28 October 2010

Life Imitates Art: Julian Assange and Gaius Baltar

Picture, if you will, a brilliant computer scientist with long, flowing hair, expensive suits, and a penchant for leaking sensitive military secrets.  Now imagine him dallying with tall, blonde women, and enjoying a harem of monotheistic cult followers.  Add in a dash of vain megalomania, and ensure that he's always on the run, and what do you have?

If you've been paying attention to the media, you might answer Wikileaks' founder Julian Assange.  However, if you're truly cultured, you'd understand that I'm referring to Gaius Baltar, one of the central figures in the reimagined Battlestar Galactica TV series.

Switched at birth?
Disclaimer:  Some have claimed that it's unfair to drag Mr. Assange's personal life into the Wikileaks debate.  I disagree.  Assange's near-dictatorial control over the organization means that, for all practical purposes, Wikileaks is Assange.  Furthermore, no discussion of Wikileaks' status--be it a whistleblower website, a form of journalism, or a source of espionage--would be complete without an examination of the man behind the website.

Battlestar Galactica has often contained allegories to the War on Terror.  Enslaved on New Caprica at the end of Season Two, humanity is forced to fight an insurgency not unlike that in Iraq.  Some humans collaborate with the Cylons, joining a Cylon police force, whereupon a suicide bomber infiltrates the graduation ceremony and detonates a suicide vest.  Throughout the series, the fleet is constantly embroiled in battles between the democratically-elected government and the Colonial Navy, with civil liberties often hanging precariously in the balance. 

Now, it seems, Battlestar Galactica has unintentionally offered a surprising paralell with the current Wikileaks saga.  Read on.

When we first encounter Gaius Baltar on Caprica, he's a brilliant computer scientist, entrusted with writing the programming for the Twelve Colonies' main defense frame.  Similarly, Assange is also a brilliant computer scientist; under the user name "Mendax", Assange spent some time in a hacking organization known as, "International Subversives" in the early 1990s.  His activities led to an arrest and conviction on twenty four counts of hacking.  However, he was released on bond for good conduct, and was forced to pay a relatively small fine.  Assange then spent most of the 1990s writing cryptographic software.

Both Assange and Baltar, of course, leak sensitive military secrets.  Over the past year, Assange has leaked classified documents information provided to him (presumably) by Army intelligence analyst Bradley Manning.  Baltar, however, is the unwitting source of a massive leak of classified information.  The Cylons gain access to vital military secrets after Baltar is seduced by a humanoid Cylon known as Caprica Six, who poses as a computer programmer.  Which is laughable, of course, because no computer programmer would ever look like Caprica Six.  But I digress.  At any rate, I suppose, in this analogy, Assange might be closer to Caprica Six than Baltar.

Wait, bad mental image.  Think positive thoughts, think positive thoughts.  I need a picture of Caprica Six.

Ahh, much better.

While we're on the topic of Caprica Six, let's also not forget the obvious:  both Assange and Baltar have obsessions with tall, blonde women.  Baltar's obsession with Caprica Six is obvious.  Following the destruction of the Colonies, and presumably the death of the original Caprica Six, Baltar still carries on conversations with an imaginary Six throughout the entire series.

(Note:  no one really explains what this Six actually is.  Is she a vision, a supernatural being?  Eh, fuck it, she's hot.)

I only read it for the Simon Cowell interview.  Honest.
Anyway, Julian Assange has also been known to dally with Swedish women.  I know it's a stereotype that all Swedish women are tall and blonde, but please, leave me with my fantasies intact.  In fact, if Gawker is to be believed, Wikileaks' founder Julian Assange is quite the sailor; one of the victims in the alleged rape case accused Assange of refusing to wear a condom during intercourse.

Julian Assange has ninety-nine problems, and, in this case, a bitch actually is one.  Or two.  Personally, I'm glad there wasn't a blue dress involved in this one, otherwise we'd have to put up with bad puns on the word "Winky-leaks" for months on end.  In other news, I totally made up that word myself, though with inspiration from Gawker.

Of course, no alpha male can limit himself to just one woman.  Such is the case with both Baltar and Assange; both are megalomaniacal self-proclaimed sex gods who prey on monotheistic cult followers.

Think I'm making this one up?  In Battlestar Galactica, Baltar inadvertently finds himself a cult leader, presiding over several young women who believe in a monotheistic god.  At one point, he convinces his harem that he, indeed, has miraculous powers.  Baltar, now sporting Christ-like long hair and a beard, pretends to pray over a dying child, restoring him to health.  This continues throughout Season Four, with Baltar doing what he does best:  he pontificating and he boning.  And man, does he ever bone. 

Of course, the same can't be true for Assange, right?  Au contraire.  Assange truly believes himself to be a sexual demigod, capable of giving a woman a deeply religious experience.  That's coming from his online diary, since taken down.

(Update:  They actually are available, thanks to the Web Archive)

After my state sponsored stay at ANU, I ended up at a backpackers filled with some of the 900 Christians from the Australian University Christian Convergence. Most were young women and I turned, somewhat disgracefully, into a sort of Chesterton's Hardy, the village atheist, brooding and blaspheming over the village idiot, while they, for their part, tried to convert me with the rise and fall their bosoms.
One of the devout was the lovely daughter of a New Castle minister. At some point in my unintended wooing of her, she looked up, fluttered her eyelids and said 'Oh, you know so much! I hardly know anything!'. 'That is why you believe in God," I explained. This conversational brutality took her breath away and she swooned. I was exactly what she secretly longed for; a man willing to openly disagree with her father. All along she had needed a man to devote herself to. All along she had failed to find a man worthy of being called a man, failed to find a man who would not bow to gods, so she had chosen a god unworthy of being called a god, but who would not bow to a man.
Seriously.  It gets better.
I've always found women caught in a thunderstorm appealing. Perhaps it is a male universal, for without advertising this proclivity a lovely girl I knew, but not well, on discovering within herself lascivious thoughts about me and noticing raindrops outside her windows, stood for a moment fully clothed in her shower before letting the wind and rain buffet her body as she made her tremulous approach to my door and of course I could not turn her away.
Though we might chalk up a computer nerd's alleged sexual exploits to typical "I put on my robe and wizard hat" boasting, I suspect there might be a bit of truth in this matter.  In his expose of the seduction community, Rolling Stone reporter Neil Strauss noted that "pick-up artists", in many cases, took up their trade as a means to finally control the power that women seemingly had over them.  Jilted by girls and and overlooked their entire life, PUAs, as they refer to themselves, turned seduction into a mechanistic, almost exact science.  As Neil Strauss noted, if one gives men a system in which they can legitimately compete for a high score--be it in sports, politics, World of Warcraft, or dating--by God, they will compete.

So there you have it.  Julian Assange is little more than a petulant, egomaniacal nihilist; a product of a broken childhood whose frequent moves from country to country mirror his own turbulent youth in which he lived in over a dozen homes.  His latest tantrum, in which he claimed that he could finally enjoy journalistic freedom in Havana or Moscow, is laughable.  Assange might enjoy protection in Havana only because he hasn't sought to expose the Castro regime's obvious abuses.  A Wikileaks exclusive on brutality in Cuba would hardly garner him the attention he seeks, and wouldn't play into his vendetta against the "haves" of the world order.

In light of Assange's behavior, several of his greatest supporters have openly called for him to resign.  Among them is Icelandic parliamentarian Birgitta Jonsdottir, who recently called for Assange to step down as the head of Wikileaks.  Moreover, a key Wikileaks volunteer, Daniel Schmidt, quit over clashes with Assange, though Assange maintains that Schmidt was merely suspended.  Suffice to say that disillusionment with Assange, particularly with his dictatorial control of the organization, plus his hypocritical evasion of any questioning of his personal life (secrets are a bitch, aren't they?), has caused massive defection from the organization.

The Pentagon doesn't need to destroy Wikileaks.  Julian Assange is doing that on his own.

Focus:  When all is said and done, is Gaius Baltar a super-empowered individual, or is the term better applied to Caprica Six?


Anonymous said...

Wow. Great closing argument. You guys rock.

laurenist said...

Wasn't the imaginary Six supposed to be an angel? Like the disappearing Starbuck? Or something. It's probably best to forget the last hour of the series.

Starbuck said...

I think the BSG Wiki claims that the imaginary Six was an angel.

But if Starbuck's also an angel, why can everyone see and interact with Starbuck, but only Baltar can see Six?

Lily said...

So now I've also gotta say something... don't really have the time... but what the heck... the blond babes and other other reasoning were just too convincing! LOL!
Anyways... thanks for proving to me that I have no culture whatsoever, since I totally missed out on that Battlestar-experience and those babe-fantasies (we actually go north for the wilderness experience... and no, they don't have blond bears up in the arctic - at least not before you cross the Barents Sea!). But the best part was all that psychological reasoning in terms of childhood and again: babes! Naturally. What else keeps you guys interested?!

So I obviously I'm completely uncivilized when simply seeing Julian for what he really is: a pathetic a-hole!
After all a traitor is a traitor, no matter how much some like to explain it away!

You and Shaun pointed out quite correctly how one-sided Julian's revelations usually are. It has nothing whatsoever to do with free speech or the truth! He's just a very noisy kid with a criminal record who likes to stir up unrest with manipulated information.

I saw your comment Courtney. You're right, not much of a secret what he's leaked so far, but that is not the problem with Julian.
It's not that he exposes the truth and that the truth is damaging. The problem is that he a)is promoting/encouraging illegal activities and b) that he's deliberately putting one side up against another.
- Pretty much actually like Axel Springer (since you've had that Spiegel-article the other day...).
That was really also his mission in life - not informing people, but in fact warmongering!

Anonymous said...

and so THIS is how you spend

your time?..... Dude, wake UP.

seph said...

But if Starbuck's also an angel, why can everyone see and interact with Starbuck, but only Baltar can see Six?

Because God did it.

(This can also be used to explain BSG's 19,000 other plot holes)

laurenist said...

But if Starbuck's also an angel, why can everyone see and interact with Starbuck, but only Baltar can see Six?

Because Starbuck is a resurrected Jesus-angel. Someone has to be Jesus, right?

Because God did it.

Caprica was canceled. There is no God. Your argument is invalid.

Starbuck said...

But there are gods in the BSG universe...right?

laurenist said...

Of course: Ronald D. Moore.

Weren't most of Baltar's schemes to influence Adama and Roslin ultimately foiled? I would say Six, then, was the super-empowered individual. This seems like a good topic for your next SWJ article with Elkus. [/on topic]

caidid said...

To your question, I don't think either is a Super Empowered Individual. If anything, I think Baltar and the Sixes (specifically Caprica Six to some degree and mainly Head Six) function together symbiotically as a Super Empowered Individual. Using the definition provided by you and Mr. Elkus, "an individual or small group possessing the knowledge and/or access to critical nodes in complex social systems, and the power and willingness to leverage such to either change the system’s rule set or at least a strong challenge to it," it seems neither is such alone. Caprica Six/Head Six have the knowledge and willingness, Baltar the access and power. He would never have had the intention or the wherewithal to do as much on his own, and they would never have had the ability to execute.

GrEaT sAtAn'S gIrLfRiEnD said...

whoa wait a sec - Gaius didnt willingly betray anything - he was used by Six to get into the Defense Mainframe.

Assange is a foreign enemy emboldening agent of malevolent influence.

Can't wait for his trial!

Anonymous said...

Doesn't matter. Assage is a hero in my book. EVERYONE should be accountable for their actions. If the military has nothing to hide, why should they worry?

Just like us getting full body scans.. and we have nothing to hide why do we complain?

Double edged sword you bastards! Now let the banking and governmental leaks begin!!

Anonymous said...

Baltar did knowlingly give information to a contractor. He even indicated to Caprica that he could have his head cut off for this offense. She then explained that would not matter because his civilization (and nice lake house) was about to be destroyed...

Who watches the watchers?

Who watches the tall blonds?

Kristi said...

I am not reading that first comment like you are. I don't see himself calling himself a god there- I think he's referring to "GOD" (Big G) as being unworthy, it seems like a bit of gnostic or atheistic thought creeping in there.

Read it again and see. I don't see him referring to HIMSELF at all there.

V Cassen said...

Julian Assange may or may not be an a--h---, I don't know. But I don't really care, either. You've spent an entire blog post attacking his character without saying one word about why he's gained all this attention, ie, the leak itself. Presumably you think he was wrong for leaking all those documents, but if that's so why don't you just say so instead of hiding behind character assassination, which is bullshit no matter who is doing it, the right or the left.

As to the leak itself, if, as one of your commenters and many tv talking heads have pointed out, if none of this is secret than why get upset about it? Strike a nerve? I'm glad Wikileaks leaked those documents; I think American should be reminded of innocent people who were killed, of those who were tortured in our name, and of the general folly of the entire invasion of Iraq. I think, too, that the deaths of our American/Allied troops should be remembered and respected, and at the same time we should think about what they died for. And I for one think what they died for wasn't worth it.

Starbuck said...

V Cassen: I explore Wikileaks' three major coups this year--the Apache Gun Camera video, the Afghan War Diary, and the Iraq War Logs--in great detail over a dozen times in this blog. Do a search.

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