WikiLeaks at the Movies

WikiLeaks was popularized and promoted on Twitter; supporters of WikiLeaks were and are able to stay connected through the use of the #WikiLeaks hashtag on the popular micro blogging site. WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange, became household names through the spreading of WikiLeaks news primarily through the use of Twitter, which then led the major news networks to follow WikiLeaks stories. Twitter allows users to mobilize and participate in social movements, such as Wikileaks. Twitter serves as a networked public where users collaborate and participate in creating something together (Lindgren and Lundstrom 1000).

The WikiLeaks controversies have become so well-known that a film has been made about Julian Assange and WikiLeaks. It is called The Fifth Estate and stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Assange. The film is currently showing in theaters worldwide. WikiLeaks tweeted and said that they were not consulted during the creation of the film and therefore, they think it is a bad film. Julian Assange himself has even seen it and has written a letter to Cumberbatch saying that he doesn’t like the film and that the film does not portray him or the subject of WikiLeaks accurately. Assange wrote that Cumberbatch was being used as a “hired gun” for the “debauched” script of The Fifth Estate.

Cumberbatch wrote back to Assange saying that he was not a “hired gun” in his performance in the film, nor does he operate in a “moral vacuum” taking any film role he can just for a paycheck. Cumberbatch said that he thought the film would inspire more conversation about WikiLeaks and bring more attention to it. He sees the film as effective in promoting even more debate and awareness about WikiLeaks. Clearly, the attention that Assange and WikiLeaks are paying to the film, is creating even more buzz surrounding the film. I think the more people who hear about the film and go see it, the more they will talk and debate about WikiLeaks, and I agree with Cumberbatch and think that this is a positive thing for WikiLeaks.

Lindgren, Simon, and Ragnar Lundstrom. “Pirate culture and hacktivist mobilization: The cultural and social protocols of #WikiLeaks on Twitter.” New Media and Society 27 June 2011: 999-1016.

Busis, Hillary. “Julian Assange writes an open letter to Benedict Cumberbatch; Cumberbatch responds.”

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