Q: Into the Storm
By Joyce Slaton,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Language and sex/violence imagery in exhausting docuseries.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Viewers are urged to think for themselves, to question what they hear and read, and what they are told. This series demonstrates how easy it is to subvert democracy, and how easy it is for ideas to take hold and spark consequences.
Positive Role Models
Participants are diverse in terms of geographical location, age, and physical ability but are united in their beliefs. The consequences of joining fringe groups is clear, with adherents demonstrating pain over frayed family relationships and friendships. We also see that many conspiracy theorists seem to have little joy in their lives, or many connections to others besides those online. Most of the Q adherents we meet are White, and we see a lot of racist imagery and memes in screenshots from online forums.
Violence & Scariness
Violent imagery is not pervasive, but one episode in particular delves into the 2019 mass shootings at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, and we see footage of the shooting taken by the killer. We also see footage of the 2021 U.S. Capitol riot, including signs calling for killings and mock gallows. Q fans brandish guns, shoot targets, and talk about needing guns for "home defense." We see historical images (paintings and woodcuts) of men drinking from the bodies of dead babies and stabbing a child. Q adherents talk about babies and children being eaten and raped, sex trafficking, blood drinking, and other imaginary atrocities.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Sexual violence figures into QAnon beliefs; see "Violence" section for more. There are references to sex tourism and to pornography, during which we see some sexual images, including images of bare-breasted women.
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Language is infrequent but expect "f--king," "f--k," "s--t," "assh--e." The "N" word appears in memes.
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Products & Purchases
We see lots of logos for online properties, from major companies (Twitter, YouTube) to more dubious ones (8chan, 4chan).
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
There's a brief discussion about drug trafficking in the context of crime and criminal justice.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Q: Into the Storm is a documentary series detailing the history, background, and cultural impact of QAnon, a set of right-wing conspiracy theories propagated mostly online. Some imagery connected with QAnon beliefs and activities is violent and/or sexual in nature: we see footage filmed by the gunman responsible for the 2019 Christchurch, New Zealand mosques mass shooting, blurred out images of what may be child abuse, pornography that shows women posing with bare breasts. In other scenes, we see images from the 2021 riot at the U.S. Capitol, protestors brandishing guns and making (joke?) gallows, and a QAnon supporter target shooting with a massive rifle. QAnon beliefs are often connected with violence. We hear about children being raped and murdered, sex trafficking, blood drinking, and see historical artistic images of people killing and consuming children. We also see racist imagery in screen shots of online forums, including ones that use the "N" word; cursing includes "f--king," "f--k," "s--t," "assh--e." The consequences of adhering to fringe beliefs are made clear as QAnon supporters talk about frayed relationships and limited to no social lives outside of online chatter. Viewers are urged to question what they hear and read, but the docuseries also allows QAnon followers to repeat their theories without questioning or debunking them, which may have the affect of spreading the cockeyed logic further.
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Q: Into the Storm
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What's the Story?
Q: INTO THE STORM takes a deep dive into a modern phenomenon, when a shadowy online figure known as Q began making "drops" of murky bits of information to various online forums, sparking a conspiracy theory known as QAnon. This theory alleges that a group of Hollywood celebrities, Democratic politicians, and billionaires run a global child sex-trafficking ring, conspired against former President Donald Trump, and maintains power by consuming the blood of babies. Q: INTO THE STORM traces the growth of the QAnon theory, checking in with true believers on such related incidents as Pizzagate, the 2019 mass shootings at Christchurch, New Zealand mosques, the 2021 riot at the U.S. Capitol, and more.
Is It Any Good?
Fitfully fascinating but overlong and confusing, this docuseries reaches for truth but ultimately winds up bogged down in layers of inexplicable detail, and worse, uncritically telegraphs conspiracy messages. The beginning of director Cullen Hoback's Q: Into the Storm is exhilarating, as the director begins introducing us to some of the real people behind online right-wing conspiracy chatter, and connecting the dots between what they believe and how they were able to convince legions of others. Looking into one of Q-dom's most infamous lines of conspiracy, the belief that a global elite is raping and consuming babies to maintain their power, Hoback gives us historical anecdotes. "Calling your enemy a baby-eater is an age old strategy," Hoback tells us, as we see Crusade-era paintings of leering Muslim men, a WWI pamphlet depicting a German soldier stabbing a cartoon child with a bayonet, and a woodcut of Jewish men drinking a baby's blood through straws.
So far, so good: Into the Storm is at its best when holding Q's bizarre beliefs up to scholarly scrutiny. But things quickly go off the rails as Hoback seems more interested in finding out Q's real identity than understanding why such outlandish beliefs found fertile soil in the minds and hearts of so many. In the service of this quest, Into the Storm descends to spending seemingly endless moments letting "movement" adherents talk. And when they talk, it's always about shadowy cabals and deadly conspiracies, when they're not dissing another of the dude-bros who they argue with online. In short, it's all nonsense, and Hoback doesn't press them with hard questions nor swiftly debunk their claims often enough, which results, oddly enough, in Into the Storm merely repeating, rather than disrupting, some of QAnon's crowd-sourced notions. The series has its moments, but too few of them to earn the show its running time.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about Q: Into the Storm's violent images. How much is shown, and how strong is the effect? Do you think they were necessary to make a point? Did they take you by surprise?
What role do rallies, protests, and marches play in the political process? Do you see an increasing trend toward activism today? What has changed?
Does this series feel biased one way or another? Does it have a political agenda? Is it possible for any documentary movie or series to be completely objective or free of bias?
- Premiere date: March 21, 2021
- Cast: Cullen Hoback, Fredrick Brennan
- Network: Max
- Genre: Reality TV
- TV rating: TV-MA
- Last updated: December 16, 2022
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