected all the players involved is fleshed out well enough to be an informative, yet moving narrative.
The foundations of Diamond Hands’ more moving moments comes from the first-person recollections of those who were involved in the squeeze. From the moderator of the WallStreetBets subreddit, to the COVID-led unemployed looking to make a quick buck, to the educated stock market tracker, to a guy who just wanted to see what would happen as his own ‘social experiment’, the variety of subjects being interviewed really displays how much of an open playing field this event was. People who had never been interested in stock trading before had their lives changed in the most fascinating way, ultimately, by taking a gamble. And the different outcomes by the documentary's end are even more fascinating after hearing all the varying advice that was given and received during their trading time.
As stated earlier, this is ultimately a David vs Goliath story, in which a group of internet forum activists decided to fight back on the hedge funds and companies that were restricting them from driving the stock price of GameStop to an unbelievable level. There is an inspiring, underdog element to the narrative that will undoubtedly drive the audience to cheer on the Reddit users who stuck out the bullying from Wall Street. However, at the same time, the documentary does a great job of making it understood that there is an element of gambling involved with the stock market trade, a gamble that can feel addictive when the power dynamic shifts back to the ‘little guy’.
The title of Diamond Hands is in reference to a term used on the subreddit, where if a trader holds the line on their shares, not buying out at any point, based on the hope that their shares will continue to rise, that is known as ‘Diamond Hands’. If you bail on a falling stock in order to mitigate losses, then that is known as ‘Paper Hands’. After watching this thoroughly interesting and engaging documentary, it only makes sense that this is an inspiring, yet cautionary tale. Going full Diamond Hands exposed the corruption within Wall Street and how it affects the low-level trader, but going full Diamond Hands also has its negative impacts, and this documentary leaves it up to the audience to decide whether they think it would all be worth it in the end… no matter how much money is made or lost.