It’s hard to know whether it’s intentional that The New Radical, Adam Bhala Lough’s slick documentary about “techno-anarchist” Cody Wilson, famous for developing a 3-D-printable plastic gun, presents its subject as a shallow pseudo-intellectual man-child. Wilson dubs his company, Defense Distributed, “WikiLeaks for guns,” saying, “WikiLeaks was about showing that the internet’s the only game in town, and it negates everything. It allows a new class of politics. [Julian] Assange was just negating this whole, like, polite secrecy that nations kept with each other about their diplomatic dealings and just throwing it out in public.”
Wilson wants to do the same for “sensitive technology,” including downloadable gun-printing files and crypto-currency. He’s run into the powers that be, including the State Department, which he’s battling in court on First Amendment grounds.
But his biggest problem may be the National Rifle Association, another game in town, which has distanced itself from him. For all his talk of Friedrich Nietzsche and Michel Foucault, Wilson essentially seems like just another capitalist bro, surfing his notoriety in hopes of making a living — standing beside his BMW, complaining about his student loans. He was jazzed about a possible Hillary Clinton presidency because of the prospect of paranoia-fueled gun sales, marketing in “super-palatable terms…[casting] a web that would snag red state Republicans…Tea Party types and at the same time…the digital radicals.”
That may be our biggest problem. Radicals come in all forms — in power and fighting the power. Perhaps the most radical of all is a guy who doesn’t really care.
The New Radical
Directed by Adam Bhala Lough
Opens December 1, Village East Cinema