Hold-Up is a 2020 conspirational French documentary which was funded and shared online, and whose subject is the denunciation of a Big Pharma conspiracy amidst the CoViD-19 pandemic. It went viral online and has been vastly discussed in various media, and most of all Twitter, in a highly controversial fashion, with many people praising the movie and many others heavily criticizing it.
Creation and funding
Hold-Up was produced by Pierre Barnérias-Desplas, and consists in a compilation of photographies and interview extracts in quick succession, completed with an off stage commentary. Its concept was pitched on August 7th, 2020, and an Ulule account was opened on August 17th for a participatory funding.
The finished movie was uploaded on November 7th on Vimeo in early access, and was made publicly accessible on November 11th. On November 12th, the video platform banned the movie from its website, and sent this message to the account:
Vous ne pouvez pas mettre en ligne des vidéos mettant en scène ou encourageant des actes d’automutilation, prétendant à tort que les catastrophes de grande ampleur sont des canulars, et émettant des allégations erronées ou mensongères concernant la sécurité des vaccins.
[You can’t upload videos which show or encourage auto-mutilation acts, wrongfully pretend that large-scale catastrophies are hoaxes, and emitting incorrect or deceitful allegations about the safety of vaccines.]
In response, the movie’s team denounced what they qualified as “censorship” and uploaded their movie on two other video platforms, Odysee and Dailymotion, the latter of which quickly blocked the video as well.
Hold-Up is believed to have beneficed from a strong Streisand effect after its ban from Vimeo and its criticism by various mainstream television shows, convincing long-time conspiracy theorists that media at large was leagued against it because of lobbying. In parallel, celebrities such as Sophie Marceau, Carla Bruni or Booba shared the link to the video on social media. This led to a viral sharing of this video online, to the point where the hashtag #holdup was at the top of trending in Francophone Twitter.
Many people online and in TV news programs have pointed out a number of flaws in this movie, among which the most often pointed out are the following:
- The pacing of the film is quick and dense in order to create a sense of oppression in the viewer’s eye and to give them as little time for reflection as possible, ironically building a fear-mongering effect that is otherwise denounced by the film;
- Many of the interviewed guests and of the speakers in TV archives are quoted in such a manner that their declarations might easily be truncated by the editing and quoted out of their real context. Incidentally, after the public release of the movie, two of the guests have asked that their interview be removed entirely;
- A large majority of the guests are either known conspiracy theorists, affiliated with far-right movements, or both;
- Some of the conspiracies that are presented are particularly doubtful. This includes: an artificial engineering of the CoViD-19 virus, a secret campaign of euthanasia in the French hospitals, the voluntary creation of a pandemic to make place for the Great Reset (at which occasion the movie reached the Godwin Point), and the use of 5G technology for mass control;
- Little to no sources are shown, especially for the most extraordinary claims;
- Many critics have also talked about the movie’s “anti-Semitism”, particularly in its treatment of the Bill Gates and Rockefeller Foundations and their alleged involvement in a Great Reset conspiracy.
All of the detractors denounce what they see as a manipulative and baseless documentary, whose contestation of the beneficial effects of lockdowns, face masks and vaccines threatens the popularity and therefore effectiveness of such measures.
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