What parents need to know

Parents need to know that We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks is an intense survey of one of the most controversial information "leaks" in recent history. Oscar-winning documentarian Alex Gibney tells the story of two men: Australian WikiLeaks founder/visionary/hacker Julian Assange and American soldier/computer whiz Bradley Manning, who is, by all accounts, the whistleblower responsible for leaking thousands of confidential videos and memos to Assange's "anonymous" online dropbox. There's grim violence, particularly in the leaked war footage, that's too disturbing for younger audiences, as well as strong language ("f--k," "a--hole," etc.) and references to sex and sexual coercion. Viewers need to be mature enough to handle the movie's difficult themes and issues and to figure out what they believe about the secrets and lies discussed in the documentary.
  • Families can talk about whether We Steal Secrets portrays its subjects objectively or with any bias. Do documentaries have to be subjective?
  • How does the filmmaker debunk some of the myths surrounding the WikiLeaks story? What did you learn about the people involved?
  • Discuss the idea of Mendax, Assange's old hacker name, and how it applies to him now. Do you think he's "nobly untruthful"? Is he portrayed as a villain, a visionary, or a bit of both?
  • Do you think the potential cost of exposing secrets (imprisonment, retaliation) is worth it if the global citizenry can know what's really going on in a war or behind the scenes in corporations, the government, or international relations?
  • Does We Steal Secrets make you respect hackers? Why or why not? What do you think of Adrian Lamo? Do you think he trapped Manning by befriending him, or do you believe he was in what he called a "no-win situation"?
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