The latest edition of The Spectator Australia has an editorial titled “Mr Bean goes to Ecuador,” and I will quote all of it:
When they come to make the inevitable tele-movie about the Assange affair, may we recommend that Sacha Baron Cohen play the part of Ecuadorean despot, sorry, er, president Rafael Correa and that Rowan Atkinson don a white wig and play the great Aussie cyber-freedom fighter and political martyr himself. It is hard to imagine two more ludicrous characters thrown together on the world stage, and it is inconceivable that anyone other than the world’s two greatest comedians would be able to do them justice.
Speaking of which, Evading Justice could be the film’s title, as Julian fights to avoid doing what every other citizen accused of sexual molestation and rape must do: face the music. His woeful excuse – doing so puts him at risk of being extradited to the US – only highlights his refusal to accept the consequences of his own behaviour. Indeed, it is worth pointing out that, along with blithely endangering informants’ lives, Julian Assange is suspected of encouraging a young and naive Bradley Manning to upload the military secrets that WkiLeaks built its fame and wealth upon, knowing full well that Private Manning might end up in military detention on the sorts of charges (espionage, conspiracy, unlawful access to confidential information) that Mr Assange himself is so terrified of facing. Cowards and hypocrites don’t come any worse.
And Messiah complexes don’t come any bigger. “As WikiLeaks stands under threat, so does the freedom of expression and the health of our societies,” Saint Julian proclaimed to a throng of worshippers from his balcony a few feet above a packed London street, pitching himself as Nelson Mandela, the Pope and Rosa Parks rolled into one. Missing from his address was any mention of or sympathy for the two girls in Sweden who claim they were assaulted by him.
Sacha Baron Cohen plays dictators very well so he’ll have no trouble nailing the corrupt and narcissistic President Correa, the son of a drug runner, who loathes the US for imprisoning his dad, who jails you if you call him a dictator, who’s buddies with Hugo Chavez and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who’s setting up a media oversight panel so he can censor and fine journos without bothering to go to court and who is quite happy to evade his economic responsibilities to the IMF and the international community, thereby pushing his people further into poverty and isolation.
Fantasising that he could “hear teams of police swarming up into the building through the internal fire escape”, Mr Assange’s balcony address was a rambling mixture of pop-politics and self-mythologising. “in the morning, the sun came up on a different world, and a courageous Latin American nation took a stand for justice,” he proclaimed to his fans, as he warned of an “oppressive” US, “in which journalists fall silent under the fear of prosecution and citizens must whisper in the dark”.
Pass the popcorn.