Julian Assange Emailed Benedict Cumberbatch about 'The Fifth Estate,' and It Was Intense
Julian Assange is, quite unsurprisingly, very upset about this whole The Fifth Estate movie thing. It's a very singularly focused film about all the things and stories and documents he's unleashed onto the world. And — shock of all shocks — this stylized, Hollywood take on his tale may not show our lil 'ssangie in the best of lights (and that's not even because of his terrifyingly blonde locks). So, natch: he's not happy! Weirdly enough, considering the film is based on one person's biased look at the inner workings of the WikiLeaks organization. So, in an attempt to clear the air or whatever-it-is they're calling opportune publicity-mongering these days, Assange wrote a couple emails to Benedict Cumberbatch, his on-screen double.
And while we were just as shocked as you that there was nary a mention of Assange's creepy and unruly tresses, there was plenty to be astounded by in Assange's totally and hilariously hypocritical letters.
We can go back and forth all day about the merits and demerits of what WikiLeaks has done (and yes, there are valid pros and cons on both sides), but Assange's unable to see that, essentially, how he feels about The Fifth Estate's slights and "potentially harmful" character assassinations is prooooobably similar to how the United States government felt after his actions (whether warranted or otherwise). Awkward!
So he's decided — oh so valiantly! — to release the emails he sent to the Sherlock star, and even included a press release about it. And only two days before the film gets its release in the United Kingdom? Well golly gee willikers, isn't that a coinkydink?
The first letter (yes, groan, apparently this is going to be a series) unleashed upon the world — complete with release date information in the paragraph preceding it — Wednesday morning ranges from tone-deaf to total megalomania ("The bond that develops between an actor and a living subject is significant." O rly?), and, well, you should just read it for yourself if you have the time.
For those with a smaller attention span (or desire to read one egomaniac's diatribe), Assange's hilarious complaints are many, and, wow — can anyone else see the hilariously ironic similarities to some of the arguments his dissenters have made?
- I know the film intends to depict me and my work in a negative light.
- I believe it will distort events and subtract from public understanding.
- It does not seek to simplify, clarify or distil [sic] the truth, but rather it seeks to bury it.
- It will resurrect and amplify defamatory stories which were long ago shown to be false.
- I do not believe it is going to be positive for me or the people I care about. I believe that it is going to be overwhelmingly negative for me and the people I care about.
- It seeks to cut our strength with weakness. To cut affection with exploitation. To cut diligence with paranoia. To cut loyalty with naivety. To cut principle with hypocrisy. And above all, to cut the truth with lies.
- To present me as someone morally compromised and to place me in a falsified history. To create a work, not of fiction, but of debased truth.
- Consider the consequences to people who may fall into harm because of this film.
- I cannot permit this film any claim to authenticity or truthfulness. In its current form it has neither, and doing so would only further aid the campaign against me.
- It is contrary to my interests, and to those of my organisation ...
I mean, I know you're just one guy up against an entire country (and one that, sorry guys, isn't always doing its best), but don't you see how the very argument you're presenting about this film is very, very similar to the arguments people have made about your own work, and the lives of other people you've put in harm's way all for this so-called greater good that reads more and more like trumped up and delusional egomania with every single word that comes out of your mouth?
Listen, Julian, honey boo boo baby bear, allow me to let you in on a little secret: I'm not saying you're right, the US is right, or the movie studio is right. In this instance, I hardly think anyone is definitively "right" or "wrong." But when you become a public figure, a worldwide vigilante for people's rights to hear all the facts and make up their mind on their own, you're also allowing them to do the same when it comes to you. And DreamWorks is a movie studio. They make entertainment. For profit! And, yes, of course they're always going to go with the down-and-dirtiest narrative out there. Why? Because The Fifth Estate a story. It's entertainment. Just because it's "based on true events" doesn't mean its filmmakers are obligated to (or should, because we need to be entertained) tell the whole truth — or at least the truth as YOU see it.
Or maybe the filmmakers were encouraged by the US government to do something scathing and inflammatory about you to puff up their own case against WikiLeaks, but, hey! That's the hard part about doing a hard thing you think is worth doing, like being a whistleblower or making a movie about a whistleblower. So buckle up, buttercup. If you really want someone to hear the truth, have them make a documentary about WikiLeaks — you seem to like to do and control things on your own, anyway.