Julian Assange is the gift that keeps giving. Aside from providing an endless source of material for the front pages of the nation's newspapers, he is morphing before our eyes from real-life international renegade to surreal movie villain.
It's like there's a cinematic villain check-list that he's working through.
Strangelove-ian doomsday plan? Check. A giant encrypted file was posted to WikiLeaks over the summer which, depending upon which speculative report you read, has either as yet unreleased, super-scandalous documents, or the nonredacted versions of documents that have already been released. The file has reportedly been downloaded by tens of thousands of Assange's supporters, so if anything happens to the WikiLeaks guru, he has warned, the document's 256-digit encryption key will be released, making all of these secret documents public. Unlike the Soviets in Dr. Strangelove, he told the world of his plan as the whole point of a doomsday machine is lost if you keep it a secret. [See a slide show of 5 things we didn't learn from WikiLeaks.]
(As a quick aside: Seriously? In this age of identity theft of phishing tends of thousands of people have downloaded a gigabyte-sized file onto their computer and are patiently waiting to activate it without knowing exactly what it does? Who's to say that Assange wouldn't want to expose the corruption inherent in the capitalist system--or take WikiLeaks to the next level by distributing individuals' E-mails, bank records, chat transcripts, and photographs?)
Of course Assange's secret, undreground lair--carved into the side of a mountain in Switzerland--has already been well documented (and for the purposes of pushing along a pop culture-international-political meme, we'll ignore the fact that while Bahnof AB, which houses the servers upon which the WikiLeaks information is stored is indeed underground, it is neither secret nor Assange's lair).
Assange even looks the part of Bond-villain, as Meghan McCain has so keenly observed. The name fits too. It sounds French, but he's actually Australian and Ms. McCain thinks he's Swedish--he's a veritable everyman of Bond-ian global villainy. (Matt Zoller Seitz has an interesting and rather more serious take on the Bond-ssange phenomenon here.)
So what's next for Assange? Sharks with laser beams on their heads? Perhaps a reality TV show with fellow James Bond villain come to life Dick Cheney? It could be bigger than Parker Spitzer.
Over the weekend, Assange even got the SNL treatment, which you can enjoy below, after the "read more" links.