The Cult of St Julian – now on TV
JULIAN Assange – hairstyle impressario, hacktivist, whistleblower-champion, house-arrestee – is foraying into the world of television talk shows. Starting in March, the WikiLeaks co-founder will host a series of 10 half-hour programmes in which he will converse with political activists and thinkers. The theme of the show is “the world tomorrow”.
A press release issued by WikiLeaks said the show will “draw together controversial voices from across the political spectrum – iconoclasts, visionaries and power insiders – each to offer a window on the world tomorrow and their ideas on how to secure a brighter future”.
In fact, the TV show looks like an attempt to revive the Cult of St Julian and to feed Assange’s apparently unbounded ego. The press release describes WikiLeaks as “the world’s boldest publisher” and Assange as a “pioneer for a more just world and a victim of political repression”.
Assange has fallen from the mainstream media’s grace, but once upon a time he was celebrated as a near-Messianic figure, as a brave bringer of truth and a hero of transparency. Some of his supporters even suggested that the sexual assault allegations made against him in Sweden were part of a conspiracy to silence and discredit him.
But while the assault allegations first boosted Assange’s martyr image, his stardom soon began to dwindle. He had public fallouts with the Guardian and other news outlets that had published the classified diplomatic cables handed over to WikiLeaks. He made increasingly conspiratorial statements, and there were revelations about WikiLeaks’ dodgy associates, like the anti-Semitic Israel Shamir.
Yet Assange’s ego doesn’t seem in the slightest chipped by any of this. In November, at a debate hosted by the Frontline Club in London, he claimed credit for inspiring the Arab Spring and the press release announcing his new TV show claims Assange is “one of the world’s most recognisable revolutionary figures”. It says he is “uniquely placed to catalyse a global discussion on how to go forward” in this era of radical political change. The press release was authorised by Assange himself.
Apparently, as far as Assange is concerned, the cult of St Julian lives on – and his one-man revolution will be televised.
Image: Australian actor Darren Weller, playing Julian Assange, performs an act during a photocall for the play ‘Man in the Middle’, which tells the story of WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange, at Theatre 503 in Battersea, south London, Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2012.