CM's been back at her mum's looking after the cat this week, so I've had a bit more time than usual, and one of the things I've been doing is catching up on a 2021 documentary about QAnon. It's called Q: Into The Storm, and it was made by James O'Brien lookalike Cullen Hoback. I was excited to discover he also did Monster Camp (covered by Sean as part of his Decoy Octopus miniseries, get on that SFUltra Patreon if you're not already). There's actually a brief clip from Monster Camp in Into The Storm because the term "LARP" is thrown around a lot in the QAnon community—but actually there's perhaps more continuity between the two films than you'd expect, perhaps because both are about groups of weird nerds involved in concocting elaborate fantasy scenarios having internecine beefs.
The Watkins family are the most curious aspect for me, as, having heard about them on podcasts for years, it was another thing entirely to see them on screen, and in person they are really, really weird. Jim in particular had one of the more bewildering affects I've ever seen on camera, this slightly doddering thing that didn't quite chime with what I'd expect from someone in his position. It was like watching Ray Sipe videos, feeling like there was some old person joke I was unable to decipher; with perhaps the suggestion that it was more akin to Phil Hartman's Reagan bit from SNL. Ron seemed like an overgrown edgy teenager: punching a post in his garden until his knuckles bled, watching porn on his in-car entertainment system while driving. Nevertheless, he's the one who Hoback has pegged as the most likely to be Q (or at least, one of the people behind Q), for reasons which seem largely sound (though the pen/watch stuff does still feel a bit circumstantial to me).
Hoback himself has said that the main story is his trying to work out who Q is, the secondary story is the beef between the Watkinses and Fred Brennan (who founded 8chan and sold it to them) and tertiarily about the effects QAnon has had on the world. Honestly, I think that's the right tack. I saw some writing about it that said it doesn't spend enough time trying to debunk QAnon or talk about the harm that it's doing—but that's already being done elsewhere. It's basically the full-time job of some of the film's talking heads: Will Sommer, Jared Holt, the QAA podcast lads. QAnon is so multifaceted that you can't really cover it in 6 hours, let alone debunk it all. That being the case, I think it sensibly sticks to telling a story, and it's quite a ride—I was incredibly tense for the sequence where Hoback was trying to help get Fred Brennan out of the Phillipines before the law (and COVID travel lockdown) caught up with him.
I'm not really sure what someone unfamiliar with QAnon would make of it, but for me it gave me something of a new perspective on the thing. I'm often bad at imagining what the real people behind the stuff you see online are like, and it turns out that in this case they are more bizarre than I could've possibly imagined. After years of just hearing and reading about it, just being able to put names to faces has, albeit subtly, changed the way I think about it.