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WikiLeaks & The Perilous Celebrity Of Julian Assange

Topics: Editorial & Opinion | 2 CommentsBy admin | December 24, 2010

In a world that seems more interested in personalities than possibilities, it’s hard to say which way Julian Assange’s fame will go, but WikiLeaks has at least inspired a movement amongst the digital natives. And Assange has been immortalized in silly Flash games.

Probably one of the most interesting things that happened this year is that in spite of the fact that an organization called Wikileaks helped release an appalling video that showed the US military killing innocent civilians and Reuters journalists, as well as thousands of diplomatic cables that exposed the vile and deceitful nature of international relations, in the end, what we’ve ended up talking about most is the narcissistic Australian hacktivist that headed the organization. And of course the fact that in spite of the recent repeal of the US military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, they’re pretty emphatic about the “don’t tell” concept. At least in the case of Bradley Manning, who remains in what many human rights organizations consider inhumane confinement. Admittedly – as the AP pointed out early on – “none of the revelations is particularly explosive” in the CableGate files. That is, until the exposed parties react, and the media broadcasts the reaction. And then, suddenly all of those “not explosive” revelations become matters that threaten the national security of virtually every nation on Earth. Which is interesting, because I’d be willing to bet that you can’t name even three or four of the key “revelations” in the documents. The Telegraph has a longer timeline of WikiLeaks releases here, and Salon has a roundup of the CableGate highlights here to refresh your memory. You’ll note that most of the CableGate “revelations” have to do with bruised egos, name-calling, and distrustful relationships in global politics, not Earth-shattering secrets. So why is this Julian Assange guy being painted as some kind of international terrorist? Because unlike conventional celebrity gossip, political celebrity gossip is attached to true greed for power, not just a greed for being liked, and can literally be a fight to the death. Which is why – as I’ve said before – let’s keep talking about Julian Assange. Maybe his celebrity will help bring a much needed jolt to journalistic methods, and truth will have some hope through “scientific journalism“. If you’ve only been following major media sources or partisan political bloggers for info, one of the more insightful pieces about Assange you’ll find is this one by Bruce Sterling, the novelist who wrote about Assange’s brand of “cypherpunk” decades ago, before this kind of activity was even technologically possible. And equally telling is Assange’s lawyers’ reaction to the Guardian’s leak of the details of the rape accusations against him. It remains to be seen if Assange can keep anything like an air of professional integrity intact as his unsavory celebrity continues, which it almost certainly will. A Swedish documentary called “WikiRebels” was recently made available on line (also below), and more details of his background will become more commonly known as the sensationalism ebbs a little and conventional news sources either need filler for stories or ways to distance themselves if the US government gets more ruthless in attempting to discredit or silence Assange. But for now, there’s at least a small international movement amongst the digital native generation that will keep the WikiLeaks vision alive, and not just the more volatile hacker groups that have attacked the websites of Visa, Amazon, Paypal, and others. Which, by the way, is considered by some to be a legitimate form of expressing dissent. And although rabid conservative bloggers are saying Obama dropped the ball by not shutting WikiLeaks down preemptively, many would say that Obama actually dropped the ball by not supporting the transparency he promised in his campaign. As is pointed out with humor in this Flash based game. And that is probably one of the surest signs one has achieved celebrity, to be immortalized in Flash games. Here’s another. Both are embedded below. What we need now is a WikiLeaks reality show to compete in Sarah Palin’s time slot.

This game satirizes Obama’s promises of transparency:

And in this one you get to help Assange battle the spies:

WikiRebels: The Documentary

Read Comments

  1. Posted by john minock on 12.26.10 10:09 am

    The Daily Mail sent a reporter to Sweden to investigate, and he came up with some huge flaws in the accusations against Assange, a combination of jealousy and buyers’ remorse.

    Just google the Swedish word “sexfalla” and you’ll get a hit to the Daily Mail story of Dec 7.

  2. Posted by Media Whore Smackdown: WikiLeaks vs OpenLeaks vs HBGary vs Anonymous | dissociatedpress.com on 02.10.11 11:46 pm

    [...] the near future, if we’re not vigilant. Originally the only real star of the WikiLeaks Show, we questioned back in December whether Assange could handle the celebrity. This has become less of an issue, because if [...]

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