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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Julian Assange is Heath Ledger's Joker

The question "What is motivating Julian Assange?" has been posted on Quora.  There are a few useful responses, and then there is this..

Julian Assange's motivations remind me of "The Joker" in The Dark Knight, the classic Oscar-winning performance by the late Heath Ledger. Director Chris Nolan's interpretation of the Joker was to paint a portrait of a modern-day terrorist and agitator, someone who was nomadic, with no known relatives or residences. Nolan and Ledger's Joker was motivated by "sending a message" to authorities. It was not about money or fame. The Joker believed that everyone had "plans" and that when things went according to plan, even if they were horrific, nobody would care. However, if something when against the plan, such as the attempted assassination of the Gotham mayor in the movie, the public freaks out. It's chaos. It's dogs chasing cars. These leaks go way, way against the plans of authorities, and it provides very intense sunshine, and that freaks many people out. Nolan's and Ledger's Joker is an outlaw and is willing to break any law, no matter the cost, to introduce any bit of anarchy into the mix. The more and more I read about Assange, such as the New Yorker article from earlier this year, or this recent leak, or the upcoming corporate hit he's going to lay on Wall Street, the more it becomes apparent to me that what's motivating Assange is the same thing that motivated the Joker: they are both squarely focused on sending a strong message and disrupting the authorities' plans.

My comments:

Hmm... usually when someone does a "Julian Assange as an archetype" sort of analysis, they call on references that go a little farther back than 2008. Like, normally one would expect to see some connections made to figures from mythology, some of the classics in literature, or even the work of Carl Jung. But okay, maybe you can be as insightful by referencing Dilbert as you can by exploring links between what is happening in the world now and the writings of Neitzche.

Still, the analogy is pretty much a thinly disguised piece of bullshit. Julian Assange is no anarchist. Anarchists don't sit still for interviews, they don't drink coffee from huge ceramic mugs while lounging on comfy sofas, they don't speak in calm voices, and they certainly never wear white, because anarchists are always dirty, and wearing white would just not be practical. In addition, someone as fine as Julian wold never and should never wear a balaclava as all anarchist must at some point do.

Further, the author claims to be talking about motivations, when he/she only ever addresses the behaviours of both the Joker and Assange. This is problematic because, although all non-reflexive, goal-directed behaviour can be said to have underlying motivations, behaviours and motivations are separate concepts. The one can not be inferred from the other - certainly not without some much more intimate knowledge of the person. It's also problematic because it's just not very in-depth or insightful. 

In conclusion.. FAIL.

1 comment:

  1. You are, you assert, A Psychologist. (With a Ph.D.!) So I'm going to go right ahead and assume that you've heard about a little Axis II diagnosis called Narcissistic Personality Disorder. ...Done here.