Once upon a time the town of Steubenville, Ohio was best known as the hometown of Wild Cherry, the band behind ‘Play That Funky Music.’ In late 2012 the town and its community found itself getting dragged into the spotlight by hacktivist Deric Lostutter, aka KYAnonymous. Lostutter’s efforts drew national attention to the rape of a teenage girl by two members of the high school football team. Plan B Entertainment hopes to adapt the events of the Steubenville Rape Case in Anonymous vs. Steubenville.
The title of the film comes from a Rolling Stone article about the case as well as previous operations organized by Lostutter. While both of the rapists later confessed and received jail time, Lostutter currently faces a much harsher sentence for violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. Various city school employees including the Superintendent and two coaches have also been indicted by a grand jury. The issues surrounding this case, not to mention that it only happened less than two years ago, will make this a difficult story to bring to the big screen.
Plan B is no stranger to sensitive material as it is currently coming off the success of Best Picture Winner 12 Years A Slave. That said, the producers of Anonymous vs. Steubenville will certainly have their work cut out for them. Any telling of this story will likely have to address the prosecution against Lostutter for the invasions of privacy for which he stands accused. Adapting recent events to film proved too difficult for last year’s Wikileaks film, The Fifth Estate, a failure both critically and commercially. On the other hand, Zero Dark Thirty came out less than two years after the death of Osama Bin Laden and was an Oscar nominee for Best Picture.
Similar rape cases, such as one in Maryville, Missouri that occurred in January 2012, demonstrate that the Steubenville case was not an isolated incident. Just by releasing the film, Plan B will put itself on a national stage to make powerful statements about the value of personal privacy against the need to bring rapists and other criminals to justice. Hopefully, the studio is up to the challenge.