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Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Column: My new Big Brother

Julian Assange is once again basking in the Orwellian spotlight that first brought him to the forefront of our attention back in 2010.  Having announced his new “Russia TV” talk show from the confines of his house (arrest), the WikiLeaks founder is guaranteed to skewer claims against his seemingly obsolete website.

The first time I fully understood the scope of Assange’s influence was back in June 2010 when I began to suspect an internet apocalypse.

I had recently deactivated my Facebook with the false hope that life would return to, at least, an exponent of former productivity. Yet, in true human form, I found a procrastination alternative: The New Yorker.

During one of my scouring sessions through their online archives (stalking still ensues post-Facebook), I came across a profile piece on our favorite hacker, Mr. Assange. The reporter wrote what could have been pitched as a screenplay for the next Day After Tomorrow movie.

People called the WikiLeaks office the Bunker, key members and projects were known only by initials and at any given time the website’s servers would be feeding hundreds of thousands of fake submissions as deterrence from the real ones. Content was so untraceable and encrypted that to remove anything would require “dismantl[ing] the Internet itself,” according to the article. I was personally on “Red Alert” when I saw the digital world as we knew it under threat.

Greater transparency in the media was one thing. To hear that a single, silver-haired, Australian man was essentially forging his already victorious war with The Government was evidence of doomsday. The Mayans had been too gracious when they predicted 2012, I thought. My autobiography would abruptly end with ominous ellipses…

I started composing my will, only to realize there would be no one or thing left to bequeath my valuables — a miniature, pink Barbie Range Rover and an annotated set of French and English volumes of The Count of Monte Cristo.

It took some time to recover from my deathly scare. I admit when the keywords “Julian Assange” and “talk show” flashed past my eyes over the weekend, I gave a slight twitch.

But my interest in this digital parvenu was newly piqued when I learned the guest list of his show, “The World Tomorrow,” had yet to be revealed. That is to say, if Assange wins his case against Britain’s Supreme Court on sex allegations this week in time to host the Kremlin-supported show.

Come March, Quick Roll Productions will apparently air 10 30-minute weekly episodes. Just in case Assange is hard-pressed to come up with a group of “key political players, thinkers and revolutionaries,” as he says the show will feature, I have a few recommendations myself.

1. Michele Bachmann, for I have a feeling she would be the absolute ideal whistleblower. Willingly ready to expose the kind of information our public aches to hear, Bachmann surely knows, and will spill, how many Metamucils Ron Paul takes before hitting the podium, the number of sweater vests Rick Santorum owns and the true net worth of Mitt Romney, offshore accounts included. I found your key political player, Julian.

2. Nietzsche, because if he were alive, I could see an intense debate on whether God or journalism is dead. Propagandist television aside, viewers would be lost in the existential and nihilistic musings of both men. Perhaps the great thinker would act as a shoulder for the sexually charged (pun intended) Assange to cry on, hushing him with famous words of advice: “Ah, women. They make the highs higher, and the lows more frequent.”

3. The Occupiers, if they could manage to fit in the studio. What better, more revolutionary and more popular a guest could Assange bring to his show? (Don’t answer that, you twit.) He would walk onto the stage, maybe pull off a Conan O’Brien-like dance, and the entire show would remain an incessant chant of “We are the 99 Percent!”

I have a little sister, and she’s alright (kidding, Ashley), but Julian Assange is sure to produce in his new talk show what my parents never did: a feeling that Big Brother watches over me.

So you think CHELSEA MEHRA could upstage Assange’s act? Contact her at cmehra@ucdavis.edu if you know anyone in the biz.

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