Being under house arrest can’t keep WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange out of the public eye — he made his debut as a TV host yesterday with the first installment of “The World Tomorrow.” Broadcast by Russia’s government-funded RT network as well as being available online, “The World Tomorrow” finds Assange, currently residing in an undisclosed location somewhere in England, engaging in half-hour political interviews. Of note: the series’ music was composed by M.I.A.
“We’ve exposed the world’s secrets, been attacked by the powerful,” Assange intones over the introductory graphics. “For 500 days now, I’ve been detained without charge, but that hasn’t stopped us,” he continues, sidestepping certain extradition battles and allegations of sexual misconduct. “Today, we’re on a quest for revolutionary ideas that can change the world tomorrow.”
Twelve episodes have reportedly already been shot for the series, the first up featuring Hassan Nasrallah, Secretary General of Hezbollah in Lebanon, giving what Assange explains is his “first interview in the west since the 2006 Israel-Lebanon War.” Nasrallah speaks to Assange via video feed on a laptop, with a live translator offering up his words in English. The result is a dense, deeply serious conversation in which Assange occasionally confronts his subject about issues like Syria and civilian deaths in bombings, but is in general a restrained and subdued presence.
There’s something charming about how antithetical “The World Tomorrow” is to any standard notion of compelling television. It’s two people separated by continents, technology and a language, attempting to have a conversation that the world would want to consume as a visual project. With the cameras and domestic setting all evident — Assange, his translator and another crew member appear to be clustered around a living room table — “The World Tomorrow” is both retrograde and futuristic, its “Wayne’s World” air of being shot in someone’s house contrasting with its dystopic underground broadcast tone. A high-profile activist out on bail, interviewing a resistance fighter/terrorist who’s speaking from a secret location — and the whole thing is aired on a channel controlled by the Kremlin. Watch it below: