Dec 4, 2010

The Assange Army? Fangirling of a Different Kind


So much for taking a break from expositions of fan fervor, this one I could not resist taking a tilt at, having succumb to a mild dose of it myself (although it has now passed). Given the history of discussions on this blog concerning the fan fervor surrounding Richard Armitage who plays Lucas North in Spooks, I thought you guys might be interested in a new example of fangirling to have emerged in recent times. Julian Assange, the founder and face of the whistle blower website Wikileaks, is beginning to develop a keen following amongst what I assume to be left leaning women. For those who support the philosophy and actions of Wikileaks, Julian Assange is admired, not only for his intelligence, deep convictions and dedication to human rights and social justice, but also for, how shall I say, his aesthetic qualities….

Whenever I look at his ears in these close up pictures, I start to think how I would love to kiss and tongue them for hours… [source]

I was wondering if anyone else out there sins when they look at Julian’s lips?
The man has a sexy mouth. Oh no. I am sinning again.
[source]

He makes me blush like a schoolgirl. I think I have a crush on this guy. [source]

(I can see a new website being launched in the not too distant future.. WikiCrush.org). If you are not convinced that ‘fangirling’ of this international man of mystery could in any way resemble the perplexing feelings of fan fervor often expressed by admirers of Richard Armitage, check out this comment below:

“What is it about this man? He seems to have something quite special that just draws you in…It’s fascinating and sort of unsettling too, this thing, this odd magnetism, whatever it is. It’s more than simple good looks, sexiness, intelligence, integrity, anything…it’s something else, something better, something different, something new…or is it just me being weird? Any thoughts at all?” [source]

Sound familiar? While I appreciate that opinion of Assange and Wikileaks among readers of this blog is probably quite divided, it is not my intention here to instigate a debate on this issue here, but rather to cast a prying eye into fangirling of a different kind. As you have just read, it is remarkably similar to what one finds expressed about Richard Armitage in the RA blogosphere… which begs the question, is an Assange Army set to surface soon?

The appeal of Assange is considerably different to that of Richard Armitage’s cohort of enthusiastic fans, the Armitage Army (for whom I’ve posited that the character of desire may well be significant), but the fangirling activities are quite similar. On this highly entertaining Tumblr blog, one can find Julian Assange fan art, dream date fantasies, calls for fan fic, interview screencaps, and ponderings about personal inanities such as whether Assange is a cat person or dog person, what is hand writing is like, or if he can sing. “Entry points” to Richard Armitage fandom is a common discussion topic among fans (North and South, Robin Hood, Spooks), this topic, too, gets an airing on the blog (Dateline, Lateline, news reports?).

Would UK citizenship help? I’d marry you tomorrow. [source]

So what is it about Assange that fosters Armitage like fervor? I’ve no idea! But lets give it a shot. As you’re probably already aware my politics swings heavily to the left so I am inclined to be sympathetic and supportive of what Wikileaks aims to achieve, particularly because they seem to be going about the business of what they’re doing in a highly conscientious fashion. So from that point of view, I can appreciate that an empathetic political perspective would be strong grounds for an affection for Assange.

He is certainly passionate, and much admired by the female students in attendance. [source]

Having been involved in successful union campaigns myself that relied on the unearthing of information that those who opposed our cause wished to keep secret for their own purposes, the constructive potential of Wikileaks effecting political change in a positive direction is quite tangible to me. The scale of Wikileaks, of course, dwarfs the puny actions I’ve been involved in, and here in lies part of Assange’s appeal. It’s terribly geeky to say so, but it’s true, effecting political change in a significant and positive way is pretty darn sexy. I often noted that good male leaders in the left circles in which I was associated were not bereft of female attention, and let me tell you, it had very little to do with looks! The ability to articulate a clear, well reasoned and convincing defense of the cause one stands for is a pretty impressive skill. I’ve watched dozens of interviews with Julian Assange in the past week or so and he impresses me greatly on this front. That’s where my appreciation has laid, others, on the other hand..

Aww, Julian Assange, the centre of my world, the sweetheart of my dreams! My one and only celebrity crush! [source]

He’s a celebrity now… now that is dangerous! Just like many of you Richard Armitage enthusiasts, Julian Assange is also the single object of celebrity affection.

For Australian fangirlers I imagine there is probably a slither of tribalism influencing their admiration for Assange as well. One can’t help but feel a little pride in seeing a fella from their own neck of the woods do good. (Sidenote: the notion of ‘good’ being associated with Wikileaks may be a difficult concept for some to accept, particularly in the States. I’m not attempting to convince anyone of the merits of Wikileaks here, but I do find it interesting that for a population of people that is notoriously distrustful of government, the very thing that is exposing a valid basis for that distrust is not welcomed. It seems that this distrust does not extend so much to foreign policy). I’ve heard a number of people say in reference to Assange and seen in commentary on various news forums “finally I feel proud to be Australian”. I think are plenty of other reasons to be proud to be Australian but that gives you a sense of how some people feel about “one of their own” doing something that they strongly believe in. He has even been nominated for Australian of the Year.

How I envy those who can say “Julian?” and have THE Julian turn around, look their way, smile and reply “yes?”! That little scene, with me doing the asking, plays over and over in my mind whenever I have the chance to daydream. Those amazing eyes, that smile, that voice! I’m so in love. I’m hopping mad. [source]

So, that’s my hasty rundown and half-baked explanation for Assange fan fervor. The next time you see Julian Assange on the news, think of your affection for Richard Armitage and all those Assange fan girls having a similar experience to you. Incidentally, if you’re wondering how it is possible anyone could share in some of that enthusiasm when he is (supposedly) facing rape allegations, read on.

[ WARNING, RANT THAT DEVIATES FROM THE SUBJECT BEGINS HERE ]

Despite being wanted for questioning over sexual assault allegations in Sweden, the 39 year old Australian is capturing the attention of left leaning ladies around the world. What is interesting to me about this instance of fangirling is its continuation amidst these allegations. Although I would not place myself in the fangirl category, the strong feminist and anti-violence campaigner in me feels conflicted. I imagine that the fangirl is already predisposed to dismiss these allegations as the result of faceless powers that seek to discredit Assange and who are manipulating events behind the scenes. While I also believe it is plausible that this could be the case, that does not explain the reporting of the allegations in the first instance, which I understand to have been reported by women who are sympathetic to the Wikileaks cause, having invited Assange to speak at a conference that one of them was organising.

As is often the case with “anonymous” interference in proceedings of this kind, a thread of truth is what makes the business of discrediting an individual plausible to the public. So if these women did indeed come forward with a complaint on their own accord, it weakens the conspiratorial theories on this matter. Based on my on experience in left politics, I don’t presume that left leaning guys who talk the talk about human rights and protecting victims are immune from sexist attitudes or committing crimes against women. Just because there probably are forces out there who are seeking to discredit Assange and make his life difficult, this does not mean that Assange did not commit sexual assault. An article by Assange’s lawyer recently published at Crikey, however, makes a strong case that no crime has been committed. The substance of the allegation, according to the lawyer, is that Assange had consensual, unprotected sex, which under Swedish law could be construed as criminal in certain circumstances.

What does concern me is that, if there are more substantial allegations than the failure to use a condom (the lazy media reporting makes it difficult to discern fact from fiction on this issue), the unprecedented manner in which the authorities are going about pursuing this case will weaken the public perception that Assange might have a case to answer to. I’m reminded of OJ Simpson, who probably did kill his wife, but the misconduct by the cops who investigated him made it impossible to convict him. Given the circus that surrounds Wikileaks and Assange, it’s probable that whatever the outcome, either the pro or anti Assange camps will not find the outcome to be credible. All I want is a just outcome, a conviction if the allegations are true, a clearing of Assange’s name if they are false.

I resent the very real possibility that what has been (apparently) inaccurately lauded as a rape case is the arena in which authorities are attempting to “get” Assange for Wikileaks. In my home state, less than 5% of rapes result in a criminal conviction. Most are not reported, in those that are reported perpetrators are frequently not charged, those that go to trial and achieve a conviction are few. If Assange is shown to be innocent, this case will feed into the notion that allegations of rape and sexual assault are to be treated with skepticism instead of being taking seriously, and the status quo of less than 5% may be destined to continue. Consequently, this case fuels a sense of “damned if he’s innocent and damned if he’s guilty”. I support Wikileaks, so although a rape conviction would not dissuade me from that, it would seriously impact my support for Assange on a personal level. If he is innocent, and the allegations are bogus, the laws which are designed to persecute perpetrators of sexual assault lose some integrity and credibility, and this is bad for victims. How is the public supposed to take allegations of rape seriously if the authorities are shown to have abused legal proceedings in the Assange case?

[ END RANT ]

Spooky after thought: Would Harry Pearce support WikiLeaks? Probably not… but would he leak to them if it meant subverting superiors with whom he did not agree, YOU BETCHA!

23 Comments

  • I’m most definitely NOT a fan of this man nor do I find him to be attractive, as far as I’m concerned, he is an egomaniac who got a taste of being famous and telling secrets so now he thinks he can play God.

    He’ll get what’s coming to him one day.

  • I don’t find him physically attractive. The charges seem – fortuitously timed. But don’t listen to me: still trying to prove the Grassy Knoll theory, and I’m not even American. :)

    So far, the WikiDrips don’t seem quite in the league of The Pentagon Papers….

    • Which Grassy Knoll theory? ;)

      I think one of the downsides of dumping so many documents at the one time, including many that seem inconsequential, is that the important stories and revelations that are revealed in some of the leaked documents are not receiving the limelight they deserve, particularly those in relation to some middle east countries that raise questions over the true intentions of America’s actions in the region. It’s probably unlikely that we’ll see something akin to the hidden agendas revealed in the Pentagon Papers in today’s paper trails… they learnt their lesson back then! Rather, the documents raise big questions concerning true intentions, rather than expose what the true intentions are.

  • You quoted this commenter as representative of Armitage admirers:
    Whenever I look at his ears in these close up pictures, I start to think how I would love to kiss and tongue them for hours…

    Do you really think this is so? Do you really think that that comment and the ones that followed duly represent most Armitage fans?

    Nor am I sure about what “fangirling” entails. Perhaps that would help to understand whether you are tarring everyone with the same brush. Because, honestly, in my opinion, you are tarring. Big time. I will also qualify that by saying that fan communities offer a spectrum of positions and thoughts. Every. Single. One. I am not sure that the common denominator which you lead with is particularly valid.

    Unless you provide context, the commonalities look superficial. As for this Assange creature- meh. I have learned not to fall for the image, no matter how enticing the surface seems. I know him about as well as I know the Armitage. I prefer the Armitage because his talent does not lie. I agree about Assange’s personal life- if he is a rapist, it doesn’t matter what else he has accomplished. It just doesn’t. Same for the Armitage.

    I’m not much of a political person anyway (a Canadian socialist by inclination). :) Plus ca change…..

    Btw, this Wiki leaking thing? I imagine it is the flavour of the day. Tempest in a teapot, IMO.

    • Come on, Pi, this is not a serious academic exercise. I’m not saying Assange and Armitage appreciation is exactly the same. Lighten up!

  • Ooooh, okay, I missed the lighthearted tag. Colour me confused. Lesson learned.

  • Oh, as for the “academic exercise” thingy, that’s just a cheap shot. If you do not say what you mean, then why are you saying it?

    • What I mean by that is that I’ve not written about this in a rigourous academic sense, as I’ve not thought about it in that way, so it’s fair to say that its not an academic exercise. This is shooting from the hip, holes n all, in a lighthearted way. Apparently you missed the bit where I said this was hasty and half baked! As such, I have no interest in defending what I’ve written as if that were possible.

      For a bit of fun, in a way that has some relevance to the readers of this blog, I’ve simply pointed out some fan affections for Assange that echo the fan fervor of RA (as examples, not as representative, btw) and wondered about the affection for Assange. I’m not saying there’s a deep seeded linkage between Assange fans and Armitage fans that requires serious analysis. If that was my proposition, defending it would be fair enough. But it’s not…. so, ya know, what’s the big deal. Can’t a kick girl it free style form time to time? Geez! ;)

  • Loved your article. I have to say I am part of the Assange fangirling army. :D
    But what can I say? He is cute and smart, which seems nowadays to be the ultimate combination for us women.
    Anyways, I’m a fan of his activities too and I support wikileaks in a cautious way. What wikileaks does is important, but I still think it can be dangerous all the same. It is very easy to go from the “hero” path to the “stupid” path.
    For example, many of the cablegate files were just useless and they only managed to confuse people who are clueless about how diplomatic relations work.

    About the alleged rape: in my opinion it is false. Considering the “perfect” timing and the actual accuse he’s received I’m almost convinced this is not true. If everyone should have the same treatmen Assange is having, half of the college boys around the world who are to cool to have anything to do with a condom should be wanted by Interpol.

    But still, it could be true. In that case, just like you said, it would have an impact on my support for him on a personal level.
    Until that day however, I shall continue fangirling happily. :D

    • Hi Francesca, I agree, about cautiously supporting Wikileaks. Blind support for anything is unwise. I think the war documents/material was much more valuable than the cable leaks have proven to be so far. We all knew that Putin was an “alpha dog” already! Amongst all the headline grabbing gossipy stuff, though, there are a few gems. Such as questions over some of Putin’s dealings and the UN spy orders. Time and some quality investigative reporting will ultimately show whether it was a worthwhile leak in the end.

    • I agree, and am also a cautious supporter. As for the rape, from what I understand, it’s because in Sweden, if you have consensual sex without a condom, that is rape. If it ended up that he truly was some real rapist, then yuck, no more fangirling from me either :)

      • I’m not certain about how it works it Sweden but I think there needs to be an element of coercion and power dynamics involved as well for sex without a condom to be considered rape?

  • Well, he does look rather un-ugly on the middle photo … just sayin’ … ;)

    Anyway. If it’s just about a rape charge … it seems a bit odd how much they’re going after him. I mean, Interpol? Most people who are accused of rape either go free or … well, they’re not chased across country borders. Something’s fishy there, IMHO. Especially if the rape charges are more along the lines of “sexual misconduct” rather than actual rape. Wouldn’t it be great if they gave this much time and effort into catching ALL rape suspects? And not just the ones that also happen to leak state secrets …

    • “Wouldn’t it be great if they gave this much time and effort into catching ALL rape suspects?”

      Excellent point Traxy! I couldn’t agree more.

  • I think he is dead sexy, but guys like that are my type. Foreign, rebellious, smart, geeky, rough around the edges with huge egos. Am I left-leaning? nope, I’m a libertarian.

    • Some libs are left leaning, so I take it you’re right leaning, then? So Assange’s appeal stretches across the hypothetical political divide? Interesting! :)

  • Strange to see him here–in the back of my mind whenever I see Assange I think of that series 8 episode where those “idealists” put the Bendorf Group on internet trial. And now he’s on the fan blog–yikes!

    • Haha! Well WL and Assange aren’t militants in the literal sense so I doubt we’ll seem them hijacking anyone anytime soon :)

  • He reminds me of that banker guy Ross went after, with Lucas posing as her fiance. (in series 8;)
    I can’t imagine him on the grid in series 10 but i can imagine an episode where they have to stop a similar situation.

    • Ohhh that guy was creepy! I think it was series 7?

  • Yes, it was Alexis Maynell in series 7, episode 5. I looked it up. (Any excuse to rewatch is a good excuse lol).

  • Love the debates here! pi, left-leaning Canadian here too. Not as much socialist (for whom Tommy Douglas is still a hero)as in the past.(Well, I’m an old trout now, so have to rely more on son and his gen. to express where they find their political or non-political beliefs) Family have been left-leaning for four generations now.

    I think we simply have no idea what the motivations of Assange are, but I do rather support shaking up the systems. Not certain that his motivation is idealistic or anarchic. The sexual charges are almost reminiscent of the charges against the templars, or similar charges throughout history, in the timing…

  • Julian Assange – Wikileaks general. The prophecy has spoken. He bringth turth & transparency into this world which is full of exploitation, war, and corruption. Prophet of the people is he. …He will expose the evils of the corrupt powers that be in todays orwellian new world order.. Martyr he will be if the imperialist (USA) and their cronies (Gillard AUS. Gov) burn him at the stake. All salute our general in arms “Assange”. Brother and sisters join the revolution!
    IT nerds of the world, facebook socialites, bloggers, spammers, internet chatters, gamers, hackers, downloaders,….the time is here ! sieze the moment! Empower yourself, take your first breath of being a true revolutionary, embrace the power that is in your hand, your mouse!
    Clickin, log in, update, download, rip, post, blog, burn, facebook update, photo tag, seed, zip, compress, java it, HTML it! what ever your IT fetish!
    Join the wiki revolution.
    Its the begining of the end of the corrupt leaders of the world.
    TRUTH wil prevail!
    Julian Assange – Hasta Victoria siemore!
    viva the wiki revolution!

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