Our final keynote abstract for the conference. This time from Mandy Merck who connects celebrity studies to Hactivism and Julian Assange through melodrama.
MASKED MEN: Hacktivism and Celebrity from Anonymous to Assange
Professor Mandy Merck, Royal Holloway, University of London
In her 1991 article ‘Signs of Melodrama’ Christine Gledhill provocatively claimed that the Hollywood star system descended from the stage melodrama’s ‘drive to realize in personal terms social and ethical forces’. In an approach to contemporary celebrity through this dramatic mode, this presentation considers the unmasking of Julian Assange in two recent films. The disguise is a melodramatic topos, concealing the true personality revealed in the narrative, as the genre reveals hidden moral truths. Going back to Alan Moore’s masked comic hero ‘V’, I will examine the melodramatic characterization of Assange in We Steal Secrets (Alex Gibney, 2013) and The Fifth Estate (Bill Condon, 2013), films which unsettle our assumptions about the relative power of anonymity and celebrity in contemporary politics.