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Why Julian Assange Should Embrace 'The Fifth Estate' 194

Posted by timothy
from the smear-jobs-are-delicious dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes "It's no secret that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has a low opinion of the new film, "The Fifth Estate," in which he's portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch. He's railed against it several times, culminating in a lengthy statement (posted Oct. 9) in which he called it 'a geriatric snoozefest that only the US government could love.' That's in addition to a letter in which he refused to meet with Cumberbatch, saying that the script would force the actor to give a 'talented, but debauched, performance.' WikiLeaks and Assange are clearly attempting a bit of damage control ahead of the film's Oct. 11 release in the U.K. (followed by its U.S. debut on Oct. 18). But what if that pushback is the wrong reaction? That's not to say that Assange should gleefully embrace the film —the script portrays him as something of a hustler who freely lies about his past. Whatever its qualities, however, the film could get people talking about WikiLeaks' role in the broader geopolitical context, and that's ultimately a good thing for the organization: It's been quite some time since Assange and company have provided the world with an explosive, game-changing revelation. If nothing else, Assange can take some cold comfort from the case of Mark Zuckerberg, who faced similar issues when the David Fincher-directed 'The Social Network' made its debut in 2010; Facebook's PR team was probably preparing for the worst as the release date approached, but the film — despite its impressive box office, and the awards it won — ultimately did little to harm either the real-life Zuckerberg's reputation or Facebook's continuing growth."
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Why Julian Assange Should Embrace 'The Fifth Estate'

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  • ...cannot be a good thing for his credibility, no matter what geopolitical issues it brings to the fore.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by TWiTfan (2887093)

      Being portrayed as a liar...by Daniel Domscheit-Berg

      FTFY. Daniel Domscheit-Berg is behind this movie, as he was the book [amazon.com] on which it's based. And it's my strong suspicion that Berg was either a CIA or FBI plant at WikiLeaks. He began sabotaging the operation almost from day one, attempted (successfully) to destroy many of its documents, and has actively participated in the concerted effort to discredit Assange ever since he got canned.

      I would call him a "traitor," but that would imply that he was ever an actual ally.

      • by TWiTfan (2887093) on Thursday October 10, 2013 @12:44PM (#45093967)

        Oh, and I should also mention that he tried to set up a leaks site of his own after he left that looked suspiciously like a honeypot operation. Just send your documents and identities to our secretive and closed-source system and trust us to pass it on to the press (yeah, right). Fortunately, it failed [slashdot.org], hopefully because no one was stupid enough to trust Daniel Domscheit-Berg.

        • by guru42101 (851700) on Thursday October 10, 2013 @12:47PM (#45094001)
          Well who's going to trust someone whose last name looks like 'dumb shit berg'.
    • by jeremyp (130771)

      What credibility? Julian Assange broke his bail conditions. He's a fugitive from justice. He ran away from a rape charge. He has no credibility.

  • Don't. Stop. Don't. Stop. Don't . . . stop. Don't stop.
  • Up With Wikileaks (Score:5, Insightful)

    by b4upoo (166390) on Thursday October 10, 2013 @12:08PM (#45093533)

    I hope that Wikileaks can continue to get information to the public. I suspect that government agents have infested WikiLeaks in every way they can and wonder if Wikileaks can still function.

    • by Xest (935314)

      Perhaps that's why Visa and Mastercard (or at least one of them IIRC?) has started processing payments for Wikileaks again. Because the government has infiltrated it?

  • the case of Mark Zuckerberg, who faced similar issues when the David Fincher-directed 'The Social Network' made its debut in 2010; Facebook's PR team was probably preparing for

    Taking extra money showers, then wiping their arse with $100 bills? Please! The entire business model of Facebook has been around monetization. They don't care about reputation as long as it sells. "Zuckerberg is evil! Buy this book!" Er, ok. "Zuckerberg is God! Buy this book!" Er, ok. Either way... the book is bought.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The reason The Social Network had no effect on Zuckerberg's reputation was because it portrayed him as a kinda-douchey, hard-working, intelligent dork. This was exactly what people assumed he was.

  • Thanks to the casting choice of this movie, If I ever meet Julian Assange, I am going to walk up to him and say "KHAN!!!!!"
  • by sl4shd0rk (755837) on Thursday October 10, 2013 @12:18PM (#45093653)

    Seems to me this is a pretty good attempt for the media to portray Assange any way they like. The public will lap it up and believe every bit of it, regardless of it's true-to-life accuracy. It's a lot easier to vilify people when you have the masses on your side already.

  • by SuricouRaven (1897204) on Thursday October 10, 2013 @12:22PM (#45093713)

    It's no secret that the US military has a close relationship with hollywood at times. They loan military hardware for use as props, in return for assurances that the movies will portray them in a good way. This isn't a shadowy backroom dealing - a few minutes googling will show it's all done out in the open. There is even a small department within the Pentagon, the Film Liaison Office, dedicated to the task.

    So is it possible that someone pressured the studios involved (Principly Dreamworks) to make sure that Assange was shown in a suitably scoundral-like manner? I'm not talking about anything serious like threats of jail for no-cooperating, just a reminder that studios which insult the military or lend support to wanted enemies of the state are not going to be getting any of those oh-so-useful support agreements in future. 'If you make Assange look good, don't come to us next time you want to film scenes on an aircraft carrier.'

    • by Motard (1553251)

      Hollywood certainly has had no problem making the US Military look like boobs in any number of films. I think it's only the movies where they need to use fighter jets, or tanks and the like, that they need to play nice.

    • by s.petry (762400) on Thursday October 10, 2013 @12:41PM (#45093917)

      Well, you touch on something pretty obvious which is close to what I was going to state. This movie, like the other mentioned Zuckerberg film, is a propaganda tool.

      The MIC, as you mentioned, does have ties to Hollywood. Historically movies have been put out to "sell war" and FUD about alleged enemies of the US. Those ties have grown in the last couple decades, and its honestly rare not to find propaganda in movies (if you look). The themes, items shown, etc... are all done intentionally. People argue that it's "all for money" and all the connections to propaganda are accidental, but would a studio full of professional's making multiple millions of dollars really be doing things "accidentally"? By the way, many books are the same way. They must be vetted and rewritten to suite someone's taste and not just the story the Author is trying to present.

      So Assange is shown as a person to hate in this movie. Zuckerberg, even though there is much controversy about his beginnings and what he stole to get a company going, was presented as a good guy. Those are the messages they want people to get out of the movie. Whistle blowers are evil bad people, while those that hand all your data to the Government are the good guys.

      There is much to study in subliminal messages in movies. Numerous books are out there showing how they do things, in addition to videos showing you what you may have missed seeing in movies but your subconscious picks up.

      I'll close with something I already stated for the doubters. Do you really believe that people making millions upon millions of dollars have movies full of "accidents" or unintentional messages and content? That is not a realistic thought process, yet many have it.

      • Historically movies have been put out to "sell war" and FUD about alleged enemies of the US.

        In tinfoil-hat land maybe, in the real world... not so much.

        I'll close with something I already stated for the doubters. Do you really believe that people making millions upon millions of dollars have movies full of "accidents" or unintentional messages and content? That is not a realistic thought process, yet many have it.

        Having seen how much is routinely read into things ex post facto (sometimes by decades

        • by s.petry (762400)

          Historically movies have been put out to "sell war" and FUD about alleged enemies of the US.

          In tinfoil-hat land maybe, in the real world... not so much.

          You are going to try and deny reality that is proven over your belief? Really? It is no secret that Hollywood worked for the MIC during WW II, The Korean War, and Vietnam War. This fact is most definitely not a conspiracy, it is reality. This is a reality you may not wish to hear or see, but the reality does exist.

          If you knew of a book that showed how advertising uses subliminal messaging would you change your mind and consider that it could also happen in movies, or hide from that reality too? Here [redicecreations.com], H [businessinsider.com]

      • by mjr167 (2477430)

        Having actually written things and participated in literary analysis, I can assure you that the first thing you learn is to smile and nod once people start cooing about all the subtle undertones and hidden meanings.

        I once wrote a poem about spring that was then touted as being about denied love. People make of movies/books/poems/art what they will. I can guarantee you that your audience will read into whatever you produce whatever meaning they are looking for and most of there is no more 'truth' behind it

      • . Do you really believe that people making millions upon millions of dollars have movies full of "accidents" or unintentional messages and content? That is not a realistic thought process, yet many have it.

        In China, many people felt that the movie Avatar was social commentary about the occupation of Tibet. It got to the point where the government cancelled all 2D showings (about 4500 screens) leaving only the 3D version to play in much smaller number of theaters. Who really knows what was in Cameron's head, but it sure seems unlikely that Tibet was the focus of the movie. Just because some films are propaganda doesn't mean that everything in a film is propaganda.

        http://www.chinasmack.com/2010/stories/ava [chinasmack.com]

        • by s.petry (762400)

          The other aspect of Avatar to study is the message regarding trans-humanism. Avatar is not the only example of this, more recently there is a Vogue series with Google Glass holding similar messages. These are just two examples, but the overall theme is that is trans-humanism is good and godly, while remaining human is bad.

        • by sadboyzz (1190877)

          In China, many people felt that the movie Avatar was social commentary about the occupation of Tibet.

          What?? Which China are you talking about?

          No Chinese would ever see themselves as colonists, only as victims of colonialism (first the British, then the Japanese).
          No Chinese would ever think of Tibet as an "occupation", only as an "Autonomous Region". Tibet has never been an "issue" in the minds of most Chinese. Chinese travel freely in Tibet, seldom aware that foreigners are often denied access.

          As such, if the Chinese sees any message in the movie Avatar, it can only be about the struggle of indigenous peo

      • by steelfood (895457)

        To concur with your point, professional storytellers have no unintentional messages and content. Most of their education revolves around making up bullshit about past works. They're well aware of the B.S. that'd their own work would become the subject of, and plan accordingly. And the longer they've been at it, the better they're able to manipulate their audience into thinking what they want the audience to think.

        This is what happens when the school system fails. People get their truths from entertainment.

        • 1984 was written as a response to Brave New World; without it, 1984 would not have happened. 1984 is based upon almost entirely negative feedback and censorship for total control. Brave New World was based entirely upon positive feedback controls and distraction; censorship wasn't heavy handed; it didn't need to be. It was more imaginative and trying to point out new methods of control (which were beginning to be used at the time) and new problems while 1984 was a rebuttal, reminding people how human na

      • by sadboyzz (1190877)

        So what you're saying is that the movie producers are not allowed to have opinions at all? By your standard all movies having any ties to history and current events are propaganda, and all documentaries are automatically propaganda too.

    • It is vital to the bizarre legal strategy of the US authorities that the public and a potential future jury are led to believe that Assange is a sort of criminal mastermind who 'ordered' people like Manning to hack into military computer systems and steal state secrets, and that he did not just receive documents like any journalist. The movie script portrays him in exactly that way.

      So I agree. The 'conspiracy' does not seem very far-fetched in this case. At least the motive is there.

    • by dbIII (701233)

      to make sure that Assange was shown in a suitably scoundral-like manner

      That's par for the course in any Hollywood treatment. Even Apollo 13 added extra conflict and made the astronauts look less professional than reality despite a deliberate effort to try not to do so. At one point Ron Howard decided to story just needed a bit of conflict to keep it exciting.

  • Most of the people who will see the film can tell the difference between fact and fiction, including being able to generally identify the wide swath in between. This is not going to be a "Batman" blockbuster. It's not even going to be a "The Social Network" blockbuster.

    Anyone who had an opinion on whether or not Mark Zuckerberg was sort of a sleaze did not have their opinion changed by seeing "The Social Network."
    • Most of the people who will see the film can tell the difference between fact and fiction, including being able to generally identify the wide swath in between.

      I don't know about that and think it depends on the facts and fictions involved. After seeing Gravity, I'm sure there will be many, many people that think the ISS and Hubble are just a jet-pack ride apart, when, in fact, they are not - Astronaut and a Writer at the Movies [nytimes.com]. Unless one actually knows (or is willing/able to research) the facts, the fictions can be rather compelling...

  • He's being portrayed in a way he doesn't like by somebody that has an agenda that involves gain on their part by making others look bad. This is happening by using information provided by others and the whole thing is outside of his control. The media is then being involved to make sure that the exploitation is maximized for greatest impact. The bully gets his due and doesn't like the taste of his own medicine and is off to cry to his mommy about how others are treating him.

    This couldn't have happened to a

  • by m00sh (2538182) on Thursday October 10, 2013 @12:44PM (#45093959)

    The fifth estate is a mediocre movie. The fact that the talented Cumberbach plays Assange means that Assange becomes human rather than a political figure. When Cumberbach is not on screen, it has the feel of a PBS UK import.

    The movie is through the perspective of Assange's friend and so, Assange comes off as a mystery rather than a liar.

    As for the movie, it is just middling. People who dislike Assange will find more reasons to confirm their dislike and those who like Assange will find more reasons to do so.

    Maybe I missed it during the movie but the speech where Assange/Cumberbach says "they are afraid of you" that is in the trailers is not in the movie.

    • Maybe I missed it during the movie but the speech where Assange/Cumberbach says "they are afraid of you" that is in the trailers is not in the movie.

      Probably didn't test well against government audiences...

  • Reminds me of the pro-gov slanted news and media in Russia, China, Syria, etc.

    Just mix in some non-factual shit, call it "artistic license", and you can paint whichever real events however you want in the minds of fools -- The largest voting demographic...

  • Wikileaks is about exposing hidden truth. Assange would be a hypocrite to go along with a production that he feels hides the truth.

    Assange might be wrong about what constitutes truth in this situation because, unlike something as straight-forward as publishing secret documents, some truths are a matter of perspective. Nevertheless, you can't reasonably expect Assange to go along with something he believes is not truthful.

    Comparisons to facebook miss the point. Facebook is about making money and while the

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