Mark W. Davis contributed an interesting commentary to the U.S News website on a theme touched on by The Tattooed Girl: the similarities between aspects of the WikiLeaks phenomenon and the events described in Stieg Larsson’s trilogy. Larsson, of course, had already died before WikiLeaks was launched, and the fictional Lisbeth was busy hacking into everyone’s email six years before the world heard of the real life Julian Assange. Nevertheless, the instances of life imitating art are pronounced in this case. Moreover, Davis also raises a number of provocative questions about the hacker’s world. Davis is co-author of a book called Digital Assassination. An excerpt from his article follows:
The Assange saga—convoluted sex charges, digital exposure of the world’s most powerful government, and an assured melodrama in an overheated wood-paneled courtroom in Stockholm—is almost an act of plagiarism of the late Swedish author Stieg Larsson by reality.
It is certainly hard not to see in his unfolding real-world story about sex and digital skullduggery echoes of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
Larsson grabbed our imaginations by exposing marginal hackers and digital practices then at the edge of our awareness. Seven years later, it can seem as if Larsson’s menagerie of flawed protagonists and appealing villains has actually sprung to life, as if cut from the molten plastic of his imagination by a 3D printer. One can’t help but wonder, then, what Larsson, felled by a heart attack at 50 in 2004, would have made of Assange and WikiLeaks.
Would Larsson have seen Assange as a digital version of his Mikael Blomkvist, a flawed but heroic journalist tormented by a legal system manipulated by powerful, unseen forces? Or would he have recognized in Assange’s autocratic management of WikiLeaks the fatal tendency of anarchy to gravitate toward despotism, and wiki movements to fall prey to personality cults?
Had he lived, Larsson, shy though he was, likely would have been coaxed into the digital limelight to chronicle not just WikiLeaks, but also the flash mobs in London, the Arab Spring, and the Occupy movements. They would have stirred his socialist sympathies, which would have been conflicted by his realist commitment to outcomes.
Though Larsson died without completing his planned 10-book series centered on Salander, his trilogy and the Swedish and American movies they inspired are already such an indelible part of world culture that it is likely that Salander will live forever, much like Sherlock Holmes and James Bond…